Sunday, June 23, 2013

House-ular Updates

So Dan and I are gearing up to move! Okay, at this point 99% of the preparation is mental but still, it's a big deal! The house we put the offer in on is pretty much ours now. Well, you know, except for the payment thing. The inspection uncovered some roof issues but the sellers are now replacing the roof. So once that is done, we can move on to closing! Currently our closing date is set for July 25. One day late, but I'm totally saying that Dan's buying me a house for my birthday. Again.

Of course, this means we've been figuring out how we'll set up the new house. It's an acre lot (no pool - yet) so we're thinking a push mower isn't going to cut it. And we'll have two extra rooms and an extra half bath to furnish. We'll need rugs. And speaker cable to run. And cabinet organization things. A shower curtain. The list is getting kind of long. I have a feeling we will be handing over lots of money to places like Ikea, the Container Store and Costco in the near future! (So yeah, if you get stuck on gift ideas for us for the next year or so, gift cards would be lovely!)

On the other side of the coin, we are starting to make another (slightly shorter) list of what we need to do with our current house before we sell it. Dan's already gotten rid of a couple of dead bushes this weekend so that can be checked off. But we've got a bit of carpet repair to do and we are trying to figure out how little re-painting we can get away with. And cleaning. And a yard sale.

It's going to be exciting to have the new house, but it's going to be sad to leave this one, too. I've got some built in shelves that Dan made for me that we won't be able to take and that's sad. Plus, this house was our first home together! We picked out the tile and counters and wood stain.... Bitty was born in this house!

But as sad as it will be to leave, I am looking forward to the next step. Especially since that next step includes getting a pool! (Of course, that means pool furniture gets added to the list.)

Sunday, June 16, 2013


For the first time in ages, I've finally made some bread! Previously, I just hadn't been able to get up the motivation to do it, but tonight, I felt all energized. And I really wanted some bread. So I made some.

French Bread

I have decided that I just can't hand-knead properly, but as long as I use my stand mixer to knead, I get happy, light and fluffy bread. Tonight's French bread definitely had a happy result - one loaf is almost gone!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Another One Bites The Dust

Finally! I've had this project in process since March and it's just been sitting there doing nothing since April. But at long last, I get to mark it as done!

Pleated Purse

It's a cute little pleated purse that I had intended to use this on our cruise last month. Now that the cruise has passed, though, I really have no idea what to do with it!

Oh well! At least it is no longer languishing. And with this one being marked as complete, my works-in-progress are at zero! Zero! I'm sure that won't be the case for long though; I have a cardigan up next but I'm not sure when I'm going to start that. The whole house buying thing has me rather distracted - it's tough to settle down and knit!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Chiaogoo Interchangeable Review

It's taken me a while, but I've finally gotten the chance to give the ChiaoGoo interchangeables some attention.

ChiaoGoo Interchangable

ChiaoGoo offers two different interchangeable sets, the Spin (bamboo) and the Twist (metal). Even though my interchangeable hunt started with a focus on wood & bamboo needles, I decided to look at both sets since 1) the pieces are interchangeable between sets and 2) my ultimate winner was a metal needle so I feel it is only fair to review the compara ble ChiaoGoo needle.

First off, the Spin. These bamboo needles come with clear nylon cables that swivels.

ChiaoGoo Spin

I'm going to say this a lot in this post, but the feel of these reminds me a lot of HiyaHiya bamboos. Those are resin-impregranted and I have to assume these are, too, since they both feel a bit plasticy to me. I have heard some say that KAs feel more plastic-like, but to me KA feel like a smooth, natural wood and ChiaoGoo & HiyaHiya feel more like laminated wood.

Naturally, since they are bamboo they are a bit grippy, but no more than my KAs. Bamboo typically has rather dull points, but I've been impressed with the pointiness of the Spins. Mind you, I picked up the ChiaoGoo Twist in a US4, but the point is finer than the KA Switch's point in the same size. I can't really compare them to the sharpness of the HiyaHiya bamboo as I have destashed the ones I got back when and even then I had a US10.5 which will have a larger point no matter what.

