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Friday, November 30, 2012

Learn to Knook: Knook in the Round

Knowing how to work in the round is essential, and this is coming from someone who once took a three-hour Nap of Despair when I discovered that knitting in the round would almost always call for double pointed needles if you were making a hat.  I've learned how to use DPNs since then, and they're not terrible.

But I do really, really, and I mean really see the appeal of working in the round with the Knook.  No dropped stitches, no switching out needles, and the Knook you use for making a scarf is the same as for a hat so you don't need to extra sets of needles!  I find myself falling a little more in love with this weird little hook every day.  I'm not joking.

Knitting will probably always be my yarncraft activity of choice, but please see how simple Knooking in the round is.  Seriously, watch this:

See?!  How great would it be to use this for something small?  Like a baby hat!  They're so tiny!  And the yarn is slippery and soft, so the needles just fly out of the stitches and roll away somewhere!  (Stop laughing, you smug crocheters.) I have babies on the brain because firstly, there is one living in my house and she'll actually wear hats.  I have to take advantage of this while I can.  Secondly, I happen to know a lot of expectant people and if there's anything I've learned about gift-giving, it's that people love little bitty baby things.

Do you have any idea what kind of squeals and chest-clutching this hat would cause at a baby shower?

Oh right, I just remembered that grown-ups have heads, too.  So there are also adult hats!  Or coffee cozies!  Or the sleeves on a baby sweater because I hate doing those for some reason!  Or!  Or!  Make up your own.  If you can work in the round, you can do A LOT of things.

You should feel proud!  Working in the round is something a lot of people see and say, "Oh, that looks too complicated," and that's too bad.  Knitting in the round is actually a favorite activity for some crafters, and Knooking in the round is even simpler.  Once you get the hang of it, and I know you will, it's fine and you'll be able to make lots of wonderful things.

Like those little bitty baby hats.  If you'll excuse me, I have some patterns to look over now....

(......dies from cute.)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tips for a Better Holiday Knitting Experience

(Disclaimer: whenever I write "knitting" I mean "knitting or crocheting or Knooking."  But knitting is my main craft and so that's what I usually type out by default.  But if you want to read the word "knitting" and replace it with "weaving" or "making those giant wire mesh wreaths" or "baking and painstakingly decorating 250 Christmas cookies," that's fine.)

I've already talked about how taking some names off your holiday knitting list makes things a bit easier, but even if you halved your list of recipients you'll still have a bit of work ahead of you.  So here are some thoughts on how to make your holiday knitting a little more pleasant and efficient.  Pick and choose (or ignore!) as you see fit:

Be realistic.  Now is not the time for afghans.  You could probably whip out a shawl or two if you have magical powers but you'd still lose a lot of sleep, which is going to make your breakdown all the more painful when you realize you misread the chart in a sleep-deprived stupor--20 rows back.  Not that I'm speaking from experience.  Look at your life, look at your choices.  Try to figure out how much time per day you can spend on knitting and try to plan your projects accordingly.

Stick with what you know.  Most of us have some favorite patterns, or go-to items for making a quick and simple gift.  Mine is an old-fashioned toboggan pattern that I've made at least 10 hats from in the past 2 years, and I have plans to make 2 or 3 more before the month is over.  Haul out your favorite books or pamphlets!  Enjoy those familiar patterns and save yourself some confusion and frustration.

Check your stash.  No, really check it.  Take a good hard look at what you have before you get started on a project.  Do you think you have 3 skeins of that yarn you need, or are you just mostly sure you saw it around somewhere?  I was convinced I had two skeins of red yarn, but didn't.  I forgot to update my stash page on Ravelry, and I saw it so many times on my page that I thought I'd seen it somewhere in my home.  But it was already crocheted up into a little sweater for my baby.  Oops.  There are few things worse than interrupting your precious knitting time to run out and buy yarn.  Unless we're talking about buying yarn from a different dye lot, or that the store may not carry anymore.  During Christmas.  I went to my local Michael's last weekend.  I'm not going back (for a while).  Dig in.  Dump out.  Burrow.

Ravelry.  Ravelry is my solution to just about everything.  It's just awesome.  If you do knit something new because someone asked for something specific, use the advanced pattern search to narrow down your options.  And always click the "Has photo" box.  There's no way you can try to knit your friend that hat she saw in the ad if you can't see a picture of it online.

This is one of my favorite parts about the pattern search options on Ravelry.  You can check a box for how much or how little yarn a pattern requires, and see the little arrow?  That's where you can select patterns that use yarn you have in your stash (assuming you keep your stash more current than mine).  It takes a lot of guesswork out of things when you're searching through patterns and trying to figure out if you can wiggle around the gauge guidelines by using what you already have.

Check your other stash.  My stash is just a small collection of baby hats and a couple of scarves, but maybe you have a little more foresight than me.  You probably do.  Is there something you made for someone who is no longer on your list?  Assign it to someone who is.  What about something you've had just hanging around?  This morning I made a cowl from......a disaster.  I knitted a short scarf a couple of years ago out of some beautiful multicolored mohair yarn.  I can't unravel it and re-work it, though, because after a natural disaster damaged some of my things my parents washed some of my wool items.....and then dried them. (I might have told them it was okay to do so. I was pretty distracted at the time.) My dad even mentioned ironing some things.  So I took this very dense and very clean little scarf, sewed the ends together, and bundled it up for a friend's birthday.  It's not the best thing ever, but I'd tried and failed 4 times to make this person a cowl and it just wasn't working and was really setting me back on my knitting schedule.  Try re-working what you have into a gift or two.

WIP it.  WIP it good. I'm really sorry about that pun.  Wait, no.  I'm not sorry at all.  What do you have on your needles that you could finish up for someone?  Was there a scarf you started for yourself and then ignored because it just wasn't your style?  Would your sister like it instead?  Then pick up that work in progress!

Gift cards.  I know, I know.  This is about holiday knitting.  But if you're taking care of a baby who won't sleep, a spouse or parent who's sick, or your own injuries or illness,  then just tuck some money into a thoughtful card and start planning your birthday knitting.  You may as well enjoy the season, and I hope that you do! 

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Learn to Knook: Rib Stitch Left-Handed

It's time for another left-handed tutorial!

Here's the video for a P1K1 rib stitch.

Video can also be found here.

