I forgot to say yesterday that I also devoted time on Sunday to getting a handle on doing a consistent continental purl. I turned to a favorite knitting resource, knittinghelp.com. Here is a link to the page of videos on purl stitch techniques. Perhaps necessity is the mother of invention, or maybe it is just luck, the wedding gift blanket has a lot of purling, and so I've been able to practice my technique. I don't think what I'm doing can completely be called a continental purl because I'm not wrapping the yarn around my finger extra times to maintain tension. I don't do this with my continental knit stitches either. I can see that I seem to be getting much closer to the same tension now on my knit and purl rows in stockinette stitch (my English style purls were looser than my continental knits, you know, no so you would notice, but I knew).
I really can't post without a picture. (We'll see how long that lasts...) So here is a "picture" of the wedding gift blanket.
I'm 60% finished! Three horizontal patterns down, two to go. Perhaps I should be working on other projects that have sooner due dates, but after the recent bout of craft dis-pleasure, it feels good to be getting along on something.
Baby Octopus with Noodles
I spent yesterday up in Oakland with my friend Amynta while our guys were on a fishing trip. I did about 1 inch on my wedding gift blanket and provided moral and technical support to my friend while she finished a Hansi Singh octopus that I helped her start on a Yosemite camping trip in 2010. Hansi's patterns are challenging, but so worthwhile. I credit them with bringing my own knitting skills along much faster than I think they would have otherwise progressed. They use every shaping and grafting technique in the book, and at the end you have a lovely little toy.
I won't post pictures of the wedding gift blanket, maybe some close ups in a little while, but here's a picture of what it looked like when I took it apart the first time. Perfect may be the enemy of the good, but I can't knit what I don't enjoy, as should surely be apparent from yesterday's post.
I'm posting this picture to emphasize that I take every project apart at least once. I'm just going to have to learn to celebrate that fact, cause it's reality.
Highs and Lows/Photo Smorgasbord
This blog has been silent for a little while, while I try to figure out what to do with it. I've decided that an exercise in daily writing is a good way to get out of this indecisive phase, and as an example, the following is writing from Friday night and Saturday night. I've thrown in some photos of finished items for the last little bit of time to keep things light :) Each photo is linked to the pattern if you're interested. Here we go...
Oh my gosh, knitting frustration! I have at least 9 work-in-progress projects going on right now. And I don't want to work on any of them. Is the solution to start a new project? It certainly seemed hopeful. The first project I tried to start called for size 13 circular needles. I checked, and I have no regular set of 13 circulars. I have two interchangeable needle sets, one of which goes up to size 11, and the other one does have size 13s. Good news, except that I only have the shortest cable available for that set. It is 9:30 pm at this point, so I can't run to the store. Husband points out that I could order another large cable. This wouldn't help me in the moment, but, I tell myself, I can endure this crazy for a few more days, so I order one from Amazon. But I still want to knit to relax and I still don't want to work on any of my current projects.
Maybe I could start something else that is ready to go. Maybe a hat that I bought the yarn for last Christmas. Let's see, that wants size 10 double pointed needles. I don't have those, but I can come up with two size 10 circulars on the short cables between the two interchangeable sets. Let me just check gauge before I'm off and running on this... oh, I have 8 stitches per inch instead of the 6 required by the gauge. And, the fabric already seems like it is too loose, and when you stretch it, you can see through the "holes", no good for a hat. Going up in needle size to get the right gauge would make the fabric even looser. Could I hold two strands of the yarn together? Yes, but then I wouldn't have enough yarn to finish the project, and this yarn is actually discontinued I've had it in my stash for so long.
Hm, maybe I should start some complicated doily, because I finally have some size 30 thread. No, I know that is a bad idea for what is now 10 pm. I'll just work on this reversible project that I started in 2009 and picked up again recently. It is a little tedious because there are so many stitches per row, but it has a certain appeal. You know, after the gauge being so off on that hat, maybe i should just check it on this for a lark. Oh, I'm 2 stitches off on the vertical and horizontal gauge, oh, and I also just learned a much prettier way to join the sides. So, I guess I should take it apart? but each row takes around 20 min. I don't want to take it apart, but on the other had, I still have much further to go on the project than I've already gone.