Personally, I'm not in love with these just because of the feel of the bamboo, but I don't hate them. They are less grippy than the Clover needles I have used and seem only slightly grabbier than, say, a Knit Picks or Knitter's Pride needle.

The ChiaoGoo metal needles are the Twist. These stainless steel needles have the well-known ChiaoGood red nylon-coated steel cables.

ChiaoGoo Twist

Before this, I hadn't been exposed to the ChiaoGoo red cables, though I had heard folks gushing about them. I can see why some people like them - there is zero memory and they have a firmness that would be nice when working on heavier projects - but personally, I'm not a fan. If I were to use the cables as a regular circ, I'd probably be okay, but I rarely do that. These cables make magic looping virtually impossible; the combination of the firmness of the cables and the lack of swivel resulted in such tugging at the loop's cross points that I ended up with ladders. I never have ladders when magic looping! Switching to two circs at a time, I could feel the extra resistance in the cables. It gave a heavier, more weighty feel to my knitting (in a bad way). The resistance wasn't prohibitive to happy knitting, but it's not something I'd want to deal with all the time. We'll call that a personal preference thing.

The other mark against these needles is the smell. I'm fairly sensitive to smells and I hate that dirty-metal smell (like the smell your hand gets when you handle a lot of coins). These cables smell like dirty change. Fortunately, the smell never transferred to my hands (a fact to which I credit the nylon coating) and it did fade after a few hours of knitting, but it was still a really distracting (and disconcerting) issue. Yuck.

US4 Point Comparison
Tip Comparison in US4
HiyaHiya SHARPS, ChiaoGoo Twist, ChiaoGoo Spin, KA Switch

Compared to the HiyaHiya, I think they are remarkably similar. Materials seem alike, both offer four- and five-inch needle lengths, points seem comparable (when comparing to the HiyaHiya SHARPS, not their regular tips). I could only come up with a handful of differences between the two sets:
  • The red cables that come with the ChiaoGoo Twist (metal) set are different from anything HiyaHiya offers
  • Both ChiaoGoo sets have lifeline holes, the HiyaHiya do not
  • The connector is shorter and has a sharper slope on the ChiaoGoos, a longer connector with a more gradual slope on the HiyaHiyas
The red cables are a bit of a negative to me, but they don't make me hate the set. If I was really in love with the needles (if I hadn't met HiyaHiya), I could always buy and use the Twist cables. Speaking of which, I do like the fact that the different cables are interchangeable between the sets. HiyaHiya bamboo and metal sets are interchangeable, but aside from needle materials, the two sets have no differences. I know lifeline holes are a requirement for some but I always end up getting my stitch markers caught unless I put a lifeline in with a needle, so I don't really view them as a positive (or negative). The connector length and slope probably makes the most difference to me since the longer HiyaHiyas seem to feed stitches easier onto the needle. The ChiaoGoos aren't problematic in normal knitting, but I did have some trouble when trying to get overtightened stitches (from a provisional cast on) onto the needle.

Bottom line: Both HiyaHiya and ChiaoGoo are good options. HiyaHiya is still my winner but ChiaoGoo are solid-runners up. If the lifeline or nylon-coated steel cable were requirements for me in my what-needle-set-makes-me-happiest search, then ChiaoGoo. But since they are not, they don't.

(ETA: HiyaHiya now makes cables with lifeline holes.)

Previous posts in my needle hunt saga:
Part I A and Part I B
Part II
Part III
And some gushing about the winner
My KA Switch short set review
This post is my ChiaoGoo Spin and Twist review!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Step One: Complete!

It has taken me a shameful amount of time, but as of today, I have officially introduce myself to my sewing machine. I even made a mini-project to practice!

Sewing Project

Okay, it's not a really the best made project. I didn't have a pattern and it was a learning project so there are a few things that... well, were learning experiences. But it is usable and I learned how to make buttonholes so I consider it a win all the way around. Also, I totally love my sewing machine! Yay!

Now that I have defeated the sewing machine nerves, it is time to work on the lining of my poor knit bag project that has been languishing since April. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In Other News...

Completely finished socks!

Finished Product

And let me tell ya, nothing more comfortable than wearing wool socks in 90+° heat outside in direct sunlight.

