Monday, September 26, 2011

Wait? How can "Regretsy" be a warm fuzzy?

In the crafting community, if you're moderately computer savvy, and want to try and make a go of attempting to fund your chosen addiction by trying to sell the finished product, you've probably got an Etsy store.  That way, people who appreciate handcrafted goodies, can put their money where their mouth is.  Of course, Etsy makes my idea of what is a warm fuzzy feeling look like a Brillo pad.  They're so concerned with hurting the feelings of sellers (or perhaps their profits), they are willing to overlook their founding principle, namely to have a place where people can sell handcrafted or vintage items.

So, do mass produced non-vintage items make it onto the site?  Oh, like you wouldn't believe.  While you can voice your opinions about re-sellers on the Etsy forums, it's lacking something.  I don't know about you, but there's something that makes my heart pitter-patter at the thought of a person hand crafting something and sending it to someone who genuinely appreciates the fact that it is unique and not made in a sweat shop.  It's like the re-sellers have taken my warm fuzzy feeling and used it like a dog would use a fire hydrant.  I want vindication.

For this and so many other reasons, I have a special spot in my heart for Regretsy.  I love how they call out re-sellers, you can check those out under the banner 'Not Remotely Handmade'.  Side by side comparisons with the original product, nearly always using the same picture, it lets you see how much you would have saved.  Also this site does a great job of pointing out some items which are answers to questions that no one asked.  Aside from holding up a mirror for Etsy to see what it is advertising, Regretsy and the followers (April's Army) passionately support at least one charitable purpose each month (click here for examples).  Oh, I also forgot to mention how much unholy glee I feel reading the hilarious posts.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A girl and her knits... I mean fed


Lexi recipient of most of the things I knit, and constant giver of warm fuzzies, has done it yet again.  One of her constant haunts of the internet is "A girl and her Fed" webcomic.  Personally, I imagines she wants a burly man’s man (who could sell Old Spice without trying), to be a Fed of her very own.  And honestly, who wouldn’t love a gun totin’ marsupial ironically named Speedy?  

A girl and her fed is a comic all about your civil rights. And, you know, an undead pixie army. But mostly civil rights. No really! I couldn't possibly sum up the entire plot of this comic, it's that awesomely complicated. But what I can tell you is that it's well written, well drawn, and funny enough that I often find myself with various liquids coming out of my nose because I'm laughing so hard.

Oh, right.  I suppose you’re asking yourself why there should be a post about a webcomic in a blog largely based around knitting?  This is where Lexi comes in.  She’s the head cheerleader when it comes to my knitting, and decided to write to the author of AGAHF, in an effort to bring together two of her favorite things (whether this is like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate or chainsaws and personal grooming has yet to be seen).

Yesterday morning I noticed the traffic to the blog trended away from those in search of free knitting patterns.  Instead leaning to those who would understand the other side of my personality!  Those who would look at and appreciate a Valkyrie or Viking hat, a tissuebox cover that looks like a NES controller, maybe even the R2D2 beanie, or perhaps even the Horde hat.  Anyway, to those of you visiting from AGAHF, thank you, you rule, may the ghosts of historical figures keep you company!  And dear author/Otter, you madame, rule.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vintage and Valkyries

I'd pillage for these!
This past weekend has been a little hectic.  I've been spending most of my time buried in skeins and skeins of yarn.  I finished off another of the Secretive Storms berets, and began to knit up a Valkyrie hat (thank you again, Chile Con Yarne for this awesome pattern) for Lacey, my brother's girlfriend.  I'm hoping to eventually get a picture of them together, him while wearing his balaclava and her wearing this little number I finished late last night.  Her birthday is today, and I should really hustle over and mail this baby.  

Two horns and one Thumbs up!
If you're wondering what I've got in the picture, it's some amazing mini-magazines called "The Workbasket".  Totally unexpected, my mother's childhood friend, Debbie sent these to me.  Ranging in dates from September 1962, up to March of 1989, these are gems.  Not only do they have vintage sewing, knitting and crochet patterns; they also have the most enticing ads in them! First off, the Sept. '62 edition?  It cost 15 cents.  On page 62 there's an ad from "Speedwriting" that promises to teach you shorthand in 6 weeks with "no strange symbols; no machines; uses ABC's".  Also there's an ad for an "Electric Bug Killer for $2.95".  And can I still get the "Compresso Belt"?  The "amazing invention flattens abdomen up to 4 inches"... it's only $3.98 for the regular or $4.98 for the panty... AND ONLY 50 CENTS FOR EACH EXTRA CROTCH!  I cannot tell you how sorry I am that I don't have a scanner so you guys can see these amazing drawings!  Seriously, it looks like some brutally militant undies from a 1950's space alien flick.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Secretive Storms

YAY!  The final draft!
I can't tell you how relieved I am to finally get this secret out.  Literally.  After seeing the number of views to my blog skyrocket from posting Stalwart Staghorn, I've been stitching my little heart out at a fevered pitch just trying to finish up this pattern in time for Friday's post.