After a morning of continuing to bemoan my situation, I awoke from a nap to a mail delivery of the most lovely Icelandic yarn from a friend who just came back from a trip.
The colors are beautiful and the sentiment is charming. Alright, I'm feeling better. I planned to go to a bagpipe jam session with my husband that night, and had thought I would bring a project to while away the hours, but in my current state I was beside myself as to what that project would be.
Ultimately I decided to go back to a wedding gift project that is due in August that I hadn't worked on since October (a conservative estimate). What a good project to return to! Cables to keep things interesting, 100% wool yarn, one eye calming cream color. Pleasant music, and a lovely bunch of German women who happened to be there who lavished my project with ego boosting praise and then descended upon me trying to show me how to do a continental purl stitch.
There were three women, two were mother and daughter, and each had her own slightly different continental purl technique and each felt her own way made the most sense, and it was such a nice moment of knitter fellowship and so charming to be literally hugged from behind by one of the women while she grabbed my hands and attempted to lead them through her version of a purl. So i'm back in the game, inching my way back to relaxing knitting.
And that's why i need to write every day here, because the experience of knitting is so mercurial to me and I want to try to document it, maybe for 2 weeks?
Second Sock Syndrome
Socks are fun to knit. While there are some knitters who never knit socks, there are some who only knit socks. A basic sock leaves a lot up to the discretion of the knitter. There is a cuff, a heel, and a toe, with leg and foot between them, and because there have been people knitting for hundreds of years, there are lots of different ways to create these parts. I love that socks are based on measurements, and that you can make a sock that fits just based on the wearer’s shoe size. I love to find a favorite method for each part, use it a few times, and then find a new favorite method. I’ve been knitting socks since 2005, and plunging head first into the knitting part of the internet since 2009, and I still come across new ways to do things that tickle my fancy. I’m looking at those numbers, and they don’t seem long enough ago to encompass what I feel I’ve learned about fiber arts in those years, but, to put it another way, I spend an average of 3 hours a day on fiber crafting, and so those years add up to 5,000-10,000 hours.
I learn new skills with each new project I undertake and with each old project I do a 2nd or 3rd time, and spending 50 straight days a year crafting means that I’m learning a lot. Even so, I’m surprised to see how things I made, even a year ago, feel far away and foreign. Places in a pattern where I had to make decisions look strange to my eyes now, because I’ve learned new techniques that I would use instead.
I’ve been busy recently working on projects for folks at Thanksgiving and for folks at Christmas, and for weddings that are happening in August (yeah, I know, but it is better to be ahead than behind I say!). I’ve gotten through everything I wanted to do for Thanksgiving, and Christmas still seems far away, so I got inspired to finish a project that has been hanging around since May 2011. The project is a pair of socks that were supposed to be for an August 2011 birthday, but instead they will be for a 2012 Thanksgiving.
Technical Notes: My goal is to avoid taking the first sock apart and have two matching socks at the end of the process. I did not, however, make it simple for myself. In 2011, apparently, I hadn't yet learned to keep detailed notes about pattern changes, because I looked at the finished sock, looked at the directions I had stuffed into the bag with the extra yarn, and had some troubles. After trying to start the sock cuff-down and knitting a few rounds, I figured out that the finished sock is knit from the toe up. I can still access vague memories of being so enamored of Judy’s magic cast-on that I would use any excuse to employ it, and also being so interested in the Interlock Bindoff, that, again, any excuse or pattern tweak seemed reasonable. The Interlock Bindoff looks almost, but not quite like a Twisted German cast-on, thus my cast-on confusion. They may, very well, operate under the same principles, because they are both very stretchy. Figuring out how many stitches were cast on was another challenge. Well, less of a challenge and more like I didn't look that closely at the toe of the first sock before I plunged ahead, so, a completed toe later, I realized that I had cast on 28 stitches on the first sock, and only 20 on the second, so I ripped it back again. Now I’m on the almost right track and should be able to finish the foot without further incident.
