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I Knit Around

Monday, March 06, 2006

Answers for my Booty Pal - Whoever they may be!

Oh, cool - I've been notified who my Booty Pal is! (The person I'm gifting to, that is.) This is going to be fun...

I'm trying to make sure there's good information for my Pal (the one who's gifting to me) here, whoever they might be. That was the inspiration behind Friday's lengthy tome, 105 things about Folkcat. I decided that some additional specifics might be in order, though. So I have, respectfully, borrowed one of the questionnaires typical of the "Secret Pal" swaps that go around now and then. Even if you're not in an "official" Secret Pal Swap, it looks like useful things for a swap pal to know.

Folkcat's Trivia for Swap Pals

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you?

There are no bad yarns - there are only yarns that aren't suited for the current knitting project.

That being said, as I've become more adventurous in my knitting this year, I have come to appreciate the nicer, softer, more expensive fibers. On the other hand, I still have to avoid scratchy wools and the like, because I just can't stand them next to my skin. Soft, soft, soft!

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

I tried spinning on a drop spindle, and have concluded it just isn't for me. Crocheting I can do when necessary, but I much prefer knitting.

3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

My circular needles are kept in a multi-pocket file organizer, my straight needles in a can that I hand painted with a crackled background and a folk art angel, and my dpns are kept in a bamboo paint brush roll-up.

4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I've been knitting since about 1967 or '68, but I never got beyond doing one-piece afghans (granted, they were complex Aran cabled designs) or scarves until about 2 years ago. Now, I will try almost anything, and I'm even designing a few patterns here and there.

I would consider myself a low-advanced knitter. There are many things I haven't tried yet, but I have no doubts about my ability to do anything I have decent instructions for.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Yes, you can find it here. Be warned, it's fairly long!

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

I am allergic to the vast majority of scented products. Basically, anything that uses artificial perfumes or fragrances is right out, I'll have an asthma attack. Pure essential oils are the only options.

Since I take showers, not baths, anyhow, probably best to avoid anything scented altogether. Though I do love burning a candle now and then, the light is relaxing. Just not a scented one.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Talk about a loaded question. Archer Farms caramel corns as sold at Target are a current big favorite, especially the Banana Cashew and the Macadamia Nut varieties. I also like the Choxie chocolates.

Malted milk balls are yummy, and good, soft caramels. I like the kind of caramels that sort of start to run out of the shell after you bite into them. Chocolates with crispies are good - Nestle's Crunch would be the classic commercial variety.

Assorted chocolates from a handmade chocolate shop are amazing, but I'd avoid coconut fillings. Nuts are okay in small quantity, with cashews, macadamias, and pecans preferred over almonds and peanuts. (Though a peanut butter filling can be incredible, too.)

FUDGE. Creamy, melts-on-the-tongue, FUDGE.

Milk chocolates are better than dark. Hazelnut praline types of chocolates (as in European styles) are incredible.

I have a fondness for all things Japanese, too, and have liked every Japanese candy I've had a chance to try. I've been seeing various flavors of Japanese Kit-Kat bars on people's blogs, they look interesting!

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?

I consider myself a multi-crafter. I'm a beader, and up until Easter of 2005 I owned my own bead store. (So I probably have anything I'd want in that category!) I do some handpainting on small objects (boxes and such). I do a little collage and decoupage work.

The primary crafts, though, are the knitting and beading.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I like all sorts of music, but I really seldom listen to any. Oddly enough, music demands my attention the same way that a book does when I'm reading. I actually find it hard to do anything while I listen to music. So I just don't. Listen to music much, that is. Because I can't stop the crafting.

I'm actually more of a television watcher. I can craft while I watch TV, just not while I listen to music. Weird, huh?

Edited later to add: Oh, and yes, my computer can play MP3s. Music isn't entirely out of the question, but I listen most to nostalgic, familiar things that can serve as background music while not demanding my full attention. Some of the favorites in my computer right now are Hits of the 70's and 60's, Big Band music of the 40's, music by some local folk artists, and a set called "The Ultimate Grammy Box" which includes everything from opera to funk.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

I keep coming back to the blue/green/purple family. I'm also fond of a pink/orange/yellow combination. My favorite color of rose is a sort of salmon pink/pale orange. You know I mean the flower rose, right?

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

It's just me and my husband, Gryphon. We don't currently have any pets (we can't have cats or dogs in our apartment), although we are just now making plans to acquire a pair of female rats. We're quite excited about this, we haven't had pets in a long time, and everything we read about rats tells us they're very intelligent and affectionate, and they will bond with humans nicely even if you have more than one of them. They also like toys and games, and will play with their people.

We haven't got the rats picked out yet, since we need to have a home for them to live in first. We're going to build our own cage, since we'll be able to afford a much better, bigger one that way. But we know where we're going for the rats when we're ready - there's a pet store in Nashua that breeds their own, and the two we saw the other day were both beautiful in color, markings, and health, as well as lively and personable.

12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

Yes, sort of. I wear scarves, I wear headband/ear warmers rather than hats, I wear fingerless mitts, but they must be completely fingerless - no little stubs of knitting wrapped around the base of my fingers, that's uncomfortable. I prefer a shrug, shawl, or capelet to a poncho, they're open in front and don't get in your way as much.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

Galway, Cascade, soft sock yarns, Lion Brand Homespun (I knit prayer shawls), handpainted lace yarns, handpainted sock yarns. I want to work some more with DK weight yarns than I have in the past.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

Anything stiff or scratchy. If the skein of yarn doesn't feel good against your skin (rub it on your cheek or inside your wrist), it won't feel good in your hands while you're working with it, and you certainly won't want to wear it.