Kelli, Kevin's sister (yes, it's the same Kevin from this post), celebrated her annual 29th birthday this week.  Now, I had wanted to send her one of these hats, but (selfishly) I've been too busy trying to hammer out this pattern.  I'm hoping to make it up to her by sending her the prototypes that I came up with, and naming the hat pattern after the Storms family.

Ok, so I know it's free, and I'd probably make more money posting it for sale and selling three copies, but I can't tell you how much I've appreciated having free patterns available to me.  While I'm in no position to donate to those designers, I'm hoping to pay it forward a bit by contributing a few of my own.  That being said, I'm delighted that due to ad clicks from people visiting, my blog has earned 75 cents in the past week.  No, I'm not being sarcastic when I say delighted; seriously, anything helps when you're unemployed and have been for as long as I have been.  Blah!  Enough of pesky reality which is certainly NOT warm and fuzzy.  Anyway, thank you folks for visiting, and here's my second pattern "Secretive Storms"*.  Oh!  Again, if you notice any issues, or mistakes (such as the one Ms. Morris let me know about in my other pattern), please email me at daniaerickson@gmail.com.

Oh!  And about the pattern... don't be intimidated (easier said than done in my case, as evidenced by this post).  I swear, if it's your first time with some of the techniques... I'll be gentle darling.  And you know what?  You will walk away with some good experience and a lovely showing of your talent and dedication.

Attempt #1
Attempt #2
*All rights to the design and pattern "Secretive Storms" are protected by copyright.  Dania Erickson 2011.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pan Handling

Kevin and his bro at Knott's
Oh such an appropriate title for the post considering my wanton advertisement at the top of this blog.  Yes, that's right, I am offering up my services (well, where knitting and crocheting is concerned).  Thus far, dear Kevin (if you want to see him modeling butterball's fugly hat, click here), has been the biggest supporter (enabler) of my efforts to do commission projects.  He hired my needles for three sets of fingerless gloves.  Three cheers for this good man!

Wait, where was I?  Oh yes!  Pan-handling.   Well, speaking of begging, my boyfriend was practically on his knees entreating me to make something that would keep his delicate fingers safe while he was slaving away in the kitchen.  Yes, I like that version far better than the boring truth:  namely, that he casually mentioned that it might be nice to have something that would go around the handle of the skillet, and I immediately became a blur as I rushed for my cotton yarn and crochet hooks.

might fit more than just the boyfriend's skillet handle...
Though I made this months ago, the reason it came up this evening was because it was taco night.  As I stitched away (I'm working on a new hat pattern), Daniel was in the kitchen making us dinner (he does it right too... tortillas heated up in the oven, covered in a damp dishcloth so they don't get dried out 'n everything!). We kind of have this unspoken thing, where one person makes dinner, and the other person does the dishes.  So, after our meal I got up to do my duty... and what do I find?  My dear boyfriend has once again been using the handle cozy I made for the skillet.  He has no idea how happy this makes me; the idea that someone actually uses something I made because they genuinely like it, not just because they love me.  I squealed with delight after finding it saying "Awww, you used the thingie I made!"  I like how he just looked over at me with this 'duh' look on his face and responded, "yeah.  I don't like burning my hands."  Who said romance is dead?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Celebration and a civilizing influence

Need a napkin after greasy Chinese take out?
Words cannot describe how giddy I felt at watching the reaction after posting my "Stalwart Staghorn" pattern onto Ravelry.  Let's just put it this way, I took a screenshot of how many people "favorite"-ed the pattern and sent it to my mother.  I don't know if she's going to print it out to hang in the gallery (the gallery referring of course to the refrigerator door).  However, she did make time to forward my email full of glee onto her sisters.

