Friday, December 31, 2004

Crochet Anyone?

While watching Van Helsing last night I decided to play with my lovely Rowan tape.

I bought it from the one and only Carrieoke when she was attempting to trim some stash. I've been leaving this yarn in highly visible places because I love the color and I'm intrigued by the texture. She included the Rowan It's a Tape Thing book and I've liked the look of Candy but don't really have much use for a hat like that. My head is so tiny as it is, it'd only exaggerated my hair below the brim and make me look all pin headed above the brim. Not a great look on me. So, I decided to pull out my various pattern books and I found a motif with a similar feel.

The bottom two pieces are blocked. I had to modify the pattern to make the half motif, but that was relatively easy to do. For all of you out there who hate to block, I think this is a good example of how blocking can subtly but meaningfully change the look of your work. If you compare the two, not only do you get more surface area out of the blocked version, but the final look is lighter and more delicate, despite the fact that both are worked in the same yarn with the same hook.

I haven't exactly decided what I want to do with the motifs, but making a few more with allow me to play a bit. I have 10 skeins of the stuff and these motifs were made with less than one skein, so I can get a lot of distance with my stash. I am thinking of combining knit and crochet in this piece, possibly working the motifs as a yolk on a predominately knit top.

Speaking of Carrieoke, she and I have both been named finalist, along with 8 other individuals for the BoB awards for Knitting/Crafting blogs. Voting starts tonight and I hope you'll take a look at all the blogs nominated and give your vote for the one you like best. There are a variety of other categories as well. Who knows, maybe you'll discover some new favorites.

Finally, because she just won't let up on the cute, here's one more pic of Panda.

This was after we finished watching the movie. You can see my Spongebob Squarepants PS2 controller and our wine decanter on the table, along with puddle face, laying on the charm.

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Thank you to all of you who offered to test my cloche pattern. I've finally finished the last of the details of the pattern and am ready to have it proofed. I've named it "Erte" after a designer from the 1920s that I'm quite fond of.

I drew a knitter's name at random and am just waiting for a final confirmation before I send along the pattern. If she opts out, I'll give the second name I drew the option.

Today's my last day at work for four days. I don't know how many of you listen to NPR but there was a funny little commentary yesterday about how we should all be granted the week between Christmas and New Years off when both holidays fall on a weekend day (approximately once every 4 years) because even those of us who have to be at work can't do too much since so many others are off. That's an idea I can get behind, but I'm not holding my breath.

If there is one shining light in my rather slow past couple of weeks at work, it's been my weekly S&B at work. My newest "student" brought me a lovely Christmas gift yesterday. It's a Navajo dream catcher which I'm half tempted to keep in my office except for the fact that I think it sends the message that I like to nap there. The boss may not like that insinuation.

Finally, I thought you might like to see some Panda on Panda violence that's been taking place in my house.

I'd be horrified if it weren't so cute. This was one of Panda's many birthday and Christmas gifts. She amputated one of its legs within minutes of receiving it but the rest has stayed intact since.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

You've twisted my arm

I'm going to do it, I'll take the plunge. I am going to sell my cloche pattern instead of giving it away for free. Enough of you have been utterly too sweet for words and accused me of selling myself short, or not selling myself at all, or something like that, that I'm going to see how selling the pattern works for me. I would like to have someone test drive my pattern before I do so, though. I need a willing victim volunteer. If you have some Koigu sitting around, can knit circularly and work short rows and would be willing to give the pattern a go, I'll offer you the pattern for free. I only need one tester so if more than one person is willing, I'll pick someone at random. Just email me at marnie at marniemaclean dot com and put "cloche" in the subject line. For those of you who haven't seen the hat, this is the pic of it

I've also declared my holiday affiliation, albeit a little late. I'm now officially calling myself a "Secular Consumerist." That's right, I have no religious affiliation but I'm still swapping gifts like a fiend over the holiday season. The mascot is a Collections Agent, and all our songs are made by those obnoxious toys that only vengeful grandparents and folks who've never had kids willing get for children. Now I just need to get the Peanuts characters to put together a 30 minute holiday special on the spirit of secular consumerism and I'm good to go.