Like the nice lady says in the video, it really does create a marvelous fabric.  It's flexible and stable, and I really like the look of ribbing.  Most patterns call for a K2P2 (knit 2 stitches and purl 2 stitches) ribbing, but any repeat of knit and purl stitches counts as rib stitch.  And since any knitting pattern can be done with a Knook, you can Knook up any knitting pattern.

That being said, I'm enjoying learning to knit with the Knook on patterns specifically written for the Knook.  Here's the latest project I finished up:

H/8 Knook with Lily Sugarn' Cream in the Hot Green colorway.

I'm still working my way through Dishcloths Made with the Knook, and this is the Dots pattern. 


I try to be positive and learn from my experiences, but what I've learned from this project is that I really hate making dots.  Hate.  That's too bad, because they look so cute and cheerful.  If you like making dots, though, then this is the pattern for you!  You'll be making nearly a dozen dots every two rows!  I gave this dishcloth to my sister, along with the two others I've made, as a hostess gift for having us all over for Thanksgiving.  She really liked it--the blindingly bright colors were chosen for her--and seemed a little sad when I said I never wanted to make a dot ever again.

It really is a shame, because this is a cute pattern.

A cute dishcloth!  It doesn't happen often.  But there is a pattern in the book that uses a type of rib stitch, and I may just do that one next.  I don't know if it will be as cute as the Dot pattern, but I bet it will be marvelous.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Make Your List, Check it Twice.

If I could say anything about handcrafting all your gifts for the holidays, it would probably boil down to one word: don't.

I'm not a Scrooge!  Really!  I love knitting and crocheting.  I love some wonderful people.  Sometimes I love making things from yarn and giving them to the people I love.  BUT: only a portion of my Christmas gift list includes yarncraft items.  I'm lucky that my family just draws names, so I technically only have to make one sister a hat.  It's a simple pattern, I've got the yarn, and it won't take me too very long at all to make.  However, I do want to make my mom something and my brother has a birthday in December and my other sister asked for a hat to wear in December last year and it's my own fault that I didn't work on it during the year.  And my mother-in-law asked my husband to ask me if I could make her a hat, but didn't want to ask me herself because she knew holiday knitting can stress a person out.  The fact that she was considerate about the whole totally ensured that I would make her a hat! (I would have anyway, though.)

Am I stressed about holiday knitting?  Not yet!  Will I stress about holiday knitting?  Probably not.  Any time I do start to feel a little panicky, I remind myself that I'm not trying to finish 10 scarves and feel better about things.

I did that one year. I wore myself out and it wasn't any fun.  I love my friends, but I don't knit or crochet for them at Christmas time anymore.  There's too many of them.  Since I can't whine about having lots of friends that I love so much, I've just stopped giving them handmade gifts.  Instead, I decided last year to give people handmade items on their birthdays.  It's might be a little strange to get a cowl or a hat in the middle of the summer, but my friends and family are absolutely knitworthy people who know how to receive a handmade gift.   When I gave my sister an alpaca cowl in June, she immediately put it on and then posed for pictures so I could put them on my Ravelry project page.  When my other sister got a shawl during the hottest August on record, she wrapped it around her neck, thanked me profusely, and didn't take it off until we had ice cream cake.

Which brings me to my next point: just take take anyone who isn't knit-worthy (crochet-worthy/Knook-worthy/time-worthy) off your handmade gift list.  Give them a gift card.  Give them cash.  Give them a stack of frozen pizzas.  Give them something they'll enjoy and appreciate.   Just don't use up your time and yarn on someone who doesn't like yarn things!  Don't do it!  Don't wear yourself out!

If you like this sort of thing, though--the late nights, the bleary eyes, the adrenaline rush you get from weaving in your ends and shoving your finished project into a gift bag on the car ride over to Grandma's--I can't stop you.  If you like that, awesome!*  Enjoy!  For those of you who just get cranky and flustered from that sort of thing, I feel you.  And I'm here to help.

I'm going to talk about actually giving presents later in the week, but for now we're going to address how to be super mean and 'selfish'.  It's weird to hear crafters say that something is a "selfish project" because they're making it for themselves, but if you've ever made anything with your hands ever in the history of time then you know there are people out there who expect you to make them something.

People who expect you to make them something are the first ones to cross off your list.  I once gave someone a knitted baby gift who really seemed to appreciate it, but said "When I invited you, I thought 'oh, she better make the baby something!'"  Oh.

People who don't treat yarn items well are also off the list.   If your friend is one of those people who doesn't sort her laundry and throws it all in the washer on 'medium'--do not give her a woolen hat!  It will shrink and felt and get so small that it won't fit a cat and you'll both be embarrassed.  Even the most durable fibers need some degree of tender loving care.  One of my grandmothers made my sisters and me lots of little baby sweaters and even a few crocheted dresses.  Since they were for children, my Mamaw wisely used either cotton or acrylic because, well, children are messy.  My mom treated them like they were gold.  Super-delicate and important gold spun by angels and crafted by fairies.  She  always washed them by hand, laid them out flat to dry, and stored them carefully for a couple of decades.  As a result, my family actually has heirlooms now and I have my pick of vintage sweaters for my daughter.

People who don't use what you make are off the list.  The Yarn Harlot has some pretty great advice on how to receive a knitted gift (it's the first hit on Google if you search "how to receive a knitted gift"), but my big test is to see if someone wears or uses what I made them.  That's really all I care about.  I made the hat/dishcloth/whatever, to help someone keep warm or help them dress up a little.  If they don't like a particular fiber or style, that's one thing.  But if they don't enjoy something, I don't keep giving them that one thing every year!  This is why my little brother has no scarves.  He's not a scarf guy.  My sisters, however, wear them every day in the winter.  I think sometimes my mom wears them just so someone can compliment her and then she can beam and say, "Thank you!  Jen made this for me."  And then she makes sure to tell me about it.  A few of my friends and relatives do this, and it's my favorite part!  Well, after the part where I give people gifts and they love them.

Which is why this kid isn't getting any amigurumi gifts this year:

I love my little girl.  I really do.  She is the only person I love enough to make a sweater for--in fact, she's wearing the fourth sweater I've ever finished in that picture.  All of the sweaters I've finished have been for her.  But she has consistently hated and/or feared every toy I've ever knitted or crocheted for her.  As adorable as I think a little crocheted Nativity scene with lots of animals would be, it's just not going to happen this year.  Yes, even the tiny light of my life is (partially) on the "Do Not Give Handmade Things" list.  Maybe I am a Scrooge.