I did an afterthought heel on the first sock (a heel knitted after the rest of the sock is finished). Now, as you would expect, I have a different favorite heel, which is knitted during sock construction. The afterthought heel I did has a thicker side seam than I would like. I’m torn because I don’t want to do a bunch of ripping back, and I can’t employ my new favorite heel technique anyway, but if I can find a satisfactory solution, which I think I have, then I’ll be pulling out the heel on the first sock and doing something a little more elegant.
The pattern for these, by the way, is Jaywalker.
I spent the weekend attempting to give order to my massive yarn collection (more on this and what I found later.) Of course, the main thing I found was that I have a lot of yarn that I can’t really imagine using. That isn’t to say that I can’t imagine needing this yarn for something, but just looking at it isn’t an inspirational activity. My husband thought it looked warm and fuzzy all laid out on the floor. To me it looked like waist deep mud that I would have to wade through for some kind of craft basic training. It’s back in tubs now, labeled into general categories: “acrylic worsted” and “natural worsted,” for example.
I also found some “science experiment” knitting poking around, little swatches and tests. One that’s been around for a year is the answer to the question “What if I made this bigger?”
I thought I was going to make a thread bedspread at some point, which, still might happen in my lifetime. Of course, the pattern I chose was time consuming and thread consuming, and even popped up as the subject of some justified mockery on a well known knitting blog.
I would need to make a gazillion, and I’ve made around 10. Also, I can only imagine that this bedspread, once completed, would probably weigh so much that people laying beneath it could not move.
At some point, I wanted to see what would happen if this fiddly little square was done in worsted?
Again, the result eats up a lot of yarn, the brown part used almost a whole skein, but I love the effect. Looking at all my acrylic worsted weight yarn, I’ve been thinking, I should finish this project. It seems like a great way to get rid of yarn and end up with a lacy extravagant blanket. I was thinking maybe 9 squares, maybe 12. I’m going to shoot for one a month and see where that gets me. Though I just realized I have no idea what size hook I used for the big one. Hmm.
A Mom for Blog
My friend has a joke that her blog is a “blog for moms.” Not that she writes for moms, but that her main readership is her mom, a friend’s mom, her boyfriend’s mom, etc. I think it is mostly a way of expressing the confusing feeling of writing for the internet. You don’t really know who you are writing for, besides your mom.
Personally, though I don't always know who all is reading, I know that my mom is my most dedicated reader, and also my most dedicated harasser when I fall behind in my posts. One of the reasons I fall behind is that I get it into my head that I have specific things I want to say about my projects, and I can’t say them to my own satisfaction. My mom always has tons of nice stuff to say about what I’ve made, so I decided to just let her say it this time, and also clean out the backlog of projects I needed to share with you all, and then maybe I can get motivated from here moving forward. I've included links for the patterns. Some are only on Ravelry, one is on Lion Brand and you have to log in to see it.
So, without further ado, here’s my mom:
Sarah just finished making me this beautiful silk shirt. Last February, I took a trip to California to visit the kids and go with Sarah to the Stitches West Show in San Jose. There, we found this pattern and yarn. It sat around until late July when we gathered in Paradise (Michigan), and there, Sarah started working on the project. So soft, so lovely. This pattern can be adjusted for any body size. And of course, Sarah made it so it fits me perfectly. [pattern]
The cute red and white placemat is 100% cotton, and 100% LOVED by Sarah’s cat Mona. I guess you could say that it is a catmat… The pattern is a free pattern from Red Heart. [pattern]
Lovely wool socks for the fisherman. Sarah’s father-in-law loves to fish – and loves to keep warm. These socks work for both! I love the red toes and the heals as well as the ultra cool pattern on the leg. [pattern, though I did a jojo heel, which is not in the book.]
