Noelliniz kutlu olsun! (Merry Christmas!)

I’m a couple of days late, I know. The sentiment remains the same and hopefully you all had great, happy, and perfect Christmases! Here in our happy little home we tried to just lay low and enjoy being together. Which we did, but we also had some craziness around here.

The day after Christmas we had all of our furniture traded out for newer versions of the same stuff (long story). While it was basically like moving in again (fortunately most of our stuff is in closets and not in drawers and such), over all we’re quite happy with the upgrades. Of course we did have to re-re-rearrange the way the guys set everything up, which meant some fun sliding and lifting.

And then we learned what I’ve always suspected about our Olive pup. She’s a big softy at heart, but if there’s a pigeon on our patio she could turn into a cold blooded killer. I’m pretty sure she just wanted to play, but after letting her out to scare a particularly stubborn one away I definitely had to clean up some feathers. If left to her own devices, I’m pretty sure there would be a “de-stuffed” pigeon on our balcony.

Most importantly, I finished (almost all) my Christmas knitting.  Mom got a hat (sock yarn from Germany) and scarf (found bought-by-weight cotton blend), Dad got a hat (bulky wool), Sister got a triangle shawl/scarf (Brooklyn Tweed wool), MKD got fingerless gloves and a matching hat (DC local sock yarn), and Mr. Awesome got a herringbone knit scarf (cashmere blend).  All were also promised socks.  Eventually.  Now I have to get started on what will now be CMR’s Valentine’s shawl since her yarn took forever to get here (and even held up Mr. Awesome’s yarn!) but it so beautiful that I forgive her… plus, I picked the color so it is my fault after all.  Lesson learned?  Tell Jimmy Beans Wool to ship as it comes in and not hold to ship all at once.

Hope you got everything you wanted and needed!  Merry Christmas to all!

Çoraplar (n: socks) Throwing in the proverbial sock.

First, I have a funny little story that I didn’t plan to add to this posting… Because I’m too lazy to change the keyboard settings when writing all of my I posts, I just google the Turkish word I’m looking for so that I can copy and paste the word with the proper characters. Sometimes I just use an online Turkish keyboard, but usually I’m lazy and just let google do my correcting. Today I was entertained to find that the top two google hits for ‘çoraplar’ are about sexy socks. I kid you not. Check it out here. (You can use google translate if you need to.)  That made my evening!

So on to the real posting.

What’s this about throwing in socks?  Doesn’t she know it’s a proverbial towel?

Yes.  I know.  But in my case it’s a sock.  As you may remember, I was planning to hand make all of this year’s Christmas gifts.  Mostly I meant knit something fun and functional for everyone on the short list and then scour Pinterest for other DIY ideas (which could kill days if I wanted it to).  I was planning to make socks for my parents because I know they’d appreciate and actually use those as opposed to other knit goods.

I have always had this weird superman vs. kryptonite relationship with socks (yes, I’m superman and socks are kryptonite in this analogy… just go with it).  I can knit scarves, sweaters, hats, gloves, and all sorts of random baby accessories but socks have always alluded me.  Something about the heel turn or maybe the gussets keeps me from trying time and again.  But I’m doing this whole 30 in 30 thing and facing all sorts of fears and short comings, right?  Socks shouldn’t be that difficult.

So while I was back in the States, I stopped at my favorite yarn store and picked up some sock yarn and an instructional how-to book.  I managed to cast on, rock out the toe section and gussets while we were on our flights back to Ankara.  And then — and I think this is where my big mistake was — I left the sock for a few days and goofed off getting everything back in order here at home.  When I went back to the sock to turn the heel, I lost all momentum and found the instructions completely unintelligible.  They might as well have had a fat little Swedish dude Pictionary style explaining it (yep, that was an open dig at Ikea).  I tried to do the heel turn three times before giving up and frogging the whole thing.  Then I tried it from the top down.  Same issue.

So I am now throwing in the proverbial sock.  I give up.  I’m not strong enough to fight the sock.  You win.  This round.  Dun dun dun.  (That was dramatic mood music where I’d raise only one eyebrow at a time… if I could.)  So for now I return to gifts I know I can knit for other people.  Perhaps we’ll revisit the sock issue in a few weeks…

 

Intelligent and Witty Lady: 0; Sock: 1

 

Kazak (n.: sweater)

I did it!  I knit an entire sweater.  And it’s wearable.  Of course, it hasn’t been soaked and blocked yet so I shouldn’t really be wearing it, but since I don’t have patience or self control I’m doing it anyway.  I figure I’ll block it eventually  and it will be like a whole new new sweater.