Or maybe not.  I think it's important to have boundaries and rules about how I give out my gifts.  It's easy to feel burnt out if you feel unappreciated.  I do this because I like yarncrafting, and I don't want to work on something I don't enjoy because I'm feeling like I have to.  It's so much more pleasant to make what I want for whom I want.

Speaking of what I want, I want to know your horror stories--I know everyone has them.  Or, tell me your own rules about gifts or holiday gift schedules!  Do you take requests?  Have you sworn off Christmas knitting or crocheting altogether?  Tell me, assuming you can make the time. The holiday knitting and crocheting season is upon us, after all.

*And yes, I know there are some of you who had all of your Christmas projects planned at the beginning of the year and you probably finished them all up before the weather even turned cooler.  I don't even know what to say to you because you're like aliens from other universes.  I guess the only thing I could offer up is "Good work, you hyper-efficient freaks**!"

**I don't mean "freaks" in a bad way.  It probably just sounds a little harsh because I'm very impressed and a tiny bit jealous of you right now.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Learn to Knook: Rib Stitch Right-Handed

Last year I knitted this little Santa hat for my baby.  There's no pattern, or maybe I cobbled together 2 or 3 patterns and mangled them into something else--there was a lot of sleep deprivation going on at the time, so I don't remember very well.  But I thought I'd show you this  because that is one cute baby, and because, like most hats, it has ribbing and that's what I'm talking about today.

Ribbing helps the hat sit snugly on your head when the crown may be a bit large, or it can let the hat stretch--but not to the point of stretching out the hat--if the crown is a bit too small.  Ribbing is stretchy and forgiving and I like the way it makes nice, orderly rows.  Ribbing holds things in place (think gloves, socks, and hats) and makes a knitted fabric lay flat (think sweaters).  My hat is knitted, but since you can use a Knook to do any knitting stitch you can totally learn the ribbed stitch with the Knook:

Video can also be found here.

If you already know how to knit and purl with your Knook, then you'll have no problem working the rib stitch.  The most difficult thing for me is setting up the knitting after casting on or picking up my stitches.  It helps to say "knit" or "purl" out loud as I'm getting started.  After that, you just follow the pattern the stitches have practically set up for you.  Score!

Ribbing is typically used as the edging for garmets, but I must say that one of my favorite pair of booties from my Mamaw is just ribbed tubes that she knitted flat with doubled yarn and then stitched up.  I know that's not a real pattern, but I think it's a great way to learn this stitch while keeping someone warm.  I'm also hoping that if I make a pair for my husband for Christmas this year, he'll stop dropping unhelpful hints about how much he would love some socks.*   I'm a bit of a chicken about socks.  But not about ribbing!  I love ribbing.  I hope you do, too.  Happy Knooking!

* I love my husband, but I don't think we're at a point in our relationship where I love him enough to learn to knit socks and then make one for his Size 13W feet--and then do it all over again for his other foot.  Maybe for our silver anniversary.  We can re-name the twenty-fifth year as the wool anniversary.  Which would be fine by me.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Free Pattern Friday, and Other Things You Need in Your Life

Happy Black Friday!  I know Black Friday isn't an official holiday, but .......no, maybe it is.  By the time you read this, I'll be hunkered down at my parents' house way out in the country because it just seems safer there.  Whether you're at work doing business as usual, hiding at home with your sweatpants and leftovers, or you're one of those crazy souls out there shopping, I hope you're having fun and feeling safe.

In the spirit of bargains and free stuff on this day of getting ALL THE THINGS, I thought I'd encourage you to sign up for the Leisure Arts newsletter if you aren't already a subscriber.  It's just a weekly email newsletter that lets you know what the fine folks at Leisure Arts are doing.  You'll learn about soon-to-be-released publications, sales on the website, and--drumroll here--get a free pattern!  And it's a real pattern!  It's a not reject from one of their books!  It's a real pattern from a real pattern book that's been carefully designed and test knitted/crocheted.  It's fantastic!

 My favorite part of this is that you check some boxes of your interests when you sign up for your weekly email.  If you check knitting or crocheting, or both, you get a pattern to suit your interests.  If you're a crocheter, you only get a crochet pattern.  There won't be Fridays where you're left hanging with a knitting pattern that's really great, but totally useless to you.

My next-to-favorite part is that you won't be attacked by a bajillion spam emails once you're on the newsletter list.  I've been a subscriber for a while and my inbox has been fine.  It's important.

I hope you're safe and enjoying yourself today, and I'm super pumped about writing posts about Christmas projects next week!  Yes, I'm sure most of us have already started our holiday crafting a long time ago.*  And I know plenty of you had your trees up before Halloween.  But I just can't post about Christmas until after Thanksgiving!  I'm just an old-fashioned blogger that way.  But I'm really looking forward to it.  And I can't wait to get started on that!

*To those of you who haven't: bless your heart.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

I'm thankful for many wonderful things in my life, but I thought I would make a list here about all of the craft-related things for which I'm truly and deeply grateful.

  • I am thankful for grandmas who taught me to knit and crochet.  Working with yarn has always been a great way to express my creativity, and working a simple pattern when I'm stressed or anxious never fails to make me feel calm.  Those women gave me a big gift when they taught me how to keep my hands busy.
  • I am thankful for parents who didn't know it was weird to let an eleven-year-old knit in public (or at least they acted like they didn't), and who always encouraged me to explore interests that made me happy.
  • I am thankful for granny squares.
  • I am thankful to live near a really great local yarn store.  That's right next to a Starbucks. 
  • I am thankful for the knitting group in my area.  That meets in a place that sells lots of baked goods.
  • I am thankful for a husband who has stopped asking "When are you going to have all the needles?  How many sizes of knitting needles can there be?"
  • I am thankful for a beautiful little girl.  She is sweetness and joy and every day of my life is better because I know her.  I am also thankful for how quickly tiny baby items knit/crochet up (usually).
  • I am thankful that my beautiful little girl will keep those handknit hats on her head (again, usually).
  • I am thankful for Ravelry.  It's really made my year so much better. Seeing how other people use their yarn and patterns, and getting to talk to some of those people, has been absolutely awesome.
  • I am thankful for family and friends who appreciate the time and effort I put into handmade gifts, and who wear the hats and scarves and cowls with pride and enthusiasm.
  • I am thankful for alpaca.
  • I am thankful for the chance to talk to you here.  Carrying on and on about craft-related awesomeness and hearing your stories is, well, awesome.  I hope you're having a happy holiday with people you care about, and that you have much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Learn to Knook: Left-Handed Purl Stitch

Here's the video for learning to purl left-handed on the Knook:

There's a longer video here that has a lot of extra information on the properties of stitches and shows you how to bind off in the purl stitch.   I highly recommend clicking that link.

