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February 15, 2006

More Reader Q&A (or "Yes, I am finally reading my email.")

(Part 37 in an ongoing series)

I promise this is not turning into some weird email-driven website, but I'm still in the happy-happy phase of having my email back and so on. If you emailed me something prior to... well, prior to probably last week and you never heard back, feel free to give me a holla (there I go with the ghetto slang! yo yo!) and please include your website address!! I have like two brain cells and can't remember my own website half the time.

It's rare that I actually ever catch up on anything, especially email, but I'm trying. (It would probably be easier and faster to actually write people back than to create all these damn links and picture-pop-ups, so uh. yeah. I may try that from now on.) I suck at basically all forms of correspondence, as I am a hermit in every sense of the word, however I am working on it and some time by the year 2017 I will be the penpal you can never get rid of. I will be blowin' up the email fo sho. (Also, keep in mind that this ghetto slang problem? Creeping into my daily lexicon. That's how I roll. SO WRONG.)


Dear Crazy Aunt Purl,
Happy Valentine's Day from thatfarmgirl and Henry!

[click pic for bigger]

Dear Farm Girl and Henry,
I need a dog!!

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Dear Crazy Aunt Purl,
You have inspired me to try the Magic Scarf. I just learned how to knit in January and I am OB-SESSED. I even have knitting dreams . . . dog has to go out, I say, “One more row.” And she pees on the floor. Anyhoo . . . I bought the Noro yarn (love it! I want to nuzzle it!) and I have a question. Did it really take just two skeins to knit nine feet of scarf? I don’t have any cool yarn stores in my area, so I order my yarn online. Small towns. *AND* did you use a row counter to keep track of your knitting? Am I that brain dead that I can’t keep track?

Thanks for the help. I need all I can get!

Hi Melissa!
I used Noro Big Kureyon for that nine-foot long monstrosity (that I foisted upon Drew when he was here visiting, hi Drew!). But for the other normal-sized scarf, in black regular Kureyon, it took me two skeins and it's perfect. I didn't use a row counter, I just guestimated after a while. I tried to be a real perfectionist with the knitting when I started, now I'm kind of like... eh. "It's handmade, part of its charm!" heh heh

Can't wait to see pics of your completed Magic Scarf!!

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Dear Aunt Purl,
I have a Knitting Question for you. I'm knitting in the round on DPN's (first stab at a sock). I'm doing K2 P2 ribbing, and while the stitches on what will be the outside of the sock look lovely, the knit stitches on the INSIDE of the sock are twisted. IE: as you look down the column of knitted stitches, the legs of each one twist to make the column of stitches look braided. Not an unpleasant look...but given that I am a sick and demented perfectionist, it bothers me. Can you tell me where I'm going wrong? It has to be something to do with the way I'm making my purl stitches when I do the P2 part of my K2P2 ribbing, right? I think that I'm just
generally purling wrong, because when I knit flat in stockinette, I have the same problem...all the stitches that I do on the purl row show up twisted. It's driving me bonkers!!

Take care,

Hi Shelby!
I have no idea on this one, but hopefully a reader can help you out. My guess is that if you have the same problem in flat stockinette knitting, there is something amiss with your purls. My favorite website for help on the fly is KnittingHelp.com, they have videos that show you how to do the fancy knitting. Check out the purling page for a look.

And hopefully someone will have insight they can post in the comments for you. Also, way to go on the sock knitting!!

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Ca va Crazy Aunt Purl!
I have a knitting question. I have just made a hat - and it's too damn big for my head! I don't get it. Do you know of anyway to shrink alpaca without felting it? I really love this stupid thing and want it to fit - but it won't be good all felted. Help?


Hi Mellie!
Unfortunately, I only know how to stretch stuff out, or felt it. But hopefully someone here can help you... I remember staring at the huge mushroom-head hat I made a while back and thinking, "Maybe I could sew it up?" but finally I just ripped it out and started again. So, so sad.

But alpaca! Yummy!

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Dear Laurie,
This is a picture of my house from the end of my driveway about 10 minutes ago. My DH must love me, since he painted my house Simply Coral with Cincinnatian Hotel Blue trim. And no, it's not blurry, it was blowing about 30 mph with snow. Also attached is the view from my house.
Trixie from Alaska

[click for bigger view!]

Dear Trixie,
I love your pink house!! The snow is scaring me a little bit, but that view is unbelievable. When can I come visit? (P.S. I am writing you back privately with the other info you asked for.)

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Hey Laurie, I've been lurking on your blog since last summer and I love it! This is actually a shameless plug/plea for help. Project "BUNDLE UP NEW ORLEANS" is collecting knit and crochet items for hurricane survivors here in New Orleans, and I was hoping that you could plug it on your blog. I live in New Orleans, and we could really use the help.


Kat Waller

Hi Kat!
No problemmo... I hope you get lots of happy homemade goodies for everyone. By the way, I had a dream the other night about crawfish etoufee and have not been able to get it out of my mind since!

