Friday, September 30, 2011

Yarn Accidents

My pseudo yarn diet came to a screeching halt yesterday after Eat.Sleep.Knit announced that they were having a special sale for 10k club members in hour of their five year anniversary. (If you haven't been to Eat.Sleep.Knit before, click on the button in my sidebar--it is my absolute favorite online yarn store.)

I had agreed to a yarn diet a few weeks ago with the idea that I would save up for ESK's annual Black Friday sale (an unrivaled event of yarny madness).

Of course that resolve crumbled like a box of graham crackers being stocked by a lazy, accident-prone teenager. I was honest about this, though, and despite being tempted to hide my indiscretion I texted Daniel to get clearance for breaking the rules.

He wrote back saying that I could get enough yarn for one project--a decent opening offer, however when I countered with a request for four skeins he failed to rise to the bargaining challenge and told me to only buy what I could afford. I imagine he heaved a beleaguered sigh at this point, but I can't be sure.

I set about choosing my yarn with care, focusing on procuring only those skeins which I had been coveting for some time. I scored a couple of skeins of some sock yarn I'd been eying for a few years and a new worsted that I have been wanting to try.

And then....well....I had an accident.

A skein of the squooshiest, most scrumptious, most lustrous yarn in a shade of blue that I frequently dream about fell in my basket.

Despite my efforts to remove it, it just kept hopping back in--so finally, I accepted that this yarn was simply destined to come stay with me and I placed the order. It should be hear early next week--I'll try to take pictures, though I might end up hiding the special skein, lest anyone recognize it and figure out just how much money I dropped on an impulse skein of yarn...

Monday, September 26, 2011

You can knit if you want to

Last night I decided that I would post about how I’m pining to order from a new (to me) yarn retailer. (Well…when I say decided, I mean that my fiancĂ© suggested I write about it, since he’s been subjected to my obsession for a few days now and I think he wants to share the wealth.)

However, when I sat down to write said post, I found myself distracted by something I read about a few days ago. I’d list the original source, but a) I can’t remember where I saw it and b) sadly this topic is ubiquitous enough that you’ve probably already encountered it. Therefore, I will let you draw from your own experience with this ongoing discussion, while I continue with abbreviated preamble.

Apparently some people think that being a knitter makes me a bad feminist. Now, I’m not going to kid myself—there are a lot of things about me that make me a “bad” feminist in other people’s eyes. I like to wear dresses, I cook, I played with doll’s as a kid, I hope to be able to stay home with my children when they’re small, and from time to time I’m not averse to watching a sappy romantic comedy or a period film. The list of “feminine” clichĂ©s could go on, but I don’t think either you or I would find it very interesting.

As you can tell from my use of scare quotes, I don’t agree with either of the aforementioned designations. In my opinion, “bad” is subjective and “feminine” is a cultural construct. For the sake of avoiding too much unnecessary chatter, I’m going to focus on the latter. Femininity is not a universal concept—or rather, our Western conception of femininity is not shared wholesale around the world. Some of the most fascinating articles I read during my time as an anthropology student focused on cultures that had conceptions of gender that varied from our own—one of my favorite of which concerned a tribe where women were seen as the tough, valuable workers while men adorned themselves in jewelry and fancy robes to attract wives. (At some point, I should dig through my books and find this specific reference.)

The assumption that being a woman means (or worse should mean) any one thing is ill conceived at best and offensive at worst—which is why I find it so frustrating that some people have decided that feminism must entail the eschewing of all “feminine” trappings. Feminism is about fighting for equality between the genders, not homogeneity, yet so often it seems that people equate feminism with women attempting to be men—or at least trying to distance themselves from the image of “woman”. Yes, I believe that women should be allowed (and encouraged) to take on traditionally “male” roles, if that is what they so desire—but I don’t think they should be forced into being less “feminine” if they don’t want to be. To me that smacks of agreeing that being male is somehow better than being female—and doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

The most recent article I read about this was written by a knitter who had been told by another woman that she was a bad feminist for engaging in craftwork. At the end of the article, the knitter said that she didn’t care if she was a bad feminist, she was going to knit because she liked it. I am going to take it a step further: I am a good feminist because I knit. I refuse to be pigeonholed. I’m not going to cook, clean, wear a dress, or knit because someone tells me that I should because it will make me a better woman—but I’m also not going to give up these just because someone says that doing so will make me a better feminist.

For me, feminism is about supporting women in the pursuit of their own happiness. Women shouldn’t be limited by anyone else’s expectations; women should be free to define themselves.

At this point, I could also bring up the long history of male knitters, but that feels tangential (if not contradictory) to my point.* So instead, I will stop preaching to the choir, and go drool over some more yarn.

*However, I’ll probably do another post on it later in the year, because I think it is really cool!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Part Deux

As promised (I know you've all been eagerly awaiting it, after all), here is the second half of my Takumi Clover Interchangeable Bamboo Needles set review. (Word order may vary.):

Yup. They're amazing alright.

The Join:

I really like the join. It comes together easily, and stays together for the most part. I tried the Knit Picks Sampler interchangeable kit a few months ago, but found that I frequently had to tighten the joins while I worked. It was especially frustrating while working with lace, as my yarn would decide it was in love with the gap created between tip and cable and, like head strong teenagers sure that this was the end all and be all of life, it would take way too much frustration and cursing to untangle needle from the yarn. So far, I have only had this issue arise a smattering of times—and only on the needle in my right hand. I’ve found that checking the join every few rows eliminates this problem entirely.

