Posts Tagged ‘praying mantis’

I am an Election Judge

Twice every two years, I spend a day at the polls, helping my fellow citizens to do their part to ensure the continuation of democracy.  Yesterday I acted as a ‘check in’ judge in Maryland’s primary elections.  It makes for a very long day.  I got in at six in the morning, the polls opened at seven and closed at eight, and verification of results and integrity, and clean up, were finally finished at nine.

Mind you, this was for the primaries.  In an overwhelmingly Democratic district.  A district which encourages early voting and mail in voting.  We handled 316 voters all day.

As you can imagine, I got a lot of knitting done.  A lot of reading as well (a book of Neil Gaiman short stories I got for my birthday) and catching up with my fellow judges, most of whom have worked this precinct for three or four cycles at least. The elderly couple who said last cycle was their last was back.  They seem to be doing better health wise, and Maryland always needs more Republican judges.  The young lady with the thing for pink – she got married over the summer.

It’s always interesting.  This year was particularly so, because the elementary school we were using is in the midst of rather extreme renovations. We asked the construction workers to take down the bar between the double doors to make sure that we were wheelchair accessible (they put it up again when we closed the polls).  I didn’t even know they could do that.  The woman who suddenly decided that she had changed her party affiliation a week ago but ‘it hadn’t gone through’ because she wanted to vote in the Republican primary was given a provisional ballot.  If they find her ‘lost’ paperwork I’m sure it will get counted, otherwise, probably not.  There was also a Republican who was bothered that we didn’t ask for his identification.  I explained that we had never had a case of two people claiming to be the same voter at this precinct, and he seemed surprised.  We agreed that Marylanders ‘are just better’.  Seriously, half the precinct goes to church with the ‘Queen Bee’  judge, and most of the rest were neighbors of one of the other judges.

People’s reactions to me knitting were interesting, and universally positive.   The Provisional judge (who handled the last-minute Republican) had an ‘oh, yea, I should have brought mine!’ reaction (she made a lot of headway through her murder mystery though).  One of the judges from the other precinct which meets in the school brought a project as well.  One voter told me his wife has just learned, and that he thought there was something addictive about it (I agreed).  Only one voter confused the knitting with crochet.  I told the story of why I was knitting the blanket a couple of times, and got to explain the process of double knitting a few times as well.  Dozens of compliments on the colors and the piece as a whole.  Did wonders to my ego.

Anyway, we locked up around 9.  I thought I’d be ‘clever’ and cut across the dimly lit maze of ‘portables’ which surround the school to get to the parking lot where my car was (we’d moved them so that voters had easier access).  By the time I got home it was nearly ten.  A long day indeed.

FO Highlight

Mom loves her mantis (I knew she would).  Now we just have to hope it doesn’t become a very complicated cat-toy…

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Simply Sockupied giveaway or the iMake Toft’s Pattern Book giveaway. I entered a poem in According to Matt’s Y.A.R.N giveaway (April 15).

Read Full Post »

Some friends are expecting their first baby this spring.  I had already made a baby hat, but haven’t given it to them yet.  My husband heard the mother-to-be talking about a handknit baby blanket which her grandmother made years ago, and how much she wished she had more like it (with a lament about how people don’t ‘do that anymore’ I believe) he made a point of steering my knitting in that direction.  Since I’ve just finished the Mantis it was time to buy yarn anyway, so that’s the next project.


I rarely work the same pattern more than once, but on occasion I come back to something.  I’ve crochetted two or three of Betty Saxon and Luana Nelson’s Dragon, all but one pre-ravelry days. I will quite possibly come back this critter. (I think my Mother-in-Law might need one).

I made Knitty’s version of the Hoover Blanket, doll sized, two and a half years ago, using Lion Brand Homespun.  It was a doll blanket for my niece.  I liked it, but didn’t find it particularly interesting to knit, and I wasn’t happy with the yarn choice.  Homespun is a fun yarn.  I love the softness, the interest, and the price, but it’s a bit overwhelming for some projects.

So it’s the Hoover again. This time in sport weight yarn, in baby-pale colors.

I got a gauge of 22 st/4″, so I cast on 121.  17st for the border left 87 to double knit.  I opted for three blocks of 29 stitches, which I will pattern in various pastel ways.  Five rows of blocks ought to do it, I think.   We’ll see how fast I can work this baby up…

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Bernat Mosaic giveaway.  That’s OK, because I entered the Knit a While giveaway for “Knitting With the Color Guys” by Kaffe Fasset (deadline April 6), and the Lion Brand ‘most meaningful handmade gift‘ contest (April 16)

Read Full Post »

Mom’s Mantis


He’s not quite stable enough to stand on his hind four legs, but he’s pretty cute nonetheless.

Celeena Cree Creations

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, Celeena Cree Creations is offering a free pattern to social networkers who post about her etsy shop, she’s also giving free patterns away with any purchase.  Here’s my take on it, if you decide to follow suit, be sure to contact her through her shop or on Ravelry, where she’s known as SwitchCleo.

Here’s a sample of her knitted creations, this adorable little alien just sort of calls out to sit on your keyboard, doesn’t he?  She’s got a bunch of these little guys, as well as some really nice beadwork earrings.  She has a lot of bead earrings up as well.  The rainbow turtle in particular is jaunty and fun.

Her prices are very reasonable, everything I saw was under $10 US, and many items are less than $5.  Please check it out.