I'm misty eyed already.

I think I'm nearing the home stretch for the Soy Silk piece. I'll give you a peek because I feel like I haven't offered you guys much knitting content lately. I don't think it gives you a real feel for what the final piece will look like, anyway.

You might be noticing some odd sewing paraphernalia scattered about the perimeter. Must make you wonder what the heck I'm gonna do with all of it, huh?

And for all of you who have cursed the beautiful California weather mocking the frigid icy soul draining winter in your neck of the woods, you’ll be happy to know we’re enjoying torrential rain and thunder storms here in LA. I’m not terribly bothered by rain, though LA has no apparent drainage which makes for some interesting highway conditions. More than anything, other people seem completely perplexed by the concept of "caution" in dangerous driving conditions. If I can make it to and from work without being plowed down by a Hummer, I'll consider it a good day.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Loot and Toot

Christmas was filled with people I love and a big pile of loot. One of the first presents I received was this pair of carry on bags from my mom. The blue one is hard shelled, has wheels and fits into an overhead compartment. The other is a Paul Frank Scurvy bag. I'm a huge Paul Frank fan.

Here is an assortment of fine delights. There's a Spongebob talking toy. You squeeze his nose or hand and he says funny things. Panda is quite sure that she could put it to better use but she got her own Christmas presents and will have to be content with those. There's also a Panda doppelganger CD holder, a kitty shaped walkman, a beautiful hand turned pepper mill and a digital video camera.

The two items not mentioned above are a lovely cameo and the funniest watch I think I've ever seen. It's called the Bunny Sutra and it's by Swatch. It takes me back to my grade school days when Swatches were THE watch to have. Of course, ours did not have bunnies in compromising positions but that's just as well, considering my impressionable age at the time.

Last but not least are two really unexpected gifts. One is a great purse from my dear friend Janet. She went from being "friend of the family" to the "big sister I never had" when I was a teen and she's one of the people I miss the most back in NH. The purse is adorable and had a couple lovely little items inside, including a pair of vintage earrings and a mini cookbook.
The other item is "Stitch and Bitch Nation" given to me by two of the women from my S&B at work. I'm honestly surprised and flattered that they went to that effort for me.

Of course with all this talk of wonderful things, I have to put in some Panda.

Leo is not covering his eyes because he is shy. I was noticing how cute she was being and went to grab the camera and she passed such blindingly bad wind that Leo was nearly incapacitated. While I'm never one to find scatological humor all that funny, I had to admit that the combination of cute serenity juxtaposed against her eye watering "present' was pretty darn funny.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

It's the Final Countdown

Do any of you remember that song? Am I dating myself? Does dating yourself sound really lonely to you?

Ok, I swear, I'll let up on the puns.

Firstly, in honor of the impending holiday, I wanted to give you a little something to put a smile on your face. Check out this link. Make sure you scroll through all the pictures. As a friend pointed out to me, it's a little backward to tell kids that strangers are scary and then sit your child on the lap of a big hairy stranger and walk away. Something to consider.

My brother leaves today and I'm actually pretty sad to see him go. Matt and I weren't terribly close growing up but he's a good guy and a lot of fun to have around. But since we're talking about good men, I want to give a huge "thank you" to my sweet Leo who has been nothing short of wonderful while I've been working all week. Not only has he entertained Matt every day that I could not, he also chauffeured him about as need be. I just want to say publicly how wonderful my man is. Best Christmas gift a girl could ask for.

It does, finally, feel like everything is calming down. The "final countdown" to Christmas is not looming nearly so ominously over my head. All the mailed presents have arrived at their destination, all presents for local loved ones are bought AND WRAPPED. Imagine that. I gave all my work S&B buddies magnets from my cafepress store. They seemed touched that I made the effort. While I was ordering from my own store, I decided to get myself a hoodie. What can I say, a girl can get a treat for herself, right?

