Super Crank-y

In my last post I mentioned that I had purchased the Singer Knitting Machine. So here is my review:

I bought the Singer Knitting Machine for $22 from Walmart. It looks almost exactly like the Addi Express Knitting Machine – just differently colored and with differently styled feet. I needed to kick out some more scarves for the Box of Warm and use up some of my stash – so I decided to give the machine a go so I could go faster.

It comes with two options for knitting: Tube (round) and Flat (square) [there are symbols on the side of the machine to determine the knitting setting circle for tube/round and a square for knitting flat]. I’ve only used the Tube setting so far – and I didn’t have much luck my first go at flat.

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Thoughts: Not a bad little machine! Awesome for $22.
I read a lot of the reviews before I bought it and before I started, so to address some of the issues they found.

  • One video reviewer found it wobbly: My initial guess was that the legs might be made purposely two different lengths… two short for front and two longer for back – however, this is not the case as the legs are all the same length. My machine’s legs were wobbly out of the box and I found it was because of the mold lines of the plastic that run smack dab through the middle of the bottom of the foot. So, before I even attached them, I filed that line down smooth and had no wobbliness.20160930_0952412
  • Second, reviewers talked about how it shifts around as you crank since it doesn’t come with table clamps: if you hold one of the front left legs and brace the machine with the fingers on your left hand or your thumb as you hold it – you’re good to go.
  • Some reviewers found that it skipped stitches: watching them in their videos I think they were cranking too fast and too jerky. When I tried I found that if you cranked the machine like a music box/jack in the box (slow and steady) and had no stitches skipped. After some extensive use this is all I have discovered… the smaller the yarn weight, the better. Worsted is tough on this machine. Since the machine is a $22 machine and not super built there came a point where I would crank and it would make a grinding like noise and the needle ring would not move and if you force crank it the stitch will skip. I found out that it would happen at a certain spot every time- so I made a mark on the outside of the machine with a sharpie and the needle on the ring where it happens so that when it lines up and “catches” I do not crank but use my hand and manually move the needle ring past the line I drew and had no issues with cranking until it lines up again on the next round.20160930_0950512

One thing I had an issue with: The directions to remove the project from the machine. The directions tell you to crank the whole way around twice and it will fall off the needles – when you do this ALL THE STITCHES ARE LIVE AND OFF THE NEEDLES and the tiniest movement can start to unravel your project (which is why the directions will tell you to add more rows than needed for just this reason). There are directions for the Addi on the internet that show you how to bind off while your project is still on the machine – follow those or just be ready with the enclosed crochet hook or tapestry needle to gently catch the dropped stitches and bind off that way.

 

Was it worth $22? Definitely, I’ve made 10 scarves this way so far and put a nice little dent in part of my stash and filled up the Box of Warm by a nice chunk. I haven’t been too adventurous with the machine – but that’s mainly because I am afraid of breaking it and I bought it specifically to make scarves. I think going in, knowing what issues I might encounter beforehand and adjusting before I began made it a lot easier. For real though, I made six scarves in a day, a feat I would never have been able to accomplish before.

How are the instructions? They’re… okay. When I pulled the booklet out I was excited since it was thicker than I had anticipated it was going to be; I honestly I expected a big folded piece of paper with some directions a la boxed hair color. However, only about three pages are instructions- the other pages are those same instructions in other languages. It says that it gives patterns… and it kind of does in that it gives you general instructions like crank a tube for a scarf until it’s a long as you want or for a hat make three flat knit rectangles and sew them together. I found YouTube videos a little more instructive. Again, in this instance, having watched a lot of review videos on YouTube I knew what to expect before starting so I was able to jump start on using it.

Overall? Get it. It’s a fun little machine if you know it’s going to be a little finicky at the get go and adjust beforehand. Make sure you get the NKOK/newer version- Singer previously released one where it had no legs/feet and basically looked like a mini version of those machines they use to wrap Christmas Trees in netting for transport, and I’ve found nothing but reports of heartache in regards to that model.

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You can knit tiny nets for tiny Christmas trees!

 

Final Thoughts? I saw in a few videos that users were worried about yarn tension. I watched their fixes which showed them holding the yarn with the non-cranking hand to keep tension. I started with that, but I will honest in that I think that is what caused my machine to start “skipping” and “catching” after extensive use. Even the yarn coming from the center of a store bought skein seems too tight. So I wind my yarn in to cakes and pull out long lengths and let the machine handle the tension until the cake is loose and then stop pulling and let the machine do the pulling of the yarn. Don’t use worsted on it. I did it once and won’t again because it was too rough on the machine- stick to your smaller weights. I haven’t tried buying clamps at Home Depot to clamp it to my desk yet – but I think I might to free up my hand which I’ve been using to steady the machine while I crank. I might also buy some non skid padding to cut and glue to the bottom of the feet for extra non skiddyness. Again – even with all that it is still a value at $22.