Is that all I've got to say today?  No.  It's time for a knitting confession.

I knit wrong.  I've known this for a while.  Whenever I watched videos demonstrating techniques like knitting two stitches together or slip-slip-knit--they're NOT the same thing--I would notice that I didn't knit the way the person in the video did.  But I assumed that it was because the person in the video was a 'thrower' (English knitters move the yarn over the needle with their free hand) and I am a 'picker' (Continental knitters sort of pull the yarn through the loop with their needle).  My Mamaw told me once I knitted "funny," but I had mostly forgotten that.

What I didn't realize, even though it's painfully obvious, was that I also purl wrong. Mamaw taught me to knit (after my Grandmother refused to teach me to knit because she said she knitted wrong and didn't want me to learn her way.  Well.) and then released me back into the wild and I went on my merry way of knitting however I wanted and never thought about consulting books or videos to make sure I was still doing things right after so many years.

Even when I started to learn techniques beyond the basic knit and purl stitches, it never occurred to me to make sure I was knitting or purling correctly.  I mean, sure, I'd watched that Elizabeth Zimmerman video (mostly just for entertainment) and I knew I didn't knit quite like her, but I figured everyone has their own little quirks and knits in a slightly different way from everyone else, right?  Right?

Um, not quite to this extent.

I didn't even get it when I started going to a knitting group on Saturday nights and noticed that most of the people there seemed to knit like each other!  Oh, such ignorance and naivete!

There were other signs--the biggest one being that I'd follow a pattern as closely as possible as many times as I could stand it and then still have it turn out wrong.  (I know.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.)

Finally, I watched the DVD Knit Stitches in Motion.  I was just about to start blogging over here and I wanted to familiarize myself with more Leisure Arts patterns and instructional materials.  And then it happened.

Oh. my. goodness.  I was purling wrong.  So very wrong.

I am not even exaggerating when I tell you that all the blood drained from my face and I nearly fell off the couch to find the remote so that I could re-watch the purling section again.  Again.  And again.  Then I shouted in my husband's face, "I've been purling wrong for close to 20 years!"  He replied, "I guess....ah, that's bad?"  Yes, it's bad!  I was seriously freaking out!  How am I supposed to talk about yarn crafting when I'm such a fraud?!  How am I supposed to function like a knitter knowing this about myself?!  And what is wrong with me?  Could it be fixed?

Not really.

At this point in the game, muscle memory tries to convince my hands that I'm doing something ridiculous and wrong every time I try to purl correctly.  After a month or so of my private shame, I went ahead and told the other knitters in my group about my horrible affliction.  They watched me knit and purl a few stitches, and then someone explained that I twist the stitches when I purl.  Then I untwist them when I work the knit row.

Side note: This explains why I tried and failed six times to knit a hat with a twisted rib pattern.  It just looked ribbed.  Duh.

It's not like anyone made fun of me, but I did get some odd looks when the other knitters tried to figure out how or why I wound up doing that--and then did it for so long.  "I mean, I guess if it works for you....." one of them offered.  Ugh.  So now I get to go through life reminding myself "No, you have to purl like a real person for this pattern.  Wait, no, now you have to knit correctly too!"

So why am I embarrassing myself on the Internet and taking up a lot of your time?  So you will learn from my mistakes.  This is my desperate attempt to convince you that you must absolutely watch videos for seemingly simple techniques.  Unless, of course, you're a left-handed person and you're probably already watching these.  Hi!

That's why watching the left-handed videos has been so helpful for me.  Seeing another side--literally--of the knitting helps me at least understand how a stitch is supposed to work.  I don't always do that stitch because I've caught myself Knooking wrong, though.  Of course.

Watch the video.  Save yourselves from my fate.

Here's another washrag I made from the Dishcloths Made with the Knook ebook.

"Lace" pattern with the H/8 Knook and the Lily Sugarn' Cream cotton yarn in the Hot Blue colorway.  I think I have enough yarn left for another dishcloth.  Score!

I thought this was pretty fancy as far as cleaning supplies go.

So far my goal of Knooking each of the ten patterns is going pretty well.  I'm learning different stitches techniques on the Knook, and making a nice little pile of gifts in the process.  I've made two, and have two more on the needle. 

AND: for the record, I've been trying to Knook the purl stitch correctly as much as I can stand to.  My rehabilitation may never be complete.  But I'm hopeful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Learn to Knook: Right-Handed Purl Stitch

Some people don't like the purl stitch, maybe because there's a little bit more movement in pulling the yarn through each stitch.  But I like it.  Once you know the knit and purl stitches, you can do a lot.  If you knit one side of your work and purl the other side, you're knitting the stockinette stitch.  This may seem like an obvious point but I thought I'd let any newer knitters know.  I went way too long thinking stockinette was some weird and mysterious thing that I was going to have to learn new stitches for when most techniques really just involve variations on the plain ol' knit and purl.  You could make almost anything!

Or just this dishcloth:

Size H/8 Knook and Lily Sugar'n Cream Stripes in the Violet Stripes colorway.
My first Knooked project went fairly well.  I think I finally got the hang of things around halfway through, and then everything went immensely better.  I also realized a lot of the problem was that I don't like working with cotton yarn.  But it's kind of gross to make a washrag out of a wool/acrylic blend and I have a few more skeins of the cotton.  I've decided now that I'm going to make every dishcloth pattern in the book Dishcloths Made with the Knook.  That's ten different ways to try out my Knooking skills, and a great way to build up a little gift stash. 

Even if you already know how to knit, using the Knook to learn new stitch techniques might take some of the pressure off of the process when you have what I've started thinking of as the Cord of Security and Happiness.  Having all my stitches safely on that little cord makes me feel a bit more steady about techniques that are still tricky for me, like knitting two stitches together or purling into the back of a yarnover (I'll tell you all about it later.  Promise).

