Friday, March 14, 2008

D is for Dork

So my parents are coming into town to visit on Monday and I find myself thinking "it's a good thing my brother can pick them up because I don't want to miss my kickball game." In case you're wondering, you didn't read that wrong - I play kickball and I'm proud of it! In fact, this is the fourth season that I've been playing kickball with the local division of the World Adult Kickball Association (aptly known as WAKA).

It seems that people think of kickball as something fun they used to do, or something they hated playing for fear of being picked last for the team. Either way, it's a memory of being about 5 years old. For me, I grew up in England and kickball isn't a game that British kids played back then so the concept of taking up the sport at my age was nothing if not wildly amusing.

So, what is adult kickball like you ask? Here's the lowdown.

I'm part of the team "Rhino Stampede" - which is essentially a bunch of people from my work who are truly united in geekhood through our kickball team. We play once a week at a local rec. center with the 15 other teams in our local division. Some of these teams take the game way more seriously than they should, and somewhat scare me with their overzealous nature, armed with banners and guerrilla tactics. We on the other hand are usually armed with matching stripy socks and a Rhino head (not a real one). Each game is 5 innings and there are 11 players fielding each inning, with a minimum of 4 females fielding at all times. Outside of that, standard kickball rules apply...

(Yes, I know you're trying to remember if kickball actually has rules, but I can assure you that it does).

We're about to go into the 3rd week of this season with my team, Rhino Stampede, a stunning 2 and 0, ranked a somewhat amazing 2nd with 17 runs scored in the last two games. This is quite the improvement considering at the start of last season, the kickball pundits were saying other teams must be really bad if we're able to beat them. We eventually ended last season in the final four due to vast improvements in our game and a rather shocking game of rock, paper, scissors (you think I would joke about something like that?!)

So, now you know my dirty little kickball secret, you'll be seeing updates on how the team is doing over the weeks. If you're feeling the need to revisit your childhood, go to and see if there's a division near you!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Internet yarn...behold the beauty, but beware!

I recently found an independent source for yarn online, which came about as a result of my recent enjoyment of making socks. I originally ordered from Julia's Yarn on her eBay store, but then discovered that she has stores on Etsy and also her own website, with some incredibly beautiful and very reasonably priced sock yarn. Just a couple of weeks ago, she was having a sale which allowed me to purchase enough yarn to make a dozen pairs of socks for the remarkable price of $36. I've been knitting it up and love how it's looking!

While I recommend this yarn and seller 100% (good customer service, fast shipping, great prices, beautiful yarn etc.) I have been reading that some people believe there is no place for this seller, who falls more into the mass produced/supplies category, in the handcrafted world of Etsy. While I can certainly understand that argument, up until the point when Etsy completely separates the handcrafted items from the supplies (including jewelry supplies, cardstock etc.) widely offered on the site, I don't know if it is fair for a store such as this to be singled-out and flagged for exile. I definitely sympathize with the indie yarn dyers who can't compete with more wholesale prices but I don't know if that's the fault of this seller or those who are in charge of Etsy and must regulate the site accordingly. Whether or not the seller belongs on Etsy, I will be purchasing from her again as I believe she has a good product.
Meanwhile, I was lurking around the forums on Ravelry and have been made aware of what is possibly the strangest tale of yarn woes ever heard. The story involves an indie yarn dyer, Mystical Creation Yarns (MCY), who used to sell on eBay and Etsy and based on the information that I have been reading seems to have faked her own death (at least online). It would seem that MCY started off as an amazing store offering beautiful hand-dyed yarn for great prices. However, as time went on, things went downhill. There are apparently hundreds of people who have purchased yarn from MCY and either never received it, ended up with something not at all like their order, or got a yarn that wasn't dye-set and would bleed. In the last few months, amidst a series of complaints to PayPal for refunds, the BBB and other organizations, some buyers started receiving e-mails from apparent family members related to the owner of MCY claiming that the owner is in hospital with leukemia. There was news of a fire sale for the yarn that was "sitting around" while she is in hospital, even though there were so many orders previously made that were not being fulfilled. As of last week, the owner apparently passed away - even though there are reports of people having seen or spoken with her in the last few days and it's widely believed that she has faked her own death in order to get out of her responsibilities. It's even been reported that she is creating a new online yarn store under a different name.

Fortunately, I never purchased yarn from this online seller but whether or not the death was "faked", I am horrified by the lack of consideration that this yarn seller had for her customers far before the reported illness. For the last couple of years, this person has been taking the money from people who just want to create with something beautiful and has stolen that money and turned it into an ugly fiasco. There are thousands of trustworthy online sellers out there and being ripped off by one can make buyers wary of buying from independent online stores.

My understanding is that at this time, MCY is being investigated by the FBI internet crimes division, who will surely get to the bottom of this. I am waiting with baited breath to hear of some resolution and will of course pass on any information that I gather! In the meantime, if you have been ripped off by this seller, I'm happy to put you in touch with someone from the MCY "support group" that has been forming on Ravelry who can tell you where to file the appropriate complaint forms.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A new obsession!

Since learning to knit, and especially since joining Ravelry, I have heard about knitters who love to knit socks. I'd always wondered a little about this - why the sock obsession? Granted, sock yarns are available in completely wonderful colors, but I don't understand that concept of spending $20+ on yarn to make a pair. Perhaps it's because I'm someone who doesn't wear socks all that much anyway.

At the Super Bowl weekend yarn sale at my local yarn store, Unwind, in Burbank, CA, there was some very pretty sock yarn on sale for $2.50/skein so I thought I'd give it a try. All the other knit projects I've been working on recently have been quite labor intensive, so I decided to go for socks as a smaller, quicker project. I made a super cute pair of socks over the course of the next few days and, as if I needed a new thing to obsess over, I now realize what all the fuss is about! They're cute, comfortable and fun to make.

While I still don't think I could shell out a ton of money on sock yarn, no matter how gorgeous it is, I think that being on the hunt for inexpensive but nice sock yarn may be a new mission for me!