Adventures in Grafting

I often see knitters who have a general disdain for grafting, or Kitchner stitch. I don’t know why. I love how it makes it easier to make things in the shape you want. Take these dishcloths, for example

I tried three times to get them square by working them corner to corner, but the knit corners were always rounded and the final corner always ended up way too long. Finally I just decided to work two halves at a time, making two triangles that I then grafted together. Perfect squares every time.

Here I’m going to take a little bunny trail to give you the basic formula:

Basic Diagonal Dischloth

Materials

  • 100% cotton yarn (I use Peaches and Cream from Michaels because it is readily available and feels nice on my fingers)
  • Size 7 or 8 knitting needles (preferably circular, but you can use whatever you can find)
  • Yarn needle

Instructions

  1. Cast on two sets of three stitches (either working from different ends of the same ball of yarn or two different balls). From now on, instructions are written once to be done on each set of stitches.
  2. Knit row
  3. Knit one, make one, knit one, make one, knit one
  4. Knit row
  5. (RS)Knit two, yarn over, knit to last two stitches, yarn over, knit two
  6. (WS)Knit two, purl to last two stitches, knit two
  7. Repeat last two rows until sides measure as long as you want them. I use my hand and make the sides reach from my wrist to the end of my middle finger. You can decide how long you want yours to be. End on RS row. Graft together with WS facing in. This is where having them on circular needles will help, but you can always transfer one side to the empty needle if using straight needles.

    This next one takes the grafting to the next level, though. I started on each point and made diamonds. Or at least aimed to make diamonds. I ran out of the self-striping yarn, so I continued on from that point as if I were making a regular two-sided square. Then I connected those two pieces, and grafted the outside pieces to the straight edges.

    I’m really liking the options making things in pieces gives me. I’ve always tried to make everything in as few pieces as possible, but perhaps having a little more flexibility makes the extra work in putting it all together at the end worth it.

Go Get Your Cake

Alexz Johnson’s new album, Let ‘Em Eat Cake, is out now, and it is amazing. Today is the official release date, but I’ve had it on my iPod for a week thanks to the wonders of PledgeMusic exclusives. You can also hear the whole album (not in order) in this youtube playlist:

Overall Impression:

This album flows really nicely, both in order and on shuffle. There is a nice cohesion to the sounds, styles, and overall production of every song in the album. I feel a jazz/blues style vibe under the alt-rock stylings. Or perhaps it is an alt-rock vibe under the jazz/blues stylings. Sometimes I’m not so good at the categorization of music.

The other thing I like about this album is that it feels like it picks up at the end of the Heart EP, which feels like it picks up at the and of Skipping Stone, which feels like ti picks up…well, you get the picture by now. It’s not that it sounds like her other albums, more like it sounds like there is a progression through her music. Like you can hear her growth as an artist through each subsequent collection of songs. I always like that as opposed to some groups/artists who go from one thing to something completely different in a jarring kind of jump. Perhaps I just like the process of it all.

Track Breakdown:

  1. Heart Like That
  2. I love the stripped-down, yet layered, production of the opening track. Perfect way to kick this all off.
    Favorite line:Sad to see you go / But not for long though

  3. Let ‘Em Eat Cake
  4. The title track makes me think of perhaps a cross between CCR and Fleetwood Mac. I may be way off on that one, though. Either way, love the driving kick-drum beat.
    Favorite Line:Leave it be, I’m not yours and you don’t belong to me

  5. Cologne
    This one has a great pleading sound in the guitar that mimics the pleading in the lyrics. Gives it a nice, haunting quality.
    Favorite Line: I do regret / I knew it all along / Can I get a bit of your cologne?

  6. Gonna Get It
    This one is a re-produced version of a song from 2010’s Voodoo and it is one of my favorite songs off that album. Ok, it’s hard for me to actually pick favorites off that album because I love them all, but still. I love this version just as much as the one I’ve been singing along to for the past four years.
    Favorite Line: Oh no won’t let it go / Give it up won’t take my soul

  7. That Pain
  8. A nice follow-up to Gonna Get It, this one centers the energy again (if that makes sense). Kind of like Gonna Get It is how you feel in the middle of a situation and this song is the aftermath when you realize everything is going to fall into place.
    Favorite Line: My heart / Knows me better than I know myself / Washing words clean from my mouth

  9. Heart Turns Black
  10. The slow build up at the beginning to the mini-explosion of the first chorus and then the addition of more layers in the second verse lends a bit of a frenetic feel to this song. Which goes great both with the lyrics and the placement of this song in the album order.
    Favorite Line: I choose to run / But the lines all fade / I’ve become someone / I can’t even face

  11. Tears of a Dragon
  12. This is most definitely the comeback song after Heart Turns Black. The far-away sound makes me think of a movie scene where the character is sinking into the ocean and then their eyes open, kind of right before they realize they need to fight to survive. It could also have to do with the “rise of the ocean” line in there, too.
    Favorite Line: It’s hard to see it even right before my eyes / I can’t explain with the sun setting in the sky

  13. Ruthless Love
  14. It’s like a ballad for those relationships that are doomed from the beginning but just can’t be helped. Love the drums on this one. Adds to that “ruthless” feeling.
    Favorite Line: But like the spin of the world / Butterflies you can’t ignore / We never see the oceans end

  15. I Will Fall In Love
  16. The resolution of the album, hope is restored and the music is appropriately hopeful. The “phoenix rising from the ashes” song. It’s a great mix of hopefulness and a bit of apprehension.
    Favorite Line: Chains are falling off / I am letting go / Instead of holding on / I will fall in love

This album was well worth the wait. It was very well written and produced. A lot of artists these days seem to try to get more music out there as quickly as possible, but true artistry sometimes takes time. Not so say every band that puts out an album a year is bad or careless about their music, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to hear the time and effort that has gone into a project like this.