Please excuse the way I look. Bed head, PJs, and a fitful sleep do not make for glamour shots.

Oh, and finally, to all of you who responded to my last post, thank you. It's amazing how common a problem this is for bloggers, but I should point out that there truly are many people who are wonderful, thoughtful, polite and a joy to correspond with. Statistically, there are probably very few people who feel so entitled, they are just that proverbial "squeaky wheel" that bloggers notice most.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Is it just me?

Since I've started offering free patterns and even more now that I have a blog, I've noticed a certain unattractive trend. Now, don't get me wrong, I love getting mail from people. I enjoy discussing knitting with folks. I certainly don't mind when people ask me questions about my blog, patterns or puppy, but I'm distressed by a fairly regular stream of emails.

There are two types in particular:

Firstly, I get a great many emails from people asking me for highly specific patterns. Someone might write and say something along the lines of "I'm looking for a bathing suit pattern for a six year old girl using chunky yarn on number 13 needles. It cannot have any left leaning decreases."
These people will sometimes close with: "Do you have a pattern like that?"

Secondly, people will contact me, out of the blue, having never spoken to me. They'll email a photo of something they like and ask me to tell them how to knit it.

Now, neither of these requests is, in and of themselves, objectionable, but I find it frustrating that folks make no attempt to know me before presuming I'll give them these free services. It feels to me like there are many people who don't want to take the time to look around for patterns on their own and they'll simple search for a few minutes then email the owner of the last free pattern site they went to.

There was a time when I would spend an hour or more writing up a custom pattern for people to accommodate their request. More often than not, I would not receive a response. When I started feeling a little tired of that, I would spend my time using google to look for free patterns that fit their request. Still, no response. At this point, I've started to feel that it isn't worth my time to help strangers because they don't value the effort I put in. This is an unpleasant feeling and not the person I like to be.

Keep in mind, this is not to disparage any of the lovely people with whom I have occasional or frequent correspondences. This blog has helped me meet some of the nicest folks and the goodwill between us is a joy. What I don't care for is feeling that the fact that I offer free content means strangers are entitled to more.

I'm wondering if others of you out there have this same experience? For me, it's not so much the request in and of itself but the fact that a person would not feel it worth their time to even acknowledge the effort put in and thank me. I may be taking this all too seriously, but I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

In knitting news, I've been working a little on my "mindless knitting" which has languished while my time has been in short supply. Of course, the weather has been in the 80s so I've needed a scarf like I need a boot to the head, but it'll be nice to have a simple ribbed scarf when it's finally complete.

I actually have some thoughts on making it less simple. I'm not sure what I want to do with it, but it will be something properly Marnie-esque. I have one more ball of the mohair blend which would give it a great length but I may save some of it for end treatments. We'll see.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

A couple updates and wasabi

Matt is here and we've been having a lovely time. I've gotten a bit of my soy silk piece done and it's finally feeling like it's moving along. Mr. Bunny Pants is still going. His will is strong and Panda thinks he's great. In fact, she is at my feet with said bunny as we speak. I am thinking that I might adapt the pattern to make a little kitty for her as well. I'll wait to see how long Mr. Bunny Pants lasts.

For those of you who are in the mood for some non-knitting content, you can see our adventures in sushi from last night.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Mr. Bunny Pants

Mr. Bunny Pants is done. He's an enigma, no? Made from the "mama bear" size and entirely free of pants, he is nonetheless, Mr. Bunny Pants. If you haven't read my previous posts, this is from Kate's pattern and it's as fun to knit as it is cute. Mr. Bunny Pants was more of a test drive form me and I'd like to try him again in something nubblier. I'm not sure if I'm just a super loose knitter or if it's just the nature of the yarn, but the knitting seems a little sparse in tighter areas. I think a nubby or fuzzy yarn would obscure that a little.

Why does Mr. Bunny Pants look so frightened? Well, as Jessica guessed in yesterday's comments, Mr. Bunny Pants is a gift for Miss Panda. She loves all things squeaky and soft, and being made of 100% wool doesn't hurt either. How do I achieve squeakiness? With these, of course.