Or maybe just having a hook on the end of your needle will help you out with any purling problems you may have.  Here's the video to show you how:

Learn this stitch!  It's so much easier than getting ready for Thanksgiving!*    Do it!

*But what isn't?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Surprise Crochet Sweater for Baby: Let's See What You Can Do

Hey, remember that time I wrote a post about the Rainbow Crochet Pattern Afghan and I got to talk to some really nice Ravelry users about their afghans and then I showed you their cool pictures?

That was a lot of fun for me, so I decided to write another post like that.  This time I picked the Surprise Crochet Sweaters for Baby projects.  These are crocheted sweater modeled on the knitted Baby Surprise Jacket.  As someone who's tried (and failed.....twice) to knit a Baby Surprise Jacket, I was really interested in the idea of a crocheted version and I really liked the look of crochet stitches for the project rather than the garter stitches of the knitted original.

So once again, I looked through people's project pages and sent messages to some talented crocheters who got really creative with their use of color.  Everybody I talked to was very nice, and now I get to show you their handiwork! 

HelenJHarris named her project the "Joyful Baby Surprise" which seems beautifully appropriate to me.  All of the pinks and purples remind me of Care Bears, and this seems like a socially acceptable option for when you feel like dressing your little girl up like a Care Bear.  (I know I'm not the only mom who has those days.)

This is brooklyncowgirl's version of the jacket.  She wrote in her project notes that she wanted to taper the sleeves and waist a little so if you're not a big fan of the boxy frame, rest assured that it's simple enough to do if you want to try it.

 Here is GrannyMax's Ruffled Sweater.  I'm usually not a fan of super-bright pinks for babies, but something about the yellow ruffles evens it out to be cute and vibrant.


 I also love the blues and yellows in the yarn.  So beautiful.

 HoosierLady's jacket really reminds me of Thomas the Tank Engine.  I'm not sure if I'm conveying this very well, but I mean that in a complimentary way.


I love all the red stripes!

She also stuck with the basic sweater pattern for this Girly Girl version, and just added ruffles after the fact.  And now I'm thinking about Cabbage Patch dolls.  Maybe it's something about the pastels. Whatever it is, I love the little touches of pink here and there.  It's so precious!

This is Mariposalila's Little Owl Sweater, and it kills me every time I look at it.  And I don't mind telling you I've looked at a lot lately.  This is just too ridiculously cute.  I'm having a hard time handling it.

I mean, there's an owl applique to go with the tiny baby owl buttons!


 Maybe I'm starting to get Christmas on the brain, but meripurdy's collared version looks incredibly festive to me without being over-the-top about it.  The browns and reds make it look so warm!

 I love merryknitter's use of primary colors.  So cheerful!

 I was really excited to see how many of these sweaters could be for a little boy or a little girl (I think handmade baby gifts should be passed around to everyone), and I think this is a perfect example.

I do love the soft blue of Nobe's little jacket, though.  The light blue is just so classic (and would look precious on a boy or a girl), and the model is gorgeous!

 This is RockportMo's ruffled version of the pattern.  The book offers some different stylings of the jacket, and I really, really love this one.  Little baby girls covered in little frilly ruffles are just adorable!

This is vibeskat's take on the pattern.  I really love all these warm colors, because this looks like the perfect fall sweater for some little person.

One of the things I really liked about this version's stripes is how well they help you see the jacket's construction.  Just lovely.


If you have a Ravelry account, click here to view all of the projects for the Surprise Crochet Sweaters for Baby book.  I really love this adorable pattern and I had a blast seeing what other people did with it--it's #3 in my queue now!  After seeing so many interpretations that made me think of beloved childhood toys and characters, I'm strongly tempted to make something in Bert or Ernie colors. Also, if you want to be friends, I'm jenandstuff on Ravelry.

And if you want to buy the book, click here to buy the epattern.  Several people mentioned finishing this little sweater over a weekend, and it could make a sweet little gift for a sweet little person this Christmas--while taking care of some leftover yarn.  Everyone's happy!

*A very big thanks to all the lovely crocheters who talked to me about their projects and let me use their pictures.  You're super creative and super sweet to let me show off your work.  I loved talking to each of you and looking through your pictures.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Learn to Knook: Left-Handed Knit Stitch

It's left-handed Knooking time!

Like I said before, I like watching the left-handed videos just to get a perspective on how the process works that I wouldn't have if I only watched the right-handed ones.  These left-handed videos can be super handy for everyone!

 And I know they can be a bit small, but if you look in the bottom right-hand corner you'll see a little square that you can click on to bring the video to full screen mode. 

And, of course, if you want to view it at the Leisure Arts website, your link is here.  It's the very same video, but if you need that extra bit of clarity then they have it for you.  I hope you're enjoying these videos.  I know a left-handed knitter who's a visual learner.  She finally learned to knit after watching a right-handed knitter knit, and then she would try to follow the mirror image in a backwards sort of way.   So she can knit just fine now, but only after a lot of extra hard work.  

I believe in challenging myself to learn new things, but I don't like when a hobby feels like hard work.  Which is probably why I love video tutorials and why I already think I've Knooked enough on my knit/garter stitch swatch (just a reminder: if you knit on both sides of your project, then you're knitting the project in garter stitch) to have the hang of things.  I re-watched the bind off instructions, bound off my swatch, and now I feel good about my Knook knit stitch abilities.  It's like passing through the levels of a video game, or finishing up a chapter in a fun book!

This is apparently my idea of a good time.

So far, I'm really enjoying this Knooking endeavor.  Yesterday I learned the purl stitch so that I could try it out.  I think washrags are good swatch projects for trying out different stitches, and I want to give some to my sister next week as a hostess gift for having Thanksgiving at her house.

This is the Rib and Garter pattern from Dishcloths Made with the Knook.  It's just knit and purl stitches.

I'm already figuring out my Knook gauge stitch is about the same as my knitting gauge--crazy big.  I'll probably move down a size for my next washrag (this is with the H/8 Knook), but I don't what pattern I'll pick next.  Exciting stuff up ahead!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Learn to Knook: Right-Handed Knit Stitch

Hey there!  I tried to think of a craft-related pun greeting, but came up with nothing.  Maybe next time.  Regardless, here's the video for Knooking the knit stitch for right-handed crafters:

I watched the video through a couple of times and this is what I have:

For some reason, I feel obligated to offer up proof that I'm working along with the tutorials.