Yarn Lover’s Bumper Sticker

Some of you may recall that I won the drawing for a yarn themed bumper sticker from Diary of a Smart Chick:

She sent me two copies of this sticker, one of which has a home somewhere much more interesting than the back of my car:

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win a pattern from Classic Cable Knits from Small Things. I did enter the Goodknits yarn giveaway (April 2) and the  Yarn Madness giveaway (deadline April 10) – the entry involves posting a picture of the prize choices, so here it is:

Read Full Post »

Here’s some more detail on the assembly of mantis limbs.  The first trick was to work the ‘chenille stems’, i.e. pipe cleaners, down to the very tip of the whip stitched end.  This was a bit tricky, and would have been much more frustrating if I didn’t have a pair of needle nosed pliers on hand.  The jewelry making tool set I have served me in good stead here.

I probably could have gotten away with just the pipe cleaners, but since I already had the 16 gauge copper wire, which I had used on the legs before, I added that as well.  This makes the pincers as strong as the legs are.  I’m planning to use the wire (but not the pipe cleaners) as a backbone for the body as well.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Ravelry book giveaway, and Cincinnati has guaranteed that I can’t win the March Madknits yarn giveaway.  On the other hand, I joined the Simply Sockupied Yarn Giveaway from knitting daily (30 March), and the Fandom Yarn giveaway from bluetooth toaster (8 April), and a pattern from Classic Cable Knits (26 March)

Read Full Post »

I haven’t wound the brown skein of Cascade 220 into a ball for the Mantis yet.  Instead I’ve been merrily knitting away on the green bits.  Click on the picture at left for a (much) larger image, showing the stitch texture and the sheen of the yarn.

I’m currently ‘stuffing’ the legs, which means whip stitching them closed over both chenille stems and the 16 gauge copper wire I mentioned before.  I’m liking the results both for texture and stability, and holding the two together while I stitch is much easier than trying to ‘thread’ them through the finished legs would be. The same method would probably work really well for flower stems, should I ever be so inclined.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

Didn’t win the Patons Divine. I entered A Year at the Wheel’s March Giveaway (31 March) for a couple of skeins of Knitpicks Suri Dream.  She’s also got fiber up for grabs, but I’m so slow at spinning…  I also signed up for another Phat Fiber giveaway, this one for Wandering Wool sock yarn. (26 March) Not a blog contest, but Celeena Cree Creations Etsy story is giving away free patterns to people who blog about their store.

Read Full Post »


After reading through the Ravelry notes, I’ve picked up some 16 gauge copper wire for my mantis.  I also got a set of beading pliers and cutters and some stretchy beading cord.  I decided not to get the aluminum or silicone jump rings this time.  I’m holding off on another row counter until I can get hold of number beads, but one is in the future I do believe.

Past Projects

As I mentioned in an earlier post on Where’s George I had been having a little bit of trouble with the currency tracking project.  I invested in a couple more stamps, and got some less beaten up bills, and it’s going much better now.  At least, it’s going better when judged by the clarity of my stamps.  I’m still not getting a great record for actually tracking currency.

In Other Blogs

Vanessa has posted about an awesome Oriole FO, and how hard it can be to accept compliments.  In Cast-On, Brenda brought my attention to the Government Free VJJ Campaign. This led to some interesting conversation with DD#2, who is a bit of a prude at times.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

No news on the  Countess Ablaze yarn drawing yet.  The name the button contest has been extended until the 22nd.  I’ve entered the Ravelry library tour giveaway for 25 books (22 March deadline), and I’ve filled out my bracket for the March Madknits giveaway, and now that play has started I can say with some confidence that I’ve found my place in the middle of the pack.  I’ve also entered the All Free Crochet Bernat Mosiac giveaway (deadline March 28) as well as Truly Myrtle’s  homemade handbag giveaway. (March 23) and Phat Fiber’s Dawning Dreams spindle giveaway (March 26)

Read Full Post »

I had so much fun making the hermit crab for my friend Colleen that I just had to play around with a couple more of these little guys.   So now that he’s done there are a couple more knit amigurumi in the pipeline.  So I suppose it’s time to do a book review.

The Book

The source book for these little guys is “Amigurumi Knits” by Hansi Singh.  As I said before, these projects are all skill enhancing, they work on middling small needles with worsted weight yarn, and there’s plenty of fiddly bits involved. There are lots of different processes covered here, in a great deal of detail.  As I mentionGutsy Wormed before, there is only one type of short rows detailed, and no description of kitchener for ribs, but that’s actually a pretty minor issue.

All of the patterns are written for smooth yarns in worsted weight, but it’s not actually that hard to use something with a little bit more interest to it.  Here is my go at the Earthworm, which I knit up in two days using some of my own (rather primitive) handspun yarn.  I think he turned out just fine, although he’s definitely more ‘fuzzy’ than slimy looking.   I’m giving him to my mother for her birthday.

The earthworm is one of the easier patterns in the book, it being a straightforward matter of short rows and grafting.  The hermit crab, which also involves picked up stitches, ‘chenille stems’ and sewing several parts together is labeled as being more challenging.  It was certainly more time consuming, but doable.  I’ve just started my third knitted amigurumi project, the praying mantis, which is listed as the most difficult project of the three.  We’ll see how he comes along.

I’d recommend this book for the adventurous knitter who wants to focus on small projects and who thinks that realistic, multi legged (or leggless) critters can be beautiful (or at least cute) too.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I entered a drawing for 3 skeins of Patons Divine Yarn from All Free Crochet Afghan Patterns. (20 March)  One for the Munchkinland Socks pattern and skein – believe me, the pattern is every bit as exciting as the sock yarn.  I also joined a name the button contest at Nichols Buttons (deadline 18 March)

Read Full Post »