This evening when Daniel got home (and after he learned that I thawed some fish for dinner), he suggested we celebrate by ordering in.  That may not sound like a big thing, but for us it is a rare occurrence (like less than 10% of the time).  We finally decided to try the Chinese place nearby that delivers.  As we sat down, it occurred to me that another of my "nesting" projects was here on the table, namely a napkin holder.  Don't knock it!  Up until I crocheted this little bugger, we were daintily blotting our mouths with paper towels.  Hey, I count myself lucky, not only was he aware of napkins, but he was using a substitute on a regular basis.  Sorry ladies, he's taken.

And thus, Brawny man rejoiced.
The napkin holder itself is crocheted, and was really easy.  It's increasing two double crochets on each side, with a V stitch at the corners.  This makes a nice square, and since it's only holding napkins, I figured it didn't have to have the same attention to detail as Kate Middleton's wedding dress.  After it was a little wider than the napkins, I did a few rows of singles for a firm edge.

Incidentally, I just want to thank everyone who visited for the warm fuzzy feeling.  Right now, less than eleven hours after posting the pattern, 83 people have labeled it as a "favorite" on ravelry, and 22 people have it in queues.   My little old blog here has received 136 hits.  In this weird way, I feel like a knitting rock star (though I'm probably only a groupie).  So... THANK YOU EVERYONE!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Stalwart Staghorn Cable Fingerless Gloves by me!

The unapologetic feminine version 
I love cables.  Love.  I might consider leaving my boyfriend if it came to him or knitted cables, but fortunately neither one has given me the ultimatum.  Daniel thinks my addiction to knitting and passionate adoration to cables is a little odd, but in a cute way.  Poor man, I don't think he realizes the depth of my affection for these twisting winding stitches.

One of my favorites is the Staghorn cables, with its lovely branches spreading outward.  Since I'm forever knitting things for other people, it's a particularly nice choice since it doesn't shriek "girly".  By not being overly intricate or lacy, even burliest bros in your life aren't threatened by this cable.  Personally, I think that this cable is a wonderful balance between the simplicity men typically desire and something that won't bore you to death while knitting.  Of course, that being said, it's not like the staghorn cable is exclusively in the boy's club.

Putting the stag back in staghorn
So now, may I introduce (drum roll please) my first attempt at writing a pattern (TA-DA!).  After careful perusal, and then a more leisurely glance; I'm pretty sure I've worked out the kinks.  Then again, it is my first attempt, so it probably looks as if I've had ti many martoonis before writing it.  If you happen to find some, or perhaps it makes about as much sense as a mad hatter, send me an email at daniaerickson@gmail.com.  Otherwise, without further ado, here's a link to the pdf for "Stalwart Staghorn*.  (and three cheers to Google docs!)
*All rights to the pattern and design "Stalwart Staghorn" are protected by copyright. Dania Erickson 2011.  Updated on 11/17/2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Just Coasting

Today hasn't been one of my best days.  It was one of those days where I had a hard time staying out of bed.  Trying to write a blog post has been like a trip to the dentist without Novocaine.  I had a few ideas for things I would talk about, Regretsy and the awesomeness that is April Winchell, or perhaps an update on my WIPS. But for the moment, I'll take a pass and merely coast today.

Actually, this reminds me of another kind of coasting that I did during a stressful time.  In April, after having spent a week with my boyfriend in Illinois, he and I had a rather serious conversation.  We had formed an attachment to each other, but at the same time, we both realized we weren't looking for a long distance relationship.  Slightly inconvenient since I've lived my entire life in Southern California.  What to do?  After hemming and hawing, discussing all the options, both mundane and those that defied physics (my brother was scheduled to have a transporter invented around a decade ago... my mother has reserved the upstairs closet for that express purpose for the past twenty-five years), we decided the best option was for me to go live with him.

After that decision I began my hand wringing in earnest.  Was I doing the right thing?  While I'd practically lived with boyfriends before, I actually hadn't technically moved in with them.  This was definitely something new.  I started to pack, and really freak out.  At that time my own personal therapy involved black cotton yarn.  When I had visited, I noticed that my heathen boyfriend didn't really use coasters.  Of course he had some nice ones featuring vintage bottles for wine glasses (but oddly no wine glasses).  So, when I wasn't packing and was trying to regain my tenuous grasp on sanity, I would sit and stitch these simple check pattern coasters to take with me.  In a silly weird way, it reminded me that we were knitting our lives together.  Just like knitting was uncomfortable when I started, it's become natural and a comfort.  I confess, it's the same living with Daniel (oh, incidentally, we use these coasters all the time, no more halos for the coffee table).