 I'm using some Vanna's Choice with the H hook/Size 8 needle from the Beginner Set.  Things are going much better this time around, and I really like this.  It's weird and fun, and when I accidentally knocked the whole thing off the windowsill, everything stayed the string and my day wasn't ruined!

Here a few tips I thought of while I was working with it this morning, and thought might be useful:

-Remember to turn your work, pull your excess thread through, and THEN pull the work off the needle.  I don't know why, but following that order exactly kept me from getting mixed up on my steps.
-The loops really aren't getting that tight on the thread.  They may look that way, just as they can with a circular knitting needle.  But it's just the weight of the knitted fabric pulling them down.  You should still be able to wiggle your Knook in there to bring the loop to its rightful size.
-Don't hold the Knook like you're crocheting!  It's pretty instinctive to do so if you're already a crocheter, but remember to hold it with the hook side facing downward.  It really made a difference for me, and also made it a little easier to remember to pull the yarn through the loop over the Knook tail.

If you're already a more seasoned Knook user, please feel free to throw out some suggestions in the comments!  I'd love to hear from you, and I'm sure other people would too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Learn to Knook: Getting Started and Left-Handed Foundation Chain

I've started my foundation chain with the Knook!  I'll get started on the next few steps soon, and I've already decided that I'm going to try to knit several of the dishcloths in the ebook, Dishcloths Made with the Knook once I get a little more familiar with this.  I thought it would be a good way to practice lots of stitches and have some dishcloths on hand for the next time someone gets married, or moves, or if I need some stocking stuffers.  Hooray for useful swatches!

And a second hooray for embedded videos!  Here's a video for Knooking a left-handed starting chain.  Boom.

I am so incredibly excited to be able to include videos in the posts!  But here's the link to the video on the Leisure Arts website, just in case you've gotten used to them.

I've really liked watching the left-handed videos for the Knook techniques.  They show how the yarn and needle are supposed to work from a different angle, and it helped me notice some things I need to do that I didn't catch when I watched the right-handed videos.  If you're a right-handed person and want a little more explanation on how to start Knooking, go ahead and watch the left-handed video up there--and vice versa for the lefties.  It's right there for you! I'm so excited about having videos in the post.  You have no idea how dumb I felt writing up video tutorial posts that had no videos in them.  It's a brand new day over here!

I hope you like it!  Happy crafting!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Learn to Knook: Getting Started and Right-Handed Foundation Chain

First: thank you for your kind words on yesterday's post!  I was pretty happy with my first attempts at cables.

Second: my daughter unraveled a swatch and it is no more.  Actually, she just pulled out a needle that I didn't realize was still on the couch and that was that.  I'm learning more and more about test swatches every day.  Now I know you can leave them out to see if your projects are safe around kids or pets and spare yourself the anguish of losing a 'real' project.

I know that you and I both know that nothing yarn-related is ever safe around kids or pets, but I can dream.  I can also explain to my toddler that the shiny blue knitting needle is not a toy, and yarn is a ball we can't play with.  And then I can try Knooking.  (In addition to adding a lot of Knook-related words to Firefox's dictionary. Holy smokes.)

If you've spent any amount of time on this blog, you're probably already familiar with what a Knook is and what it does.  But I like for things to be organized, and so I'm going to run you through the rigamarole all over again like I did with the Learn to Crochet series.

Plus, I'm going to learn to Knook and I'm going to need a place to talk about it.  I've worked on it a few times, but had trouble with turning my work.  I've re-watched the video on that to find out what I did wrong, and I'm ready to try again.

I was a little ambivalent about the Knook when I first saw it, but I can't deny the appeal of learning to knit with a crochet hook that's not quite a crochet hook.  It's a nice introduction to knitting for people who might be scared of two pointy sticks, and it has all the car-trip appeal of crocheting for people who have seen their share of knitting mishaps.  And the more I read through Knook pattern books and watch the instructional videos, the more excited I get about its crafting possibilities.  I even made a friend of mine take one home and try it because I think it might be something a loom knitter would want to explore.

Plus, yesterday's little debacle really clinched the deal for me.  I need projects that aren't quite so fragile.

So.  I'm pretty pumped about trying this and can't wait to start!

First step: Learning to thread your Knook and make a foundation chain.  Click here!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Books and Videos and Cables, Oh My!

I made cables!

For some reason, I've always thought knowing how to do cables was the mark of a Very Serious Knitter.  Now I've learned and I don't feel any different.  It's kind of like having a birthday.  I am glad I know how to do them now, though, and I'm going to make a hat or a baby sweater or something that looks nice cabled.  

I wrote in my last post that some people (like me) aren't big fans of knitting swatches, but I wanted to this time because I didn't want the pressure of trying out a new technique while trying to knit a whole item.   So last weekend, I sat down with a DVD of.......Henry V, starring Kenneth Branagh, also known as my imaginary boyfriend.

I was also sitting down with a copy of Expand Your Knitting Skills because it was long past time for me to get over my cable fears.  So I opened it up to the pattern for the Starter Cable Scarf, read the instructions for cables, and learned to cable with a minimum of crying and sweating.  I was using 'practice yarn', which is just some scraps from yarn that mysteriously turned up in my stash.  Since I didn't have much of it, I only knit for 10 or 12 inches.  By that point, I had used the cable needle enough to realize it wasn't all that tricky or scary.  The pattern is for an entire scarf, and I totally recommend it to you if you want to learn to knit cables, but don't want to knit something that can't be used and enjoyed.

This morning, I sat down with the DVD I Can't I'm Knitting Cables, Bobbles, & Lace.  It helped me figure out eyelets last week, and I wanted to try the nine-stitch braid.  So I did that as well, and it didn't even hurt.  Amazing! 

I started writing this as a compare and contrast type of post, and I was going to recommend that you check out a book or DVD that just shows you certain stitches and then you should buy something that has patterns.  But forget that.  Do what you want, but if you're in the mood to take advice: buy. 

Better yet, borrow a book from a friend or check it out from your library.  If you really, really like it, then buy a copy.  That's what I did with a lot of my pregnancy and baby books, and I think it's probably what I'm going to do with the DVD.

I need both of these in my arsenal.