I Love Yarn Day

Though it might be every day for me, tomorrow is apparently “I Love Yarn Day”. According to the Craft Yarn Council, this day happens on the second Friday of October. They even have a website where you can find local celebrations. Most of these seem to come in the form of a flash mob. I have no idea what a yarn flash mob would be, but it does sound interesting.

They also suggest ways to celebrate on your own, such as knitting/crocheting in public, wearing something knit, gifting yarn, making things for charity, etc. Basically, do something yarny. And pretend that was a real word.

I will probably celebrate by looking at my current project

IMG_0961.JPG

as I walk past when getting up in the morning because I am spending my weekend up to my elbows in small children. But maybe I will get into the spirit by wearing a headband or barrette. Because, you know, it’s still 90° here like it’s not the second Friday of October.

BoxTrolls!

Though it came out last week, I finally saw the newest movie from Laika (the production company that made “ParaNorman” and “Coraline”), The Boxtrolls, on Sunday. I’ve always loved stop-motion animation. I try to see all the works by houses like Laika and Aardman (“Walace and Gromit”, “Chicken Run”, “Shawn the Sheep”, etc.). It’s a refreshing change from the world of CGI. Not that I don’t like CGI, but traditional forms of animation are most certainly still relevant.

Anyway, this particular movie was amazing, though not completely what I expected. I had thought it would be more of a comedy, and it was certainly funny, but it was exceptionally sad in places. Depressing almost.

Now, don’t let that turn you off of the movie, because it was a perfect mix of the two sides. Like, there would be something sad or scary or depressing, and then there would be something funny right after. They struck the perfect mix of dark and fun.

The movie is an adaptation of the story “Here Be Monsters.” It’s a story about underground creatures, the Boxtrolls, who have created a society by picking from the trash of the upper world. But some in the upper world think they are menaces and are hunting them down, trying to eradicate them. There is danger, and silliness, and an all-around good story.

Most of what we saw in the first trailers for this film was the behind the scenes. Holly Klein posted a really good behind the scenes video on her “Unfurled” blog (since her husband worked on the movie and is featured heavily in the featurette). It’s really interesting to see how much time and effort goes into it all. Also, there is a break between the animated credits and the full credits where you get another peek into the making of, so be sure not to leave until you’ve seen that.

The movie theater we went to was only showing it three times a day, but if you do get the chance to see it I strongly encourage you to do so. You will most definitely fall in love with these little trolls.

Friday Fun: Mexican Wrestler Cover Video

I was bored yesterday with about an hour or so to waste before having to pick the baby up at preschool, so I filmed another quick cover video. This time it is “Mexican Wrestler” originally performed by Emma Roberts for the soundtrack to Unfabulous. It just so happened that I was also wearing a shirt from the clothing line inspired by the show. Enjoy:

Crayon Holder!

You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to make one of these things. It’s just never seemed very practical seeing as most packs of crayons have at least 16 and that is a lot of little slots and a long roll to lug around. But these are dry erase crayons that only come in eight colors, making it actually practical and necessary.

I even included space for the cleaning cloth and the crayon sharpener. Much neater than the plastic bag everything was just thrown in before. Plus, I labeled it so it won’t get confused with all the non-existent crayon holders.

(Sorry for the blurriness. I could’ve sworn that was in focus when I took the picture.)

I used some of the leftover fabric from the bicycle I refurbished a few weeks ago, some elastic, and some buttons I had taken off a pair of shorts that had to be retired to the trash can when they ripped to pieces. The words are just written in my trusty chalkboard markers, with a few layers to make it actually stand out.

Impromptu, Uneccessary Gloves

I picked up a lovely (now discontinued) skein of Chroma in Buttermint with my last Knitpicks order and was looking for something to make. Then I found these puff stitch gloves.

They call for an 8-ply yarn, but Chroma just so happened to be a 4-ply yarn. For the math-challenged, that means I could hold the yarn doubled to make it exactly the right weight. The pattern also includes the puff-stitch, which was a new-to-me stitch, so it made it a learning opportunity as well.

The Chroma yarn is really soft and fluffy, which made it nice to work with. It also bloomed nicely when I blocked it so the gloves themselves are extra soft.

They are really comfy, except not exactly wearable. Don’t get me wrong, I will probably be wearing them all fall long. But it is nowhere near fall temperatures here. That’s right, I just made a pair of fuzzy, wool gloves right before an over-100° heat wave. It’s so hot they had baseball practice with water balloons on Saturday and cancelled soccer practice today to keep the kids from melting in the park. So these will stay in my drawer for a bit longer before they actually get used.

You can find slightly more technical details on these on their Ravelry project page.