Also, the join is tapered nicely—I’ve had no trouble transferring my yarn from cable to needle, even when I’ve been using the magic loop method. (Magic loop plays havoc with my gauge; I tend to tighten like crazy to prevent ladders, and have had a lot of trouble inching the working stitches up joins in the past. Expect an exasperated post about it at some point.)

The Needle Tips:

Initially, I was very underwhelmed by the tips. As a long time clover enthusiast, I figured I couldn’t go wrong buying their set. I’d read a few reviews that talked about the tips being a little coarse—one even mentioned having to sand and refinish them—but I dismissed that given that most of the negative reviewers also mentioned not being big fans of clover needles in general. For various reasons (namely my own unflappable ability to set my expectations ridiculously high as well as a few product descriptions that described “silky” finishes and “finer grains”), I thought the needles would fall somewhere on the spectrum between the regular Takumi needles and the Velvet Takumis. In the interest of full disclosure…I also forgot which set was the nicer of the two types; I mistakenly thought that Clover was the designation for the nicer needle finishes, not Velvet.

As you can guess, my dismay upon opening the case was palpable, but not unrelenting. The needles are a little bit coarser than the regular Clovers—which stinks if you’re expecting Velvets, but isn’t so bad ridiculous expectations aside. So far I’ve worked with superwash merino in a variety of gauges (even lace) and have had absolutely no problem. The needles also smooth out after a few hours knitting, so I recommend breaking them in on something like cotton if you are really worried about them snagging more delicate yarns.


Overall, I’m happy that I bought the set. It’s not as fantastic as I hoped it would be, but for a hundred bucks I feel like it was a good deal. These needles will last me for at least a few years, and it will ultimately be cheaper than buying individual needles. If you are interested in getting a set of your own, I highly recommend purchasing them from either Amazon or Nancy’s Notions, as both shops provide a sizeable discount—and frankly, given the finish on the needles, I don’t think they are worth the full price.

Whew…that was a whopper of a review—I promise future attempts will be a bit more streamlined. (And hopefully quite a bit funnier. I found as I wrote the review, most of my jokes tended to be based in innuendos and inappropriate puns, so I figured I would spare you. All two of you.)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Interchangeable days

First off, let me apologize for such a long absence. We celebrated my fiance’s birthday this weekend in what can only be described as a bonanza of family activities—several of which I spent last week planning. My mastery of automated reservation services aside, it meant that I didn’t have a great deal of time to devote to personal projects. A flimsy excuse, perhaps, but sometimes weeks are just like that.

Now, sitting here in my tidier, more festive apartment, I find that I finally have time to get around to a blog post that has been percolating in the back of my head for a few weeks. In a show of very uncharacteristic foresight, I managed to snap pictures for this post more than a week ago. (Of course, I assumed that these pictures would be utilized the next day.) Without further ado, then, I present:

The First EVER Twitchknits Review!

*Disclaimer*: This review represents my own personal opinions. I am in no way affiliated with the company that produces this product, nor have I contacted them about creating this review. As a consumer, I know that I appreciate being able to read my peers’ reviews of the products they use; I’m simply trying to contribute to my community.

Please remember that just as every knitter’s gauge is personal, every knitter’s experiences and opinions are subjective as well. This review reflects only my opinion; your experience with this product may vary.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.

After a period of intense rumination and internet scouring, I finally purchased a set of interchangeable needles. I had been searching for a set that met my criteria (bamboo, 16’’ cords included, good value) with the intention of saving over the fall—when I saw these on Amazon, I pounced, much to the chagrin of my savings plan.

^ That's my excited face, apparently. Not to be confused with my "somebody let me have too much sugar" or "nope I'm not crazy from lack of sleep" faces.

I find it easier to organize my thoughts if I provide myself some sort of structure, so I’m going to write this in order of what I noticed about the set, and then give an overall impression. Please feel free to skip to the end at any time, as I may start a’ramblin’!


The case is no more than I expected it to be—unlike some of the fancier sets the Takumi Clover set comes in a very basic, black vinyl case. It smelled a little of plastic at first, but now that it’s aired out for a week or two, the fumes have dissipated. The layout of the case is intuitive—well organized, with snug bands for the needles and a deep pocket for the cables. Because the bands are snug, I’m a little concerned about scratching the bamboo tips as I remove them from the case; however this may just be regular Twitch paranoia.


Admittedly, the cables (along with the price point) are what sold me on this set. I’m a creature of habit, and 16” cables are my weapon of choice—they’re essential for hats and are great for scarves. I was so disappointed to find that most interchangeable sets don’t include them. (After reading a few interesting google responses, I think that this has to do with the length of most interchangeable needle tips; they are usually too long to be used for shorter circulars.)

The cables are easily my favorite part of the set. They come in their own separate pouch, complete with a diagram for telling the needles apart based on which pocket they’re in.

They are flexible, but don’t fall completely slack. In the past, I’ve had trouble with the regular clover circulars bending back on themselves and or remaining crimped in a certain position after storage. So far neither of these issues has arisen with my interchangeable—it’s fantastic. The only negative thing I can say is that the cables squeak and creak sometimes as I’m using them. However this is extremely faint.

Alright, as I'm being my usual verbose self, I've decided to leave this blog as *bumBUMbum*

To Be Continued...

Return tomorrow for an action packed* review of the sets joins and needle tips, as well as my overall recommendation!

I know, it's exciting right?! I'm totally not doing this as an easy way to get two blog posts this week...I would never do that....this is all about streamlining the content.....yeah......

*Much like recent action movies, the action-packed-ness of tomorrow's blog post may be grossly exaggerated.