Cranking It Out

Every year I do the thing, the Box of Warm thing, where I make a bunch of stuff for a literal box in my home (scarves, gloves, hats, etc) so I have a huge stockpile of warm just waiting for someone to need it. My kids have raided it a bunch, my nephews, my kids’ friends, my nephews’ friends, my mom. Sometimes I make things with specific people in mind- usually I don’t- just whatever I feel like doing.

Today is an exciting day- today I receive a knitting machine. Not a big fancy one on which I could do sweaters or blankets- but a small one. My Singer Knitting Machine is being delivered today and I’m super excited – I haven’t been this excited for a knitting tool since the Ball Winder Attacks of 2006.

How could you not be excited? You crank and it knits.

I made sure to get the newer version – which looks exactly like the Addi Express Knitting Machine – just with different legs and color scheme. I even made sure to watch a couple of unboxings for it- which the few different videos I’ve watched the unboxer adds the legs and the Singer machine wiggles – which leads me to wonder if the legs are a slightly different length (shorties in front/longies in back and the directions don’t mention it) – I’ll let you know once it gets here.

The Plan: once I get the machine going to just feed my extra non fancy yarn stash through it and get scarves a plenty. If it’s easy enough I’ll get the boys to join in. I only paid $20 for the thing, so if it doesn’t work out well I’m not out the $100+ the Addi would have cost me.

Now – it’s just the waiting- and that is the hardest part.

 

Magic Balls!

I have been knitting for some time now,and I knew about Magic Balls. If you don’t know what a Magic Ball is, it’s basically all those little leftover bits of yarn combined in to one giant FrankenBall.

But no one likes FrakenBalls.

This is why I went with Magic. I used the Russian Join to combine all the yarns  because I like that the ends are pretty much already woven in.

This difficulty is finding what to do with the Magic Balls once you’ve combined them. Me, I just went with very simple crocheted cowls/infinity scarves. Chain 27, then 2 for turning and DC across the row, chain 2 for turning and DC across… repeat. Nothing fancy since the yarn changes colors.

It’s been a fun little pallet cleanser whenever I need a break from knitting. I highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it.

BAMF Chart for King Falls AM

I listen to a podcast called King Falls AM. I love it, really. Give it a listen! I made a chart inspired by one of the episodes where a character’s wallet that says BAMF on it is stolen. Here is a chart to add BAMF to whatever you want to flaunt that you to are a Bad Ass Mot-

BAMF

You Gotta Fight, For Your Right… To Be Treated As An Equal Human – Wall of Text Post

Reading the posts from the past year – you’ll certainly notice that I mentioned my second job a lot, the one where I kept time and scores for hockey.

As you’ll read in those posts, I loved that job, I really did.

Then, things changed.

You probably wouldn’t be surprised if I told you that I was the only woman who worked there. Hockey is filled mainly with men, and the staff was pulled from people who frequented there often, so it was more than likely that it would be male dominated. That’s cool though- I didn’t hate that. Except for having the saltiest of saltiest mouths, hockey players are generally awesome people to be around.

The hours were… okay. Friday nights were no trouble at all since my day job is a M-F 9-5er. I also worked Monday nights, which were a little tougher. I started working Monday nights because there is a singular full time employee- the rest of us were part time- and he would work more than 40 hours a week. So I would come in and work most of Monday night – but I couldn’t work past 11pm since I have to get up at 5am for work the next day. I always made it very clear – my day job pays twice as much an hour as the hockey job; the hockey job was always just for a little extra pocket money. So the full time employee would leave when I got there – take most of the night off and then come back for the last hour, after which he would stay later in to the night doing projects he thought up.

This is how it worked for a while.

Part of the job of the time keepers is to keep stats for the games (attendance of players, points, assists, empty netters, penalties, etc) and enter them in to the computer which then gets posted to the site. You don’t get trophies or awards for singular stats at this rink, only “winner” t shirts if your team wins the season, but people like showing off their stats and knowing where they stand with other players and divisions. Entering in the stats doesn’t take long, per se, but it does take time. I was told when I was hired that you MUST enter in the time sheets for the games you work, so I always did because it was part of the job.