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Dear Crazy Aunt Purl,
Thanks for your blog - It's good humor therapy for me. Because you say you can't resist a good pet photo - I've attached one. Also, if you or any of your readers want to send me a photo of their pet wearing a handknit - I would love to post them.
Kristi and Otis


Dear Kristi,
I support the Pets In Handknits movement! And I agree, more bloggers should post pictures of animals in handknits on a regular basis! Your Otis is so cute I could eat him up. Thanks for sharing!

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Hi Laurie,
I was hoping I could ask you for some travel advice. I've decided that I'll be using this years tax refund to travel abroad for the first time. I'm still undecided on the destination, but Ireland and France are both front runners. Could you recommend what websites are best to find cheap airfare and lodgings? Any other international travel suggestions? Thank you so much, I look forward to seeing what you recommend.

Dear Vanessa,
I am so glad you asked this!! I just recently discovered a travel search engine that I love love love. It's called Kayak.com, and you can do a regular travel fare search on their website OR you can do a Frappr-ized map-like search, where you basically say, "Hello, I have $500 and want to go somewhere in the world."

Try it:

Basic Kayak.com fare search
Fare Buzz: Cool Frappr-map-like travel search (So cool!)

Now, I don't think Kayak.com has the lowest fares, but it's a great place to poke around and the new map feature is awesome.

For really low fares, my favorite sites (in order of most-fav to least-fav) are:

1) CheapTickets.com
I buy from them more often than any other online ticketing agency. The site used to be more robust (I hated their last redesign) but they have great prices -- and you see the REAL price, including taxes and fees. You can also customize the homepage to display price alerts (I love that feature.)

2) Expedia.com
Easy-to-use, competitive prices, good service. I have used them many times with no problems. They also show the REAL price, which includes taxes and fees.

3) Orbitz
I like the Deal Detector, which can email you when prices are in the range you want -- you can also get this info displayed on the homepage when you log in. Best thing about Orbitz-- you can choose different departing and returning flights easier on this site than on others.

4) Travelocity -- Dream Maps area only
I'm not a huge fan of Travelocity (even though they have a traveling gnome) because the prices in your search don't reflect the REAL price (with taxes and fees) and also, I have never been able to successfully book their lowest advertised fare to anywhere. You get all through the process and suddenly "fares are not available." But I love their Dream Maps feature (which is buried deep in the site, a shame) because it's a visual representation of what's on sale. Love it!

Finally, here are some lesser-known travel search sites that I love using to contrast/compare prices and airlines:

And, finally, I never book a seat on a plane before checking with SeatGuru.com! Hope this helps, and have a fantastic time on your vacation!

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Dear Laurie,
Can I ask a pompom-related question? How did you make the cute floofy
pompom in this hat? I've just learned how to do cables, and made a cute cabled hat, and that pompom would only add to the cuteness...
Mary Ellen

Hi Mary Ellen!
Ok, keep in mind that I was still smoking at the time I made that hat. And I was on the bus and did not have a pom-pom maker. So, I wrapped the yarn around the pack of cigs (so. classy.) round and round. Then I slid the yarn off the package and tied a loose piece of yarn around the middle of the pile. In theory, you would snip the loopy ends off the yarn and fluff to make a pom-pom. But I liked the loopy look of it so much, I didn't trim the ends and it became one of my favorite pom-poms ever!

You could always use a piece of cardboard instead of a pack of cigs. Or, I also used my Susan Bates gauge measurer thingymajig recently, and it worked great for wrapping the yarn. Hope this helps!

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Reader Cathy asks: I just got a kitty and would love to crochet a Kitty Pi! Any word on a pattern yet? I've searched the web far-and-wide! Thanks for the great blog!

Hi Cathy! Laura posted her directions for a crocheted kitty pi in the comments section of this post (where her crocheted/felted kitty pi is pictured.)

Hope that helps! -- Laurie

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Question: OK, shopping at the Persian market is fun, but grocery stores are where guys practice some of their best pickup lines. Whatcha been hearin' at the Q Market?
-- From Tom. [Ed. note: Tom, please get a webpage.]

Glad you asked!
The Q Market, unbeknownst to me, turns into a disco or something at night, with really loud music. I only know this because I got off work late a few nights ago and planned to make a quickie detour to the Persian market for hummus and salad.

Much to my surprise, I pull into the parking lot and loud Persian disco-ish music is pouring out of the attached bookstore/record store. I was afraid to go in. I stood in the parking lot for a few minutes trying to envision a grocery store dance club. That was when a man who may or may not have been in the Persian Mafia asked me if I like to dance. "Well," I said, "the olives here are really good, but I didn't bring my dancing shoes."

He looked at me like I had grown a second head.
I went home.

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Question: I am starting a blog. Got any advice?

Answer: I'm not sure I am qualified to give advice when I don't actually write any of this -- Sobakowa The Cat is the mastermind here. But my advice would be to post lots of pictures! Because I am nosy and want to see your desk. And also, I would say if there were one cardinal rule of Writing Stuff Down, it would be ... write what you know. Which is apparently why I write about drunkenness and cat poop.

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Ok, this is long enough and I am officially exhausted. As is Franklin Delano Rosencat, who is worn out from the picture taking.


Posted by laurie at February 15, 2006 10:01 AM