It may seem like a bit 'much' to have instructional materials for stitches you're used to doing, but it can come in handy.  It's nice to have a refresher on stitches you might not make very often.  It's also great to have it on hand if you want to loan it to a friend--especially if he or she has a different learning style than you.  If you like learning from books, your books probably won't do a lot of good for someone who likes watching videos.  If you're like me, and you need to have the book in your lap and the DVD playing for some stitches (why is a simple yarnover so difficult?!), then you should definitely get your hands on both.

If I'm doing something wrong, please don't tell me in the comments.  Let me know if you're more of a book or a video person.  Actually, I don't want to go twenty years doing this upside or backwards like I did with purling.  Fine, maybe let me know if I'm doing something wrong.  But really, what kind of learner are you?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Making a Gauge Swatch

I have to be very honest here.  Gauge swatching is one of the most boring things ever.  I don't like doing it, sometimes my projects are still the wrong size after I make a gauge swatch, and a lot of times I don't make one at all.  I like to live dangerously.   Let me rephrase: I like to live dangerously when a baby sweater comes out too big and I've saved myself some time by making a five-year-old sweater.  The rest of the time, I get pretty disgruntled and then I vow that I'll never crochet or knit something without making a gauge swatch ever, ever again.  Loads of people much smarter and more eloquent than I am have talked about gauge much more clearly than I can.  But I'm going to write about it anyway because it's important and I've been thinking about it a lot lately.

Your gauge is the number of stitches you knit or crochet per inch.  But a lot of patterns have different ways of telling you how to find that.  You've probably noticed little notes in patterns, or even some yarn labels, saying something like "20 stitches and 32 rows = 4 inches".  This is the most common way of finding your gauge, and it just means that you need to cast on 20 stitches and knit them in whatever stitch your intended pattern requires, and once you've knit 32 rows you should have a swatch that measures 4 inches by 4 inches.  If your swatch is bigger than that, you need smaller needles--and maybe even a lighter yarn.  If your swatch is too small, you'll need to move up a needle size or two.  The most important thing to remember when making a gauge swatch (after you convince yourself that you really do need to do it) is that you just need to knit like you normally would

Sometimes I catch myself rushing through a swatch, which gets me a fairly large and messy swatch.  At other times, I try to knit 'nicely'.  I'm a loose knitter, but I actively dislike that term to the point that I'll try to knit neat and small stitches in an attempt to be 'good'.  The only problem is that I'll relax somewhere in the middle of the project and it balloons to ridiculous proportions. I also stumble a little when I crochet because I always forget I'm not a loose crocheter, and sometimes I'll automatically go down a few hook sizes and wind up with a very tight and very unpleasant project.  I'm going to have to remember to crochet swatches as well, before I do something really awful to my knuckles.

A few days ago, I decided to be a good little knitter and knit a swatch.  I've just now learned to knit cables, and I discovered that I really liked sitting on the couch during naptime and knitting something just for the sake of learning a new technique.  Even though cables weren't nearly as scary as I'd feared, I still don't want to mess up a project after I've made myself get nervous.  I wanted to knit the Lucky Horseshoe Hand Warmers.  So I pulled out some cute yarn, and the appropriate needles (ignoring the voice in my head that reminded me "You knit pretty big" in a sing-song tone) and watched some post-election coverage online while knitting my swatch and waiting for my daughter to wake up.

It was way too big.  I mean, it was out-of-control big.  I need to move to a Size 0 needle, which I don't have.  I went through denial and thought that maybe I could just make the warmers bigger and give them to someone with larger arms than mine, while ignoring the fact that I would definitely run out of yarn.  I resented the pattern for reasons that made sense at the time.  I thought that maybe I could make it work, but this was before I took what was supposed to be a back panel for one side of my arm and wrapped it almost entirely around my wrist. 

After that, I had no other choice but to unravel the swatch and feel grateful that I'd only used up an hour or so on the project instead of a few days before finding out that it wouldn't work. 

Swatches will probably never be my favorite thing, but it saves me a lot of time and frustration down the road.  It keeps me from wasting time and yarn, and it helps me get an idea of whether or not I really want to make this project anyway.  If I can't handle a certain yarn or pattern repeat long enough to make a little swatch, then I'm never going to finish that project and I really don't need any more half-finished projects sitting in the shadows with their judgement.  I'm running out of places to hide them. 

So treat your swatch like any other project.  Sit down in front of the TV if that's what you normally do.  Listen to some music if that's what you normally do.  Take it to a knitting group if you think you won't be met with cries of "Pfffft!  Gauge."  That way, if you have to rip back and start over with a different needle or hook, you've listened to a book on tape or watched a movie or caught up with friends.  If your pattern is in the round, make your swatch a smaller version of the project and mark off a four-inch section to check your gauge.  Some books might not call for it, but I know plenty of people who swear they knit a different gauge when they knit in the round.  And I don't know if the same holds true for crocheting, but I don't see what it could hurt.

"I don't see what it could hurt" pretty much sums up my approach to swatching.  Even if you're pretty confident that your knitting and crocheting will be fine (JUST FINE!) with a pattern, go ahead and make the swatch.  I don't see what it could hurt, but I can definitely see where it would help.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Learn to Crochet: Beginning Ring

It's the beginning ring post!

Beginning rings are pretty simple, so I'm not entirely sure why I saved them for last.  It probably has something to do with how most knitting tutorials and books cover lots of back-and-forth techniques before addressing working in the round.  Working in the round isn't especially scary or tricky once you get the hang of it (and I'm not just saying that because that's how most skills are), but there is something comforting in knowing that you're working with something flat and simple when you're just getting started.  I guess crochet is probably the same way.

But regardless of how you might view it, the beginning ring is easy and kind of fun.  At least I think they're fun.  I'm excited for you to know how fun they are for yourself!

Right-handed beginning ring video
Left-handed beginning ring video

Crocheting from a beginning ring is a lot like crocheting into any other chain....that goes into a circle.  Unlike knitting in the round, which usually results in something tube-shaped or bowl-shaped, crocheting from a beginning ring is part of a lot of flat projects that just so happen to be worked around and around.