That’s where we get to the sticky bit.

There was a Monday when I came in and the Full Time Employee (we’ll just call him FTE) asked if I could enter stats for him from the weekend since it was really busy and he couldn’t get to them. I said sure. Understand though that he works the WHOLE weekend so that is anywhere from 20 to more games that he did not enter the stats for. It takes me 30 minutes to do my usual four games for an evening, to give you some time frame. So I did it, I entered the stats because I like to think I am a nice person and wanted to help out.

Then he started leaving me ALL of his stat sheets… every Monday.

What started as a helpful favor became an expected duty from someone who is not my manager. So I contacted the Boss and I mentioned it. It stopped for a bit, but then he started leaving me the score sheets again. I would move them to the side and leave them in a pile- not touching them- because they are not mine. Then I would find the pile left for me at my next shift. So I contacted the Boss again, and once more it stopped-

-then the FTE decided to stop coming in on Mondays for that last hour so that I would end up leaving at 1am to get up the next day at 5am for my real day job.

So I complained once more to the Boss, and there was a meeting. Boss decided since FTE is the main employee (and claims he is super busy) I would have to enter his weekend games… but only for Saturday- one of the other employees would take Sunday’s score sheets (we’ll call him G).

When I started there, there were 8 employees (not including refs). Now there were 3- me, FTE, and G. The other five employees quit, and I was starting to see the reasons why. I started talking to the people who used to work there (since they still played there) and am informed that most of them quit because they were tired of working with the FTE. It figures.

Then Christmas came, and the rink throws a holiday employee party. It’s the FTE’s job to make sure that everyone knows about the party- so naturally, I did not get invited. People who used to work there years before were invited, but I was not, and I even saw him that day at the rink.

I brought this up to the Boss as well, and got an apology- but it was already heading downhill from there.

G, the other employee there, was fired for allegedly stealing wheels from the proshop (that you are also expected to work while there). A few days after he was fired, the wheels he supposedly took reappeared in the sales case. They weren’t even wheels he uses. So now the rink was down to two employees- FTE and me.

So then things went back to me being left the entirety of the weekend’s games to enter in to the score system on Mondays. Here’s the thing… the FTE sits at the time keeping desk WITH A LAPTOP CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET while he is working- reading articles, watching YouTube videos, and reading facebook. When I am time keeping I use the wifi to enter the stats in to the rink’s system… on my phone. I am finding it hard to believe that he can’t do it with his laptop- RIGHT THERE. Then FTE starts not doing his half of the cleaning duties – he’s supposed to get inside the glass and I the outside. However, if you wash the outside and the inside is still gross it looks like you did nothing. I got in trouble with the Boss- I started doing both.

Then I started to get really really resentful. G was never treated this way, until he was fired. Neither were the Ks (there were two of them) or S or M. G never had to enter FTE’s stats, because once Boss had decided it would be split up between me and G,  FTE just entered his own stats. The difference being with all those other letters and me – they were male, and I was not.

Then, one day, Boss texts and asks if I can work one of FTE’s nights. I text back “No”. Then explain that since FTE stopped coming in on Monday nights that I only get 4 hours of sleep before my day job the next day, then I’d be working my day job where I need to super alert to catch mistakes -BECAUSE THAT IS MY ACTUAL JOB… MISTAKE CATCHING – only to come back to work second job again until 1am and get another 4 hours of sleep before the next day of my mistake catching job. I wouldn’t be getting a whole night’s worth of sleep in 3 days. Boss has trouble understanding this through text so I call- better communication for everyone.

Then begins the argument.

Boss tries to convince me to work. I restate why I cannot. I mention to Boss that computer in office is no longer connecting to the internet so that I can enter scores – and that is hasn’t been working for some time, so I’ve been using my phone. Boss then switches up topics to just score sheets. I reiterate that the arrangement is unfair because FTE has a laptop with him and I am using my phone and that it is unreasonable to expect me to enter all those score sheets on my phone when he is perfectly capable of entering his stats right there… on his laptop. Then Boss says that I am to do what I am told to do because Boss is the Boss and I am the employee.

So I quit.

I quit, this job was always just a pocket money job for me- I don’t need it and now I don’t want it. Boss starts yelling, I yell back my goodbyes and hang up.

