Friday, October 29, 2010

Knit-Knacks: Yarn Ball Winder

Being a knitter I often find myself surrounded by a mountain of unsorted and un-stored yarn!  And I've recently taken it upon myself to remedy this AVALANCHE-OF-EPIC-PROPORTIONS problem before I'm buried alive and someone has to use a trained dog to ferret me out.  *random side note* Just look at my puppy!
Sorry I couldn't resist! :D

Anyways, I've found that I absolutely hate yarn the way it comes...whether that be in hanks, shanks, skeins, or queens (obviously going for a rhyme...and failing).  And then it donned on me...I should get one of the local yarn marts to wind my yarn for me.  Unfortunately for me, even though I offered to pay them, they would not wind yarn that was not purchased from their stores.  And I respect their decision to have such a policy, but it totally screws me!  

After a few days of sulking in my tangled yarn existence, I decided to get out of my wool prison and just buy a yarn ball winder of my very own.  That way, I could ball the yarn I buy online myself, and also the yarn I buy from my local suppliers (since I normally have to make a quick run during my lunch...I often don't have time to wait for them to ball it for me).  

So after perusing eBay for an hour or so, I finally purchased my very own yarn ball winder!
And it's RED too! My favorite color!

Needless to say, after I received this bad boy in the mail, I've been getting ballsy!  After balling all of my yarn at home, I even took it to work and balled almost our entire yarn stash for our Craft Cafe program.  I think I might have a problem...especially since now I just really want to buy yarn to ball it...not because I need it :D.  

I'm glad I bought it; however, I think that it is just going to exacerbate my yarn addiction to epic proportions.  So now instead of being buried alive by a messy, tangled mountain of yarn...I will be buried by a neat, color-coded mountain of precariously stacked yarn balls.  Ah! Progress!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fantastic Fibers: Yarn Fiasco!

I plan on using this section of my blog to highlight recent yarn purchases I've made for various patterns, or yarns that I just happen upon during my travels. And what better way to christen this section than by spinning a yarn of my own. And this tale, boys and girls, is truly terrifying. So buckle your seat belts, secure any loose objects, and keep your tray table in the up and locked position during the duration of the story. Thank you, and we hope you enjoy you stay on Knitting...With Balls! We know you have options when choosing who to follow, and we thank you for selecting us. And without further to to, it's time to get ballsy!

Before I begin I feel that it is imperative that I remind my readers that I, Jonathan, am a sweater-holic. I've struggled with this addiction for years, but I really don't see a need in fixing it...because no one can have too many sweaters, right?!? RIGHT!!? Anyways, I recently found a pattern that I'm obsessed with from a website I featured in my Featured Finds section awhile back: Boy Meets Purl. The sweater in question is a *seemingly* simple single cable sweater.

Beautiful, right? So needless to say when I saw this sweater I just HAD TO MAKE IT!! It spoke to me, and it said, "fjeiooklk dknihkfll;; jojanfjfiojt!! jiojtklcmkfie!!" Well, how am I suppose to know what it said? I don't speak fluent yarn, but I'm taking lessons. There was just one teeny...tiny...well, HUGE problem that this sweater has and that HUGE, GIGANTIC, IMPOSSIBLY GARGANTUAN problems is that the yarn used to make the sweater was discontinued years ago!!

What was a sweater-holic to do? Well, I'll tell you what this sweater-holic did...nothing. For awhile. I just thought that perhaps the magical yarn fairy really did exist and if I wished hard enough...she would leave the six balls of yarn I needed underneath my pillow (for a small fee of course...she doesn't do it out of the kindness of her heart. She has bills to pay too, you know.) But, alas, the yarn fairy ignored my desperate cries for fiber and I had to take matters into my own hands.

Flash forward a few months. I was visiting my brother, who is attending graduate school in Missouri, and after our brief visit, I was just dropping off a bicycle for him, I decided to make a detour and visit their local yarn store, who's owner stayed open especially for me to come and peruse her wears; however, she shall hence forth be referred to as SHE-WHO-SHALL-NOT-BE-NAMED (for the obvious connotations).

