Category Archives: Amusing Miscellany

Mrs Mausi’s Guide to Knitting Chapter 6: The Gauge Swatch…

Hello there! Yes, there’s more blathering about the perils of tip-toeing down the perfidous path of knitting! You poor darlings!…

Bunbun the Kitty insisted on helping me with my illustration. Stealing the pen and lying on the paper is not super helpful, Bunbun.

Chapter 6: The Gauge Swatch.

So now you’ve been knitting for a little while, and you’re feeling confident! You can cast on like a pro, you have stopped dropping stitches and your garter stitch is nice and even. So’s your stockingette. You can purl with the best of them.  Your pot holders and scarves are wonders of knitting to behold. And you no longer have the new-knitter tight-clutch anymore. Not you! And you’ve become so confident with your knitting prowess that you look at helpful instructions about gauge swatches and are all, “Hah! I don’t need to do that! That’s for the noobs! Not me! My gauge is clearly 4 stitches to the inch on size 8 needles with worsted! Perfect!”

Oh, you poor doomed soul…

1:  Start a fun sweater pattern with unfamiliar yarn you just brought home. Look at the gauge measurements and go, “Eh. That’s pretty much what I knit anyway. I don’t need to eat up time making a gauge swatch I don’t need.”

2: Snuggle the yarn. It such pretty yarn. It cries out to be a sweater! *your* sweater! Right now! Right this second!!

3: Cast on with wild abandon and start some ribbing. Stop two rows in and think, “Huh, these stitches are a little stretchy. But it’s ribbing, it should be fine. I think I need a glass of wine!”

4: Pour yourself half a bottle of wine and put on The Craft. Knit happily for several hours. Notice the yarn is sliding a bit loosely, but merrily knit on. Marvel on how the wine keeps your fingers nice and loose while you knit.

5: Finish off the wine and yell happily at the movie. Cheer on the magical catfight at the end. Then look down at the cosy knitting on your lap and realise it’s HUUUUUUGE…

6: Curse at your wine-sozzled fingers. Curse at the movie you were enjoying so much 5 seconds ago. Curse at the pretty, pretty yarn and the pretty, pretty circus tent you’ve been making all this time. Curse at the ghost of Elizabeth Zimmerman, who so sweetly kept reminding you to do that gauge swatch before you got all crazy with that yarn. Curse curse curse!

7: Should you rip it out? Should you rip it out? Should you? You should, you know. Frog that bastard and start over. All the way over. Correctly.  Like the knitting badass you know you are. You can do it. Even though it’s hours out of your life. And that sweet magical catfight you watched. It’s there, right where the stitches got extra loose. You were laughing so hard, and that was the last glass of wine, too. Man, that was good stuff…

8: Keep knitting anyway. Decide instead of a shapely pullover it’s going to be a tunic. Keep hearing the psycho mom from Carrie chanting, “They’re all going to laugh at you…they’re all going to laugh at you…” Stubbornly plug on. Of course, now your gauge is too tight because you’re wound up. Try not to get too tight on the neck ribbing. Mutter evil things to yourself…

9: After much cursing, another couple of nights with wine and more horribly funny schlocky movies, you’re done! With your circus tent! That has bits that seem too tight!! Hear the sweet voice of Elizabeth Zimmerman in your head, reassuring you that blocking can fix a lot of things. Hope to hell she’s right, or you’re going to go find her grave and yell at it for a while. She’d understand. She was that kind of lady.

10: The tunic, after blocking, is…really not that bad, actually. Friends compliment it, and really appreciate that off-the-shoulder look you’ve got going there. Smile graciously. Smile nervously. Promise the ghost of Elizabeth Zimmerman a nice bottle of wine if she won’t tell the other knitters the truth.  And for each and every new project, a gauge swatch shall be knit. Pinky swear…

My illustration of my sweater woes. It’s shaky because of the aforementioned cat-problems. Please don’t mind the extra cat hair. Bunbun helps the only ways he knows how.

 

Mrs Mausi’s Guide to Knitting, Chapter 13: Lacework.

Eventually there will be some extremely jacked-up illustrations for these little knitting chapters. When I get to it. Which might take a little bit. So you’ll have to imagine the kind of horrible things I could draw for these pages. If you think of something particularly good, feel free to tell me about it…

alchemy yarns
Alchemy Yarns: The yarn of your wildest dreams and worst nightmares…

Mrs Mausi’s Guide to Knitting, #13: lacework…

1: Buy delicate, expensive mohair yarn. Snuggle it. Dream of the wonderful shawl you’re going to make.

2: Look at patterns. Beautiful, eyesearing patterns you’d be completely insane to try. Even just reading the patterns makes your brain cells cringe. Pick out an easy lace pattern you can’t screw up too badly. Promise yourself you’ll tart it up with beads and a cool border later on.

3: Snuggle the yarn some more. Awwwwyeahhhhh…

4: Start your shawl. It’s gorgeous! Light, airy, shows off your snuggly yarn perfectly! And it’s knitting up quickly!! Beam with pride. And putting in an emergency saving strand, in case you mess something up? Nah. No way can you mess up something this simple. You’re a better knitter than *that.*

5: Bring your project to work,can let your coworkers coo over it and pet it. Then realize you missed a yarn over…3 rows down.

6: Swear. Swear like a biker. Swear like a biker with an itchy rash. Because it’s mohair, which resists all attempts to fix anything. Swear like a biker who has to unknit 3and a half rows of freakin’ mohair. Think about leaving the mistake and crocheting a goddamn flower over it or something. Nobody would know. But you would. You would know. Forever…

7: Undo 3 and a half rows of lacework, muttering nastily to yourself. Hope like hell you don’t drop a stitch or jack up the other yarnovers too badly. When a helpful friend recommends frogging it instead,laugh the laugh of the knitting damned.