Mom and Mom-in-law both got a pair of these paneled socks. The blended yarn worked in sections really makes for some cool socks. [pattern, above with a short row heel and picot hemmed cuff, below with a heel flap heel and ribbed cuff.]
Having such a talented daughter, I tend to make a lot of special requests. Sarah really went out of her way for a dear friend of mine. With a new German Shepherd in the family, I thought it would be nice for my friend to have a knit German Shepherd for her collection. So I sent photos of the puppy to Sarah, who went through her stash to try to match the markings of the actual dog. She did a fantastic job (of course). The odd thing was that the dog was scared of the knit dog. She wouldn’t stop barking at her miniature. Sarah thought this might have happened because she made the dog while dog sitting. Maybe the dog could smell the other dog on the yarn? Who knows? [pattern]
And the HATS.
My husband has worn a knit hat forever. His mother was an amazing knitter (as is his daughter). When Sarah was researching the perfect hat to make for her Dad, she came into a quandary. There were TWO hats that she liked. The best solution was achieved. Sarah knit two hats for her Daddy. One for really cold weather, one for medium cold weather. Both lovely (although the patterned one is my favorite). Both blue (because that is her Daddy's favorite color). Both wool (because that is what Daddy loves). [and I never got a finished photo of the one on the right! left: pattern, right: pattern]
Okay, thanks Mom! for guest blogging. I’ll be back next week with a post about a new project.
Socks and other things
Thought I might not post frequently, I always keep busy! Here are some pictures with their origin stories.
Meet tiny Texas Zombie!
I combined two of Anna Hrachovec's wonderful tiny patterns. The armadillo is from her book Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi, and the zombie is from a separate pattern collection. I changed the pattern for the zombie just a little, making the legs longer, and making the shirt white. I made up the little hat. It is crocheted, starting at the top, making a little tube, and then increasing in every stitch to make the brim. I should write up the pattern for those that want a tiny hat, but I haven't yet, so I would just say, trust your gut, and let the tiny hat flow from you naturally. I put some wire into the raised arm so he could give a proper yee-haw, which shows a little in this photo, but just think of it as yarn zombie bones. The reins are embroidery floss. He now lives on the desk of a co-worker who is from Texas and loves zombies.
A little treat for my husband who lends emotional support to all the projects you see on this site. When projects start to go south, he listens to me talk it out, and he calmly accepts a bedroom destroyed by trying to find that one ball of yarn that just can't be found. This pattern may look familiar. It is the Sidewinders pattern that I've knit several times already. I knit it with Mini-Mochi which was a lovely experience. I was very pleased that the pink stripes landed on the sides of the socks so that it really looks trouty. For fans of non-traditional sock construction (I know I'm not the only one!) I recently happened upon Hypercycloid's blog where she has been up to lots of non-traditional sock construction. I've saved several of these patterns for future use.
Kilt Hose, click on the images to make them larger
More husband socks! My husband has been taking bagpipe lessons for almost a year, and he played in a competition for the first time recently. Not only have I learned a lot of about the instrument in this time, but I've also learned about the parts of traditional Scottish dress. Eventually he will have his own kilt, but in the mean time, he rented one, as well as all the fixings. Of course, I was darned if he was going to rent or, perish the thought, buy the hose to wear with the kilt. Also of course, I only came to the realization that I would need to make these hose 3 weeks before the competition (I ended up finishing them the night before). No problem! I found this lovely free pattern through Ravelry. I chose the toe up version of the pattern because I knew I would have to make a few modifications to fit my husband's larger calves. The hose are knit with worsted weight yarn (Cascade 220) but on US size 1.5 needles. When the socks are on the leg, my vertical gauge ended up being 15 rows per inch, which is quite a few more rows than I think the pattern was intending. Instead of two balls of the 220, I ended up using almost 4, but the result is a pair of very nice dense hose, no holes between stitches (which was my husband's main concern). Besides doing many more rows for the leg and cuff, the only other modification I made was to do two more rib increases on the back of the calf, instead of the suggested single center rib finish. (Sorry, I'm not sure how better to describe that, look at the picture of the back of the calf and I think you'll see what I mean.) I want to try kilt hose again, and he is competing again in September, so, more kilt hose might show up here in the future.