I have been known to get a rash from scratchy wools, too, though I've learned in the last year that I can work with wools that feel soft in the skein without that problem.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?

Dyeing my own lace yarns with Kool-Aid and food colors. I hope to do sock yarns, too. I have a current project where I'm designing my own pattern for yoga socks - that's socks with no toe or heel - and I plan to knit myself a full wardrobe of these.

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Shawls, hats, scarves. I'm also quite fond of felted bags, and have been collecting Noro Kureyon in various colors to make a felted tote for my laptop.

I like to knit unusual things. I've heard about patterns for knit, felted vases that I hope to get my hands on one day, my LYS isn't planning to carry them.

17. What are you knitting right now?

Currently on the needles - a short ruana that will serve as an indoor wrap against drafty windows in our old building. My first lace shawl (Kiri) knit from my own Kool-Aid dyed yarn. I just bound off a pair of yoga socks yesterday, and expect to cast on the next ones any minute now. I am also planning to start a baby blanket. No particular baby on the way, I've just been feeling it's time to get one ready.

18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Yes, I do. I appreciate that someone took the time to consider my likes and dislikes, and made something to suit me.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?

Strange question - it's not a matter of "preferring" straight or circular, it's a matter of what's the right needle for the project. So I guess my answer here has to be "Yes".

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Favorite brands are Brittany for straights and dpns, and Addi Turbo for circulars. Though I'll knit on anything that works for the current project, and I'm not above buying bundles of unnamed knitting needles at thrift stores and yard sales.

Edited later to add: Oh, yes...and I like Bryspun straight needles, the white ones with those wonderful tapered tips. They feel warm in the hand and are absolutely silent as you knit, and those concave tapers at the tip can get under any yarn like a breeze.

21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

No, and I lust after both. Though I'm going to be picky about the swift. I need a small model that will stand on a tabletop, not clamp onto the side, because I don't have any tables sturdy enough to clamp a full-size swift to. Clamping a yarn winder isn't an issue, that's much smaller and lighter.

22. How did you learn to knit?

From a little green and red book, I think by Coats and Clark, that taught knitting, crochet, and tatting. I never did pick up tatting. My mother knit, but she was left handed and I'm right handed, so while she could help me, teaching the whole shebang didn't work out.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?

That would be the belt-tie cardigan of Homespun yarn that I knit about 5 or 6 years ago, but have never stitched together. I need to relocate the book I did it from so I can be sure which way the pieces go.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?

I collect cats - figures, plushes, etc. Particular favorites are ethnic wood-carved and/or painted cats, and I have a special fondness for Maneki Nekos (the Japanese good fortune cats, with the raised paw), since I love Japanese things, too. Preferred cats are whimsical, elegant, funny, or ethnic/tribal. Egyptian is nice, too.

Now that we're planning to get rats, I imagine I'll start collecting those, too. :)

25. What is your favorite holiday?


26. Is there anything that you collect?

See #24 above. Additionally, I collect vintage beadcraft kits put out by the Walco company. They were the main source for beadcraft materials and instructions in America for decades in the 20th century. I'm especially fond of their tile-craft kits, which made beadwork trivets and doilies using cylindrical "tile beads", with linen thread, in what we today call peyote stitch. And I collect every sample card of their products that I can afford.

They also sold books of knitting patterns, too, because they made the sort of giant sequins that you would string on your yarn and knit into a hat. Ever seen the knit hats all covered with spangles in the 60's? Those were Walco. I have one of their books of hat patterns for kids, and I keep my eyes open for others.

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I don't subscribe to any of the knitting magazines. I'm a 3X sized woman, and seldom do they ever have patterns that are sized for me. Besides, I'm not a sweater wearer anyhow - I wear t-shirts and light blouses all year round, even here in New Hampshire.

28. Any books, yarn, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?

I think I'd stop short of killing for Socks That Rock yarn, though it'd be a close thing. It's not that I've had a chance to handle any personally - I just keep seeing everyone in Blogland raving about it, and it has inspired sock yarn envy.

I'm also on a bit of a quest to accumulate Noro Kureyon in assorted blue/green/purple related colorways. I have several skeins now, which I'm planning to use to make a felted knitted laptop tote, and I just don't know how many I'll need altogether. I'm not trying to use all one color - there are several colorways that overlap and thus go together.

Any books that I might want are probably on my Amazon wishlist, and I can't think of any specific ones that I'm lusting after more than the others.

29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

I want to get more into dyeing my own yarn. Not with natural dyes, I want more controllable, vivid colors that don't require gathering piles of plant material. I'm wanting to start working with the Gaywool dyes. I've only picked up one book on the subject so far, Hand-dyed Yarn Craft Projects by Debbie Tomkies.

30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

I've been finalizing my yoga sock pattern so I can make socks I'll actually wear. My skin is sensitive to the point that I can't stand my toes being all wrapped up in a sock, or my fingers being all bound up by fingers in a glove. So I've been creating my own patterns without the parts that bother me. My fingerless mitt pattern is available free on the sidebar; my yoga socks are still in development.

Given my sensitivity, it would probably not be a good idea for someone else to knit socks for me...sorry!

31. When is your birthday?

August 7th.

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