8: One hour later, finally get to your mistake and fix it. Feel the rush of beautiful, flawless stitches. Snuggle your yarn some more–its your friend again!! Ignore the coworker who says, “can’t you just buy that at a store?” No, my dear. You cannot buy this kind of yarny satisfaction.

*You will be repeating steps 6-8 at least three more times, possibly more. I recommend inventing new swears for each flaw, to keep things fresh.

Mrs Mausi’s Guide to Knitting: (With yarn. and swearing. And possibly booze.)

As a lark recently, and to vent about a knitting project I was struggling with, I put up a little chapter in an imaginary book about knitting. It turned out to be a big, big hit, so I suspect I might actually have to *make* this book in the very near future. I should warn you; when you see chapters, they will be out of sequence. Because most knitters tend to jump around in handy guides to knitting, forward and back, to find that one helpful thing they need that now they absolutely cannot find. If you’re a knitter, you’ll definitely understand…

Mrs Mausi’s Guide to Knitting, Chapter 5: Hats…

Pick out several pretty yarns for your project, realise none of them go together. Swear under your breath.

Knit the band slightly too tightly, with nice bamboo needles. Curse a little, undo the stitches, start over. Repeat at least twice.

Question your choice of yarn. Question your choice of needles. Question your skills as a knitter. Switch over to slidey aluminum needles

Just as you’re getting into the zone, watch your stitches slide off your slidey needles. Swear like a sailor. Swear like an annoyed sailor. Swear like an annoyed sailor who picked the wrong bloody needles. Rearrange the whole yarny mess in your lap so it doesn’t slither away. Refuse to change needles, because you can make this work, right? Right? Right!?

Finally get to the decreases on the top. Feel like you’ve climbed Mount Everest with nothing but a salad fork. Hope like hell it won’t ladder much. Punch the air in victory…And remember you still have to embroider stuff on it. Arrrgh…

…The hat? Turned out great, actually. Never let anybody tell you that you can’t get anything done while swearing, because it just isn’t so…

Pink and gray hat, inward swearing.
See the expression on my face? You can see the inward cussing, even after it turned out pretty nicely, actually…

Brains? Brains!! Braiiiiiins!!!

It’s been a hectic month, with not much posting from Yours Truly. I have a pretty good excuse, though–I got married! And so far, married life is pretty wonderful, with loads of great surprises. And more than a little paperwork. Eh, whaddaya do?

Anyway, I thought it might be nice to get some normal Maus stuff back on track, and dyed up some roving this morning. A coworker had given me her late mother’s fiber stash, along with several very nice balls of white milled wool. They looked like they would take dye very well, so I mixed up some black and red Jaquard dyes for a nice blended black-cherry sort of thing…

Black Cherry Roving
The roving turned out really nice, good and saturated!

While I was adding the red dyes, the pot looked rather…ominous…

Gory wool
What’s in that pot, Maus? What is it? Wool, you say? You sure? It looks…not good…

Sure enough, the minute I put up the photo on my facebook page, all my friends started weighing in with, “That looks…gory!” “It looks like brains!” “Entrails!” “Don’t lie to us, Ms Maus, you put brains in there, didn’t you?” “Brains!!”

So, for the record, I did not stick brains, entrails, or any other unnatural substance in with my lovely, gory looking wool. Because then it would be terribly sticky and hard to clean. Also hard to spin and knit. Gore is nobody’s friend in the fiber arts, my darlings.  Though what goes into my gumbo recipes? Wellllll…

 

 

Knitting in the workplace…

See this pretty thing?

Danse macabre
The darkest dark, the reddest red, the sparkliest sparkly!!

It started it’s dark and sparkly life in a basement of a museum, surrounded by coffee and polyester sweaters and noise.  Lots and lots of noise…

Breaktime Knitting
Not pictured: a handheld radio, a cup of tea, gurgling pipes overhead and my frowny little face as I try to concentrate…

I usually bring knitting to my job, to help me unwind between breaks and to sneak a little time into my various projects. More often than not it’s something I spun up myself that demands to be made into something right this minute. Yarn can be pushy like that. So very pushy. This yarn was a dark black, red and white spiral-ply I spun up from one of the beautiful batts at Butterflygirl Designs on Etsy. I’ve bought from her for years, and her goods are always so good. One of the nice things about handspun yarn is that you can keep your stitches pretty simple and let the yarn do all the work of being pretty…

Workplace knitting has it’s own challenges. It’s noisier than home, of course. There’s lots of traffic, and the possibility of spills, crumbs, overcurious coworkers poking at your project, moving it or distracting you enough to drop a stitch or two. I’ve lost count of the times on a break where I answer a workplace question while my hands are moving, and when I look down…I messed up that yarn over. Again. Drat it all. And I mutter quietly to myself when I think nobody can hear me. (But of course my coworkers can totally hear me. I can tell by the snickering)

Then there are the usual jokes.  Requests to knit whole sweaters for 20 bucks, or nothing. Various eyerolls, “only grandmas knit” or “knitting nerd” comments. The occasional vampire-slayer remarks. (I actually like these remarks because I get to brandish a knitting needle in a mildly threatening fashion.) But sometimes there are the people who sidle over and gently pet the yarn, or ask if I have time to crank out some wristwarmers for them, or can I make a goofy gutmonster for a birthday or something. I love these people.They get extra guts in their knitted gutmonsters.

Mostly I just like the peace. After I get into the groove a little bit, I can float right off into a nice soft realm of stitches and fluffy textures and away from the workaday life for a little while. I feel a little more rested on a break where I’m working on something. And when I’m finished, I just glow with a little well-earned pride. A moment in a gloomy basement redolent with the smell of burned coffee and old pizza can be the brightest part of my day when I bind off that last stitch…