I used to sew toys for Panda and she's kept those for the whole 3 years I've had her, while other toys have been properly eviscerated. Mr. Bunny Pants may not stand a chance of lasting that long but since I'm listening to the sweet sound of squeaker as we speak, I know it'll be worth it for the fun she'll have.

If any of you are wondering where to get squeakers for doggy toys, I like to get mine here. This is a great store for dog lovers. All their treats are very healthy and safe for dogs and the prices can't be matched. I had looked everywhere for squeakers and most places sold them for 3 to 4 times the price that Sit Stay offers.

If you want to give your dogs something really special and gross your friends (and maybe yourself) out, you should consider getting some of these. Panda thinks they are macho-licious

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Couldn't Help Myself

I want to be good, I want to stay on task, but how can I when such a cute pattern beckons me?

Last night, before bed, I treated myself to knitting the legs of the Mamma Bunny from Kate's pattern.
I'm using some leftover Cascade 220 I have and #6 needles. The pattern is moving along quickly and it's great fun to see how she designed it to be worked in one piece.

In other news, my brother is coming out to visit for a few days before Christmas. I'm hoping the weather will be more cooperative than when he was out for Thanksgiving. The house is in sore need of some tidying so that will be my main responsibility tomorrow. I'm sure I'll fit some bunny knitting time in there, somewhere.

Panda asked me to to thank all of you for sending your love her way. I've told her that she is not allowed to get any older after this year since I think she's perfect right now and I want her around forever. She said she'll work on that.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

That Time of the Year

I always think that THIS year Christmas will be no big deal. Seriously, I say this every year like somehow that will be true. Magically, despite the fact that I procrastinate horribly and don't start thinking about anything Christmas related until, well, until there are lights on everyone's balcony and Christmas music in ever store, somehow, regardless of my blatant disregard for an impending deadline, this year will be smooth and carefree.

Well, guess what, bucko, it's as crazy and stressful as last year. Pretty darn silly when you consider the fact that I'm not even religious. Well, there you go Hallmark, another worshiper at the altar of commerce.

Luckily, I have a small circle of friends and only a few family members with whom I swap gifts. I have almost all of my presents out of the way except for one person, but I already know what I want to get her, I just need to get me bum to the store to procure said items. I could have ordered them online but it's too late to try for the free shipping. Why is it too late? Because I didn't plan better. Hmmm, funny that.

In other news, I'm just smitten with Kate Gilbert's new bunny pattern. I just bought the pattern and am using all my willpower to hold myself back from going stash spelunking and starting one right now. I really need to finish my soy silk piece first. Speaking of which, that piece is going well, though slowly. I'm a "knit in the round when you can" kind of girl, so progress seems to move glacially but when I'm done, I'm really done.

Finally, guess who turns 4 today

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Knitless Friday Night

My Fridays tend to go one way or the other. I'm either sitting at home knitting, quit possibly heading to bed by 11, wearing sweats and a flannel, or I'm out wreaking havoc in LA. Last night leaned more towards the later. We started the night by catching our friend Vinnie playing at a coffee house in Santa Monica. Unfortunately, we only caught the last hour of his act but it was a good hour nonetheless.
After that we headed to The Derby. This used to be my favorite place to go swing dancing but it appears that they are moving away from that theme. I guess retro 50's swing is no longer cool and punk is back because we saw two British Punk bands there. Unfortunately, the back room was being rented out for a party. The people in front of us in line sounded like they said they were here for this guy's party, so it may have been their wrap or holiday bash. That would also explain this monstrosity parked in the lot:

Click here to see the whole picture as well as how I feel about Hummers in general. We can all thank Leo for taking the picture.
There was a second stretch Hummo which you can see a bit of in the linked picture (off to the right, My left hand is in front of it.). It, though, wasn't raised and chromed out.