But they fit perfectly and I luf them. At this rate, by fall I'll have enough hand knit socks to finally get rid of some of my older, falling apart fun socks but still have a full sock wardrobe! (Because really, fall is the next time I truly expect to actually wear any socks for longer than a few photographs.)

Holy Veal

An offer Dan & I put in on a house was just accepted. I'm at a bit of a loss for words. OMG, we are going to buy a new house. Crazy!

Also, autocorrect is a funny, funny thing.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Kitty News

Nothing resolved with Bitty yet. Her stitches are out and ear canal is no longer gunky but the bloody ball is still there and her eardrum is bowing a little. Could be a polyp, could be an infection, could be another tumor. More tests are needed to find out so we'll be doing that as soon as we find a place that has the right equipment (some sort of biopsy-taking ear scope).

In other news (though still kitty related), it was Gidget's turn to get her annual exam and shots from the vet.


At her age, the exam includes a urinalysis, but her little bladder was empty. So she's camped out at the vet today until she can piddle in a cup for them. Hopefully that won't be long! The house is sadly unfluffy without her!

ETA: Gidget is back home - official test results should be back tomorrow!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Do I Love My KA Switch Interchangeables?

Last month, I bought a set of the KA Switch 2” interchangeables. I've knit two pair of socks with them now, so I think I'm ready to give my official opinion: two thumbs up... with a caveat.


First off, I’m really glad I bought this set. I LOVE knitting socks on 9” circs. For me, it is the perfect way to knit socks.

But while I love having this set, I'm not completely in love with the needles. Since they are bamboo, they are a little grippier than my oh so perfect HiyaHiyas. These needles also have the size cut into the shaft of the needle. Really convenient to easily see what size everything is, but the small edges created by the imprints create a little extra drag and, with more difficult yarns, can snag a bit. This wasn't an issue for the orange socks I made; in fact the needles felt a bit silkier after knitting a sock in that yarn. But the purple pair above was a different story. I don't know if it was because that yarn was 25% nylon with the superwash wool (instead of 10% buffalo, like the orange socks) but boy, the needles ended up grippy and snaggy. A bit more than half way through the socks, I waxed the needles with some beeswax with really helped but that didn't seem to last on one of the needles. So I need to figure out a better bamboo moisturizer to help with that issue. Even during the worst of the snagging, though, they never got to, say, Clover level of rough grippiness.

The second issue, not as big of a deal, is the dullness of the needle points. Honestly, they aren't dull compared to other bamboo needles, but compared to my HiyaHiya Sharps... yeah. Knitting with bowling balls. But for those used to knitting with bamboo, it's not going to be an issue. Those more into wood or metal needles, though, will notice the difference.

Finally, the last issue that I didn't have a problem with but I imagine some others might is the cable. I think it is because they are so small, but the cables are a bit stiff feeling and they do have a memory. Check out the needle in the above picture. Quite a nice curve to the cable, huh? And with how it feels, I'm pretty confident when I say that the curve won't come out. But! I can honestly say it never caused an issue. First off, since they are 9" circs, it's not like their shape or orientation changes during knitting a sock - the curve just keeps curving. And when doing a heel or using two needles at a time to make the toes, the smooth-as-butter swivel on these babies makes even the strong curve imperceptible. I am a tad concerned about the sharp bend I've managed to put in them right at the end of the needle, but I'm thinking that the denseness (which is likely what gives the cables their rigidity) will protect the cables. (I'll update if that opinion changes!)

Grippiness(/snagging), dull points and inflexible cables are the only non-positives of this set. I don't think the last one is really a negative since other factors cancel it out and cable rigidity tends to be a personal preference. I also accept that dullness just comes with bamboo needles. Which leaves me with the only unhappy aspect of these needles being the grip/snag. So yeah, I'm going to work on finding just the right type of wax to smooth these puppies out but it's not going to stop me from using these. Even with the worst of the snagging, it was better knitting with these than it was magic looping or doing two circs at a time. DPNs would have been fine but I like being able to attach a longer cable to try socks on while knitting and I just can't get a DPN-filled sock on my foot. So even snaggy 9" circs win all day long.