Well, SHE-WHO-SHALL-NOT-BE-NAMED was extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and carried A TON of fiber brands I had never seen, nor heard of. All of which made me feel all warm and cozy on the inside. And when you feel all snuggly in a yarn store, you know you are going to spend some money :). This was no exception. After showing SHE-WHO-SHALL-NOT-BE-NAMED the pattern for the sweater above I asked SHE-WHO-SHALL-NOT-BE-NAMED if there was any yarn in the store that met my gauge requirement. As I've stated in an older post, I've never made a garment before and the concept of gauges is a language to which I'm just beginning to understand. But SHE-WHO-SHALL-NOT-BE-NAMED had examples of her knitting all around the store: a sweater here, a shawl there. All of which inspired great faith in her ability to follow a pattern's gauge, etc.  Needless to say she suggested a fiber, and a quite expensive one at that, for the sweater.  And like anything expensive, I seemed to gravitate towards the fiber she selected.  I also need to mention that she said it would work up in the proper gauge as well.  So I bought the yarn...and it is BEAUTIFUL...just look

However, on the way home I decided I just couldn't wait to start working on my sweater, so I did a gauge sample of the yarn, and wouldn't you know it...IT IS THE WRONG GAUGE!  Not only is it the wrong gauge, but to make the sweater I want I would have to buy DOUBLE the amount of yarn that I purchased!  And since I had already spent almost 100 dollars on the first round of yarn I decided to try and ferret out the discontinued yarn that was used in the original pattern.  

This brings us to yarn fiasco number two!  Yes, boys and girls, there is a part two!

After searching through numerous website haystacks, I finally found the needles!  I ended up having to order the yarn from two separate companies: one was in the UK and the other was in Ireland.  Well, when the yarn came in from Ireland I thought everything was perfectly fine, that is, until the UK order arrived.  I ORDERED TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THE SAME YARN!!  The Ireland order was for MEGA chunky and the UK (the correct order) was for chunky.  So I had to find another supplier of the DISCONTINUED yarn (both places sent me all they had)!!  Luckily for me the Canadians seem to be yarn hoarders to a degree that they might need to seek professional from the A&E show, Hoarders!  And I just received the final order I will ever place for Sirdar Denim Chunky 503 yarn!

And now it is time for a celebratory dance, and for this occasion I've decided on.....

P.S. Apologies for the tome worthy post!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Slip Stitches: Book Review - The Hunger Games Trilogy

The Hunger GamesCatching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)

For those of you who happen to be living underneath a very large and cold rock, these three books are currently all the rage in Young Adult fiction.  But do they deserve all of the hype and acclaim?  In my humble, yet entirely infallible opinion, HELL YES THEY DO! 

These three works take place in a dystopian world where twelve districts, each focusing on a particular trade or skill, are under the tight control of The Capital.  This government imposed occupation of each district stems from the uprising of the thirteen districts against The Capital years ago, and as punishment for their actions, district thirteen was completely annihilated and the remaining twelve districts are each forced to send two tributes (children) into the Hunger Games.  These children are then forced to battle one another to the death for the amusement of the Capital.

All these works follow Katniss Everdeen as she navigates her way through life, trying to stay alive and provide for her family, and as she is thrown into the horrific Hunger Games.  I won't give away anymore because if you haven't read them yet...READ THEM!!!

I love these books so much that I dedicated my Halloween pumpkin to them...BEHOLD!!

Yep! I carved all the book covers onto ONE pumpkin AND made all of the stencils myself!  Eat your heart out Martha Stewart!!

On a Halloween related note, does anyone have any ideas for who I could be for my Halloween school visits?  I was thinking either Clifford the Big Red Dog, or Cookie Monster.  Ideas? Thoughts?