Now, regarding the previous post's poll, first off I want to send big hugs to all of you. You are terribly sweet and make me feel like I may have been shamelessly fishing for compliments. While it wasn't my intention, it still made me feel great. The vast majority of you (89%) feel that my concerns are baseless and I have nothing to worry about. Almost everyone echoed that it would be in poor taste to readapt a "for sale" pattern into a free pattern, but none seemed to think I was doing so. I was amazed with how many people posted comments. Surely, 29 comments is a record for my little blog. I would like to address some of them, so here goes.

Mim commented that she saw knit blogs as part of a community and that communities share. That was really my hope, I can talk to myself without running spell check, but my blog and patterns let me be a part of a greater circle of virtual and physical friends. Of course, I do feel a nagging urge to remind people that the sharing only extends as far as law allows. I would hope that all of you would keep yourself up to date on copyright law. Julia did a great post on this, recently. Please scroll down to the 27th.

A couple of you commented that I should do a book of patterns or start selling patterns and in general wondered what kind of logic could possible drive me to offer lots of free patterns. For now, I do a few "for sale" projects here and there. I should have a pattern in a book in 2006 that I'm very excited about. I am also working on a piece for Soy Silk and may have a couple other pieces here and there. While the idea of being a full time knit designer does call to me, right now, it's my hobby and not my job. I do my very best with my patterns but I have no editor and no test knitters. Because of this, I feel that my designs are interesting but I can't guarantee any level of quality from my pattern writing. I've been teaching myself over the past couple of years and I think anyone who has worked with my patterns would agree that the newer ones are far better written than the old. To Kerry's comment, my free patterns also come with the offer that you can reach me directly if you have a question or a concern.

Ultimately, though, I think the whole "free pattern" thing is my little psychological ploy to keep knitting from ever being a chore. It's never as fun to have deadlines and approvals as it is to just knit what I like and offer what I can.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Yesterday, I woke up, ground some coffee beans, filled the coffee maker with some filtered water and turned it wouldn't turn on. It's been a bit touchy lately so I wasn't shocked, I just clicked the button a couple more times, letting a couple empty threats out as I did so. Still, nothing came. Finally, the little red light came on, but unlike previous times, it didn't actually brew any coffee it just heated the empty pot, leaving the grounds dry and the reserve of water untouched. In my head, I was screaming like the heroin in a bad b-list movie. This is our coffee maker. If we had read the reviews before buying it, we probably wouldn't have gotten this model. It hasn't been 15 months since we bought it. I'd expect better.

Thank god for our French Press.

I'd write a poem to it if I were more poetic.

In knitting news I've posted two of the soon to be four sizes in the Bella Paquita pattern. I've also tried to add plenty of information about working with the chart and some suggestions for modifying the pattern for yourself. I'm not sure when I'll get the two larger sizes up, but hopefully it won't be too long from now.

I'll move on to the cloche after that. The cloche will be my 25th free pattern.

I did have an odd thought yesterday. Actually, it was more distressing than odd. I was reading through some old Knit List digests and the topic of Bonne Marie Burns' felted bucket hat came up. After a few back and forths, someone else posted a bunch of free alternatives. My initial thought was, "Wow, that woman just robbed Bonne Marie of $5." Obviously, she did nothing of the sort and looking through the free alternatives, it was clear that none were as nicely designed, but still, it got me thinking. Are my free patterns offered at the expense of designers who are trying to make money off of patterns? If the selection of free patterns gets better, does that lower the value of patterns available at cost? Am I a horrible person?

You know what this means, right? Yup, another internet poll.

Does offering free patterns of decent quality, adversely impact designers trying to sell their patterns?
Yes, you are evil and deserve to rot in hell with only a single knitting needle and a tattered ball of acrylic yarn.
To some degree, yes, but you are only one of many people and shouldn't worry too much.
Yes, if your patterns are significantly like popular "for sale" patterns.
No, Marnie, you only have 24 patterns, get over yourself. You aren't crushing anyone's aspirations here.
No, silly girl, people will pay for good patterns, regardless of what's on the internet. It's up to the designers to make their designs worth it.
Some other answer which you'll find in the comments.