Bottom line: I am not in love with the needles but I am in love with having 9” interchangeables, if you get the distinction. I do really like the needles, though more so when knitting with things like the orange yarn, not the purple. Of course, if HiyaHiya came out with a set of US0 and up 2” interchangeables, I’d drop these babies like a bad habit. But as I don't think that's going to happen any time soon, I'm going to keep knitting with these (and enjoying it).

As a side note: As of May this year, KA is switching their smallest sized connector from an M1.6 to an M1.8. So if anyone decides to get any KAs that have needles for the smallest sized connector, make sure to clarify with the vendor what size they are. Last news I had, KA will be discontinuing the M1.6, making any broken or lost needles (or accessories) hard to replace and there are no current converters on the market (from M1.6 to M1.8).

Also, when I was trying to buy this set, KA was in the middle of the conversion which caused several vendors problems in getting all the accessories I wanted (cable connectors, end caps, extra needles) in the M1.8 size. I ended up contacting The Mannings who went above and beyond and were completely awesome by getting me everything I wanted in the new M1.8 size and in time for my vacation. Kudos to them! I highly recommend emailing them if anyone is looking for a great place to get KA products. Seriously awesome folks. (Especially when three other vendors gave me some version of the brush off when they figured out what I was looking for!) Yay for the Mannings!

And yay for 9" interchangeable needle sets!

Previous posts in my needle hunt saga:
Part I A and Part I B
Part II
Part III
Some gushing about the big winner
The KA Switch Short set review is right here!
And my Chiaogoo Spin and Twist review is here

Yet Another Pair!

I just finished my most recent knitting project: more socks!

More Socks!

This one was a fun little challenge - the pattern was written to be knit from cuff to toe and (as part of a test knit from the designer), I got to figure out how to knit the socks reversed, from toe to cuff! I'm really pleased at how they turned out - I think they look just like the original pattern, heel flap and everything!

Needless to say, my project notes are fairly extensive for this one. Mostly because I had to rewrite the pattern to do it toe up. Ultimately, I did manage to get the lace pattern on the socks backwards but since it took me a bit comparing pictures to figure that out, I'm content.

Technically, I have a cardigan next on my to-do list but I really, really need to learn to use my sewing machine so I can finish off one project that has been sitting, abandoned since mid-April for want of a zipper and lining. So my cardigan is going to have to wait for me to learn to sew (again).

I really should have finished up that project before starting these latest socks. In my defense, I didn't mean to knit these socks at all. But the test knit popped up and I couldn't resist. I have no impulse control.

But that's okay, because I have more socks!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tumor News

Just heard from the vet. The test results are in from Bitty's tumor and it was confirmed that it was a mast cell tumor. Fortunately, those are usually benign in cats and they were able to remove it entirely. We'll still need to watch for further spots, but it's not likely to be anything that requires any more treatment beyond a simple removal.


That being said, we still have to figure out what is going on in her left ear canal with the goop and the blood. There are a few possibilities but the one we are leaning towards is just a bad infection that will take longer to clear up than the one in her right ear. There is still a slim chance it could be another tumor.

Bitty goes back Tuesday to have her sutures out and she'll get her ear canal checked out then. We are washing her ear with medicine daily so hopefully that will clear everything up. Fingers crossed that next week we'll have a cone-free, fully healthy Bitty!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cone of Shame

Bitty is slowly recovering from the surgery that removed the mast cell tumor on her ear. She's on pain medication so she's a bit loopy, but she's no longer hiding under the bed all the time, which is a good thing. In fact, right now she's on top of the bed, napping with Dan.

Cone of Shame

The pain medication does make her sleepy but the cone is the biggest problem right now. It's to keep her from scratching her stitches out but it's also making it difficult for her to fit her face into the food bowl. We've tested a few different solutions out and think we've hit upon something that works - a huge bowl piled high with food. Doing it this way means she can eat fairly easily but it also means that she ends up frequently turning her cone into a shovel and dumping food all over the place. Sam and Chloe are really enjoying cleaning up after her.

The ear visible in the picture above is the ear that had the tumor. It actually looks really good - the vet did a great job! The bottom of the ear is a little higher than the other ear but I think that once the hair grows in the difference will be almost invisible.

We should find out the biopsy results next week so keep an eye out for that (hopefully good) news!