 If you do want to crochet something with a rounded shape, this basket pattern got a pretty positive response on the Leisure Arts Facebook page.  I haven't tried it yet, but I think it would be a really cute way to organize a work table or a kitchen counter top.  Crocheting in the round is also how you get granny squares.  Which I obviously love a lot:

I guess my near-constant talk of granny squares makes a little more sense now.  Or maybe now you think I have some sort of problem.  But I had to show you just how much I love granny squares!  They're like really soft building blocks that come in all sorts of textures and colors that can keep you warm.  Last year, I didn't feel like finding a place to put up a Christmas tree while keeping it away from a nine-month-old who was pulling up on everything.  So I pulled out some green granny squares from my granny squares stash,* crocheted up a few more, and then sewed them together.

 The granny square tree was relatively safe from little hands, and packing up after the holidays was pretty easy.  This was also a really great way for our home to look a little more personal.  We moved when our daughter was only a couple of months old, and I quit decorating after I slapped some pictures on the walls.  I already knew I wouldn't have the time or energy to decorate for the holidays even though it's something I normally love doing.  But this tree was a nice expression of my interests and it was cute to boot!  I know I sound like I'm putting quite a bit of significance on a sweet little project, but it meant a lot to me at the time.  It was a creative outlet, it expressed my personality, and like I said: so cute.  I got more joy and satisfaction out of that project (and the compliments) than I did out of any other thing I made that season.

That's why I get so excited about crafting.  You can build whatever you want.  You can take whatever skills and time and resources you have, and use them to make something that you dreamed up.  Once you know a few simple stitches, you can follow a pattern or write one of your own.  You make a creation that's uniquely yours.  It can be enjoyed and appreciated by others, or it can just be something that makes you smile. 

Like a weird little Christmas tree. 

Or an afghan.  Or socks.  Or a basket or a hat or a scarf or a toy or anything else you have ever wanted to exist in yarn form.  You know the stitches.  Now go make something!

 *Because I have a stash of granny squares.  You never know when you'll need them!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Learn to Crochet: Left-Handed Treble Crochet Stitch in Foundation Stitches

Because I'm a high-tech and fancy person, I have a notebook for all of my blogging ideas.  I try to set out a schedule for when I'll publish posts and I have lists of ideas. In a few more weeks, I'll probably have some sticky notes poking out of the top. Super-impressive Internet stuff going on here!

Magnetic enclosures keep the scatterbrained thoughts from flying out everywhere.

Today's post was written out as "TR left foundation." The first time I glanced at it a day or so after writing it, I was confused about Teddy Roosevelt going somewhere.  I guess I'm just thinking a lot about Presidents right now.* 

Like I said last time, TR is the pattern abbreviation for "treble crochet" and, frankly, I wish the note was shorter because I like scribbling indecipherable codes in a notebook like a mad genius.  Now that I've revealed I'm not very much different at all from the nine-year-old reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" for the first time, let's have a moment to give thanks for legible notes and the organizational power of notebooks full of lists.

AND let's talk about left-handed crocheting and the treble stitch.  The treble (or "triple") stitch is called that because you make a stitch with your hook in three increments.  It's a little taller than a double crochet stitch, and I just like it a lot because it's cool-looking and really helpful to know how to do.  Curious about how to do it left-handed?

Here is your video!

This is one of the last crochet video posts I'll write.  I'll write a post about the beginning ring videos, and that will conclude the Learn to Crochet series (for now).  If you never wanted to crochet in the round, you could take off and do all kinds of crochet projects just with what you've already learned!  But don't be like that.  I don't want to get too dramatic and act like a life without knowing how to crochet baskets and granny squares and doilies and cowls and hats and little toys isn't worth living, but do you want that life?  Really?

I'll give you time to think about that while you practice your treble stitch.  I'll just be looking up my old Sherlock Holmes books.  We'll talk soon.

*Full disclosure: I wrote this post out ahead of time and scheduled it to post today.  I don't have a clue who the next President will be, and don't have anything to say other than "Wow, so the winner won!  How about that guy?"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Election Day!

If you haven't already done so through early or absentee voting, I hope you vote today!  I really love being an American and I love the democratic process.  It's one of my favorite things about this country, and I tend to get excited about having all these awesome rights and responsibilities.  As in, I was so pumped about my daughter's first presidential election that I crocheted something to celebrate Baby's First Election Day.

It's a donkey and an elephant!  I thought it would be easier than crocheting tiny candidates in suits.

I used Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe yarn in the Mercury colorway for both animals but now that they're all made up, I wish I'd had some light brown yarn for the Democrat donkey just for some variety.  Maybe for the mid-term elections in 2014, because I would love to do this again!

The donkey is a modified version of the Zebra pattern from the A Zoo for You ebook.  The mods were fairly straightforward.  Obviously, I used all gray instead of switching back and forth between black and white yarn, and making longer ears for a donkey.  I chained 8 or so stitches, turned, and crocheted 4 DC stitches in the third stitch from my loop.  Then I made a half-double crochet stitch, and then a single crochet stitch, and then I tied it off.  I sewed in the ends of the yarn through the length of the ears to try to stiffen them up and make them stand out.  They're still a little floppy, so he has a bit of an Eeyore look to him.  A thicker yarn probably would have made them stand up a little better, but I wanted something soft for my daughter.  I used some scrap yarn to make a mane and tail.

Then I changed up the legs by crocheting two tubes and folding them in half instead of making four individual legs because this is America!  We have freedom!  Even the freedom to mess up a perfectly good pattern!  I'm not going to bother telling you what I did because the donkey won't stand up.  Some mods work, and some don't. 

Let's talk about something else!

The ears crack me up.

I know that A Zoo for You also has an elephant pattern, but since I'd hit some speedbumps with that project (the pattern was fine, but I lost the crochet hook and didn't want to jinx myself just in case), I decided to pull out Easy Crochet Critters and try its Elephant pattern.  This time I followed the pattern exactly, except I left the eyes off.  I was worried about how well buttons and toddlers mix, but I may stitch some little eyes on with embroidery floss later.

It might not matter too much, though, because my daughter has already seen the donkey and got really freaked out by it.  She has a history of ignoring or hating little things I've made for her, so I was kind of already expecting it.  But I was a little surprised that when she saw it on the couch, she ran away and shook her head vehemently while almost crying.  She also refused to come back to the couch until I moved the amigurumi donkey of terror out of her line of vision.  I don't know what's going to happen when she sees the elephant, but I think I'm about to have some little friends to hang out with me in my office.  I hate to say it, but I'm a little pleased about that.

I really liked both of these little guys, and I definitely think you should make some for your inauguration watch party.  These little guys are probably going to be at mine!

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