Free polls from

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Quick Post

I had to share a little knit related humor. Via Big Action the man who brought you the Bad Sweater Guy comes, well, no words can describe it, you'll just have to see it for yourself.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Winter in LA

Ok, I know that many of you live in areas with real seasons. I used to as well, so you don't need to tell me what winter really is. The fact is, I live in LA and I've gone soft. I'm fine with that. LA has some of the worst traffic in all of the US (and maybe the world) we face earthquakes, raging fires, mudslides and pollution, the one thing we aren't supposed to be is cold. So why, pray tell, has it been in the 40s (Fahrenheit) at night? What's up with that? The days have been chilly by our standards as well. Normally, LA's cold spells are short lived but it's been a couple weeks of chilly, now. Granted, I did have the opportunity to wear my new cloche out these past couple of days, but that's little comfort for someone who no longer keeps a stock of good winter clothing.

It does appears that after today, the temperature will be slowly climbing back to the normal temps of the area. has us back at 70 by the end of the week.

Life is now officially back to "normal" and I'm headed to work. While I like my job, I definitely like vacation more.

These past couple of days, my knitting has been mostly focused on the soy silk project. I've completed the sleeves and have moved to the front and back piece. I suspect that blogable knitting will be minimal until I finish this up.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Don We Now Our Knit Apparel

Here is a picture of the cloche on because I really think that nothing looks the same sitting flat. Sorry that the image is mostly blown out but with the particular lighting, I could either give you a too dark hat or a too bright everything else. Since you see my silly mug all the time, I decided to adjust for the hat.

My mom posted a comment to the effect that the hat is nearly reversible and she is right. Except for the flowers, the hat could truly be worn inside out. The stripes are a little unique on the inside since it's in reverse STst, but that's no matter. The key though is making sure all your ends are woven in cleanly.

Well, my vacation is nearly over and I'm having trouble coming to terms with that. Going to bed at 3 AM and getting up at whenever o'clock has been a joy. We've done lots of little things that need to be done and still managed to be lazy about it. At least blogging will be more regular again.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Too Cloche for Comfort

Is there anything better than a bad pun? Don't feel obligated to answer that. It's a disease, like alcoholism or infomercial watching. Well, I've completed the cloche and for a winger of a pattern, I like it well enough. The brim ruffles, which is cute and interesting, though not exactly what I had planned. I like it on, though and will keep it but I'm going to try again, sometime in the future, with the lovely green Koigu that I have. Would you like to see some pictures? Vacation has me looking less than picture worthy, so, for now, we'll admire the piece flat. You can click either image for a larger view.

It's worked in three shades of Koigu, a deep eggplant, a variegated gray/purple/blue and a lovely sage green. I also have a few yellow glass beads that my mom gave me. Everything is knit, including the flowers. I used a technique similar to that found in the winter Vogue knitting. I found a similar pattern in one of my other knitting books so it appears to be an old technique, which means I should be able to include it in my pattern. The leaves are my own little design. The whole piece is worked on size US #2 needles, except for the large flower which uses two strands of yarn on size US #4 needles.

The brim is my favorite part, when I completed the main part of the hat, and was ready to start the brim, I worked one row where I knit and purl in every stitch. I moved all the purl stitches to a piece of waste yarn inside the hat. I worked the brim down from the knit stitches then put those stitches on waste yarn. I turned the hat inside out and worked the brim identically to the outer brim, working the last row of the inner brim in the main color of the hat. Then, I put the outer brim stitches back onto needles and worked a three needle bind off all the way around, catching the top and bottom brim each time. If you weave in most of your ends before then, they can all be threaded to end between the layers of the brim for a really clean finish.

With all that knitting content, you must know that some Panda content can't be too far behind.

This is what sharing a bottle of wine with Leo does to me. Can't you just see her saying: "Aw, Mom, I'm trying to sleep. Leave me alone."?


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