So I have knit a sweater before… and a relatively cute one, but in my newbie knitter’s mind I didn’t think about the fiber very seriously.  I was more interested in the color and the pattern than the fact that if I knit a sweater out of cotton it would weigh a TON.  Which is why I almost never wear it.  That and the fact that for some reason it seems to be a bit shorter than I generally like my loose, comfy sweaters… I’m still too lazy to add extra length but it is the plan.  Eventually.  And then I’ll wear that one more.  Maybe (see above about the weight factor).

The heavy, not as cute as it could be sweater is a thing of the past though.  I actually finished this sweater just before leaving for the States.  And I’m quite happy with it.  Retrospectively I should have read more ravelry reviews and comments, because my complaints are exactly as other knitters said — a bit heavy/thick so more of a jacket than a sweater and the sleeves are slightly snug for layering — but overall I am quite happy with it.

The front of my awesomely wearable sweater

A few other lessons learned:

1. Measurements are real.  So if the pattern says the finished project will measure ‘x’ (and your gauge is accurate) then it will in fact measure ‘x’.  So pay closer attention if you want a looser/bigger sweater!

2. Wool, while lighter than the dreaded cotton sweater, is still not really a light-weight fiber.  Plan accordingly.

Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of your own back?

3. Pockets should be added BEFORE seaming everything together.  Even if the pattern doesn’t include pockets, be realistic… you like pockets… just add them.

4. Sometimes it is in fact a better idea to buy stuff than to make it.  Overall I love love love that I made this sweater by hand for myself and I really will appreciate the effort that went into it.  However, considering the time and money spent on wool perhaps homemade sweaters aren’t always better than store bought.  This also applies to that silly little voice in your head that says, “100 bucks?!  I could make that sweater!” Yep.  The Eddie Bauer sweaters are worth it.

Very. Which is why these are blurry. You’ll have to believe that it looks like the pictures on the pattern link. Because it does.

İplik (n.: yarn, thread, rope) Finding my new favorite local yarn store

… Or perhaps this should be titled “Yet more proof I’m an eighty year old trapped in a twenty-nine year old’s body” …

So if you didn’t know this, I love textiles and fibers.  I think this might be why I started knitting in the first place really, because who needs that many scarves/hats/mittens/sweaters?  (I still have yet to master the sock, but I have a whole list of Christmas gifts that need to be handmade so I just might give it a go this fall.)

Yarn!

I started knitting after leaving the US, so have had to learn new vocabulary in each place I’ve lived since — as well as learning these terms in English! — about knitting and fibers.  In Germany there were some lovely yarn stores with great supplies, but I was so spoiled I didn’t know that I should have stocked up.  Bosnia had some okay fibers, but not such great needles and such.  And a lot of the yarns were mostly acrylic so I would stock up at my favorite stores stateside any time I made it home.

Yarn store #2 and 100% wool!

I assumed moving to Turkey there would be lovely yarns: wools, silks, angora, cottons, Oh My!  When I started doing my online research (ravelry’s forums rock), I found a lot of complaints about lack of quality yarns.  I decided I had to get out and check for myself, so I went to Kızılay which is the part of town most people suggested.  And it makes sense since Kızılay is really what most people consider the heart of Ankara.  I found tons of stores!

So not all quality, but something to be said about quantity, no?

I found the stores that were recommended by fellow bloggers and ravelry forum friends as well as a few more.  I must say that the vast majority of the yarns were, sadly, acrylic in nature but there were a few nice wool or wool blends to be had.  I would compare the stores and selection I found to a local Hobby Lobby or Micheal’s store in the US.  Not where I want to go just to peruse and enjoy the fibers, but they’ll do.  Especially because, unlike Micheal’s or Hobby Lobby, these stores are SUPER affordable.  If I’m buying not great yarn for super cheap, I’m not so upset about it being not so great…  But even the wool was rather reasonable.

My new steal! (And bad flash.)

Then as I was walking to my bus stop to return home after a fun afternoon of perusing (but impressively not buying), I spotted a sign that led me to a basement level store that was having a sale.  The selection was the same as the others except for a bin towards the back of the store filled with unwrapped yarn loosely balled together into skein-like shapes.  I asked how much they were and was told they were sold by their weight (40 TL/kilogram).  When I asked what they were (fiber-wise) and why they weren’t in wrappers I was told they were meant for export but were colors the company didn’t want to send and were cotton-acrylic blend (75-25 respectively, which I am pretty sure was just a guess).  While I have plenty of stash yarn and a project list that’s already too long, I couldn’t help myself.  I pulled out a blob of beautiful, soft purple yarn.  Turned out to be four skeins weighing about a fourth of a kilo (meaning 9.5 TL or about 5 bucks!).  Now I get to find a new project to use it on!

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