People on Tinder Have Had Better Luck

So, the last couple of times I’ve gone to the store, I’ve ended up getting cakes of Lion Brand Mandala in “Spirit”, which is a gorgeous blue and gray colorway that really goes well with my eyes (which are…blue and maybe have a hint of gray).

What I didn’t realize is that I would start and frog this yarn (which was begging to be made into a shawl) somewhere around fifteen times. I thought I’d make the Solitude shawl (a crochet shawl pattern I found on Ravelry), but not only was the shawl not going to be the size of my liking, some of the stitch pattern also kept failing to line up. I got frustrated and by the time I got to the end of the cake, I decided I wanted to try and knit a shawl out of it, so I cast on with the other end…and quickly grew bored. So I set that yarn down. I still have not frogged either one of these yet.

WIPs that will eventually be turned into frogs.

So I started with the other cake. I basically started trying all sorts of knitting and crochet patterns to see which one would stick. This sort of “speed dating” went so badly that honestly…people looking for one-night stands on Tinder have had better luck. (Note: I have never used Tinder or any other kind of online dating service; I have this recurring concern that I’m gonna end up being catfished, because when it comes to love and relationships my luck is ridiculously bad.)

I was able to start a pattern a few days ago that has stuck so far…once the pattern is set up, it’s only a five row repeat that produces a surprisingly interesting texture and look combined with the self-striping. I did cut the yarn once so far, since it was kind of a jarring color switch from blue to the first gray in the colorway. Other than that, it’s looking pretty nice.

I’m about halfway through this cake; once I finish the first cake, I will probably unravel the other projects and join that yarn. Hopefully, if this sticks, this shawl will be a nice size when it’s done.

At least I have better luck with shawls than I’ve ever had with men. Shawls don’t ignore me or think I’m just “cute”.

Tips & Techniques: Notions Bags (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bag)

Let me start by saying this: I smacked my little toe into the coffee table this morning and drew blood.  I will spare you the pictures, but I bled all around the toenail.  Surprisingly, the toenail is still intact, but there is no telling whether it will fall off.  More than anything, it stings like a mother, even though the bleeding has stopped.  My dad laughed at me about it, but only because he’s had the same thing happen to him before.  Hopefully, my toe will heal up okay.

With that out of the way, I now come to the point of my post: Knitting & Crochet notions and how to store them.  I’m sure my fellow fiber artists have had to deal with this before.  I’m about to show you just one way to go about storing your tools (or “notions”) in a somewhat efficient way.  When I first started knitting, a family friend had sewn up a little bag from old blue jeans, and that served as my notions bag for quite a while.  However, I did have issues.  Mainly, I had stitch markers and the like falling all around the inside of the bag, and I had a hard time keeping track of them.  I eventually decided I needed a better solution.

It all started with a better bag.

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A zippered pouch that has no bottom seam, only side seams. The lack of a bottom seam makes objects put in it easier to grab.

This particular pouch is manufactured by tech gear, and as far as I know, it is available at local discount stores for less than $5 US.  The difference between a standard bag and a tech gear pouch is that tech gear sews their pouches up in such a way that anything you put in it will be easier to grab from the pouch.  There is no bottom seam.  Tech gear pouches can be used for all different sorts of things, even storing money if you’re working some sort of fundraising effort.  The inside also has a smooth, glossy finish that aids in removing any objects put in it.

Now, how do I keep the little objects from falling out?  It took a little ingenuity here, but I was eventually able to find a solution.  Here, repurposing is your friend.

Old or unused coin and makeup pouches make great containers to store smaller notions and tools that may otherwise get lost in your notions bag.  I normally don’t store coins in a coin pouch anyway, so it can be handy to hold on to those so you can have easier access to your stitch markers, yarn needles, and cable needles.  I use the regular rings (the plastic white ones) as standard stitch markers and end of round markers for projects knit in the round.  The split ring markers (the green ones that look like padlocks) are useful for marking the halfway point of a round when working with the Magic Loop method or marking either side of a central stitch when working a shawl; they’re useful for marking the side boundaries when I make handbags and totes in the round or marking certain stitch multiples (say, every 50th stitch) when I make a long foundation chain for a crochet project, and they’re even useful if you’re working an amigurumi crochet project (that is crocheted in a pure spiral with no chain to begin the next round) to give you an idea of where the next round begins.  They’re quite versatile.  Yarn needles are used to tidy up your project, and I find that the finer gauge ones are useful for the Russian Join method of joining yarn ends (where you fold the ends over themselves and interlock, and then you sew each end onto itself), where you must weave yarn ends in and out of themselves.  Cable needles help add texture to a project by permutating (changing the order in which stitches in a particular row and section are worked) stitches.  I have a set from Boye that are in three different gauges: the green one is for fine gauge yarn (great for sock weight and laceweight projects), the red one is for medium gauge yarn (sport weight, DK, and worsted/aran weight), and the blue one is for heavy gauge yarn (chunky, bulky, and super bulky).  The dip keeps the stitches in place while working the cable.

What other items are useful in a notions bag?

Spare crochet hooks are useful, even if you’re a pure knitter.  They can help you pick up dropped stitches, join two knitted fabrics together, make certain kinds of provisional cast ons, and make fantastic holders for row counters, especially if you primarily use circular needles and have no place to put a row counter on the needles.  I also keep a couple of sets of double-pointed needles and some circular needles.  Optional: a crochet hook case (I have previously made one, not pictured here, that rolls up like a knitting needle case and can easily fit in the pouch as well).

A knitting gauge (which has a set of rulers, a small window meant to help you see stitches and rows in a swatch, and a set of holes in various diameters) gives you a rigid surface to help determine gauge in a swatch for a project, can help you measure small lengths in a project, and will assist you in finding the correct diameter of a mysterious or unidentified knitting needle (especially a circular or double-point, which usually does not have a diameter stamped on it).  Tape measure is helpful for measuring a recipient (or yourself) for a garment, and can also keep you on track for the length of a scarf or shawl.  And those two cardboard circles?  Use a compass to trace and then cut them out; if you’re making anything needing a pompom, like a really cute winter hat, those two circles, a yarn needle, a pair of scissors, and spare yarn in your chosen color are all you need to make one.

And finally, you can’t finish a project without one of these.

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Scissors.  You will absolutely need scissors.  These are regular scissors, but sewing scissors will work, too.

And that is how I store my notions.

(BTW, did any of you catch the Dr. Strangelove reference in the title?  I have seen that movie at least twice, and it is still an incredible example of political satire.  I may end up continuing to use silly subtitles in these particular posts.)

If you have any suggestions on how you store your notions, feel free to share in the comments.