Listen… I was told there was an expectation of every employee there to do their jobs, but not everyone was. I was told that these were the expected duties, but it was really only expected from me. If everyone was expected to do this or that, then everyone should- not just me. Because for all of this, FTE was making a little less than what I make at my day job – while I was getting $9 an hour- and the FTE (who was making more than me) was leaving me, the lesser paid employee, all of his work to do so that he could just hang out and do nothing for $$$ while I did everything for $. That is not okay. If Boss had offered more $$$ then I would have stopped complaining- but no, Boss does not want to spend more money, not on me anyway. That is fine, that is Boss’ right as Boss- just as it is my right as employee to decide not to work there anymore… which I decided.

I really did like that job, and I would have liked it a lot more if I had been treated fairly. However, if you know you aren’t being treated as you should… you leave because no one will care about you- like you will.

 

 

 

 

Wooden Nickels and People Ashes

I updated my last post with the astonishing fact a geocache I had found contained the ashes of someone’s dearly departed mother… you know, in case you missed it. Otherwise things have been busy here at Chez Stephieface. When I have down time, I’ve been woodburning more wooden nickels to leave behind in geocaches…

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Basically I free hand sketch the design on the wood and burn it in- voila!

It’s Like A Treasure Hunt – But Not

Last year, the kiddos and I started Geocaching. If you don’t know what that is, please refer to the title -or- you can go the Geocaching website (where they have lots of info, videos, etc). It’s something we do when people are bored and aren’t really feeling being indoors.

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Basically, you get general coordinates and area from the website (which also has a free version app) and you set off to that place to find “the cache”. It can be an old Altoids tin, camera film canister, magnetic key holder, plastic container… really they are all just as varied as people are. They are even some super tiny ones:

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You find the cache, write your name on the paper log, then log your find on the site. Easy peasy.

Some of the caches are even big enough that you can trade out stuff. Sometimes geocachers will leave little toys and trinkets for trade in the caches, there are even trackables- which are items that you remove from that cache and leave in another and its movements can be tracked from the site.

It’s undeniable that the stash caches are the kids’ favorite ones- so I generally carry a small box with me of things for trade just for that eventuality. Mostly they are small things, and usually things that I myself made like friendship bracelets, wooden beads that I have scratched designs in to, and wooden geocaching coins. There are a few non crafted things in there like a coin from England, a silver ring, and a set of 15mm tall miniatures of children (which I scored for a dollar from my local warhammer store and are about as tall as the metal part of a pencil) which I may or may not paint obnoxious colors.

Today I’ve been working on wooden geocaching coins… which are just wooden nickel blanks that I burn designs on to.

They aren’t intricate works of art – but I like them.

So, if you get the inclination – try it out- you might find yourself in places you didn’t know were there- plus, who doesn’t like hunting for treasure…

 

ETA: 2/22/16

So Sammy and I went geocaching on Sunday around the area and in one of the geocaches… the ashes of a once living person! Craziness!

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I Thought I Was Dying On Monday

I currently work two jobs (that aren’t wife-ing or mothering). One is at a roller hockey rink (a haunted roller hockey rink) and the other is for a health insurance company. At the insurance job, it is my responsibility to review processes completed by the company for government compliance.

It was the insurance job that caused me to believe that I was dying on Monday. I honestly believed that I might be having a heart attack or stroke of some sort; I am not kidding, this is not a ‘I could not even… ‘ – I, for honest to goodness, thought that job had stressed me out so badly that I was dying.

I have worked for this company for going on eight years now, and held a few positions there and I can sum up the experience in a single phrase … It Is The Worst. Recently I was transferred from a team where I enjoyed the work I was doing, to another team without any transition. It was “Starting Monday you are on X team” due to company realignment. Now, it is my responsibility to work the most soul killing work imaginable.

I am getting long winded though – just know that everything sucks. Having to deal with the people I do, I ended up with the following:

  • My eye felt like it swelled, popped out of the socket, and had a heart beat of its own
  • I turned red and hot
  • I couldn’t breathe
  • My knuckles turned white
  • I wanted to yank the phone from the wall and throw it, then break my cubicle walls, and then maybe throw a car

Okay, so maybe I wasn’t dying so much as I was hulking out- and like Bruce Banner I am always angry.

 

 

Don’t Worry, The Ghosts Didn’t Get Me

Things have been pretty busy… work, work, hockey, kids hockey, housework… I feel like everything is behind- I have dust Brontosauruses roaming beneath my furniture and in my hallways.

But I have been crafting!

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And of course, Christmas and Christmas Swaps.

The New Year has begun and I’ve decided on my resolution; it won’t be to lose weight or to stop a bad habit. My resolution will be to clear out the WIP box of unfinished projects before the Year ends… that should be easy … should be.

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