Last, but not least. I had had my eye on this pattern on Ravelry for some time, but had no reason to make it. Enter the reason, I had the opportunity to go to a Dr. Who themed party. Hurrah! This is a crocheted Ood. The Ood are hilarious and also full of pathos, and so, they are favorites of mine. This pattern was super quick and super easy, it took me about 2 nights of work. I had all the yarn in my stash, so, good de-stashing project if you have some left over sand from an under the sea blanket and some left over coral color from making sea horses. The pattern is also brilliant because there is a mouth opening behind the tentacles for breathing and eating.
Okay, and we're not caught up yet! I have a lot of gifts to give in the near future and then there will be a catch up gift post!
Whenever anyone tells me "Hey, I like your blog," I feel compelled to say: "I don't post enough! But I just like crafting more than I like writing about it." As a result, a lot of projects never make it onto the blog because they were finished so long ago that by the time I get it together to write a post, I'm onto something totally new. But I've done a lot of projects recently that I like, so I'm just going to overwhelm you with a big smorgasbord of finished projects. Dig in!
Here is the finished Under the Sea blanket. Though I am pleased, and my friend who received it is pleased, it somehow never lived up to my elaborate conception, (which was much more sculpture than blanket). All of the items button on with toggle buttons, and so they can be re-arranged and moved around.
More socks for my mom. They are both from patterns that you've seen here before and that just work particularly well. I liked the Sidewinders pattern so much, that I knew I wanted to make a pair for my mom. I used some Felici self striping yarn and it ended up coming out so perfectly! The last pair of Skew socks got rave reviews for fit, so I thought I would make another pair. This time around I used an acrylic blend so that they won't be quite so warm as wool. A summer sock.
More socks! This time socks for my husband, who, you may have noticed, doesn't get a lot of stuff. The items in the cue for him are long and varied and he is very patient about it, so I got the lead out and actually finished something for him. These were designed by the witty little knitter, and the pattern is here. I was worried about tightness in the ankles, so I did the all of the white accents on the leg in duplicate stitch. I hadn't really ever given a lot of though to the technique of duplicate stitch, but thankfully and serendipitously, smartygirl at the filmcraft blog posted a link to a Watermelish tutorial on duplicate stitch which was awesome! And everything came out much neater than my original attempt.
Tiny seahorse is finished! I put it off for so long because I was worried I wouldn't be able to pick up the stitches for the belly. I hadn't even considered how absurdly small the back fin would be. So tiny! This is, once again, a Hansi Singh pattern. I didn't have to change the pattern at all, just used smaller needles and yarn. People's main reaction has been, "how do you make it so tiny," and my only answer is "tiny needles." The stick supporting the seahorse in this photo is actually one of the needles used to knit it. They are size 0/6 and I got them from BagLady, where I also got 0/4 and 0/5. They don't sell 0/8, thank goodness, or I would probably be blind.
And I know I'm kind of burying the lead here, but ta-da! Tiny chameleon. He was inspired by a little guy you may have seen in the news a little while ago:
One new chameleon was found on Nosy Hara, an islet off the coast of Madagascar. Named Brookesia micra, it is the smallest of the four species. Juveniles are small enough to stand on the head of a match.
Well, I didn't quite get it that small, but pretty close! Also, chameleons are incredibly fun to look at! When ever I'm doing a project where I'm trying to match something in nature, I do a lot of image searches first, and that was how I learned the super fun fact that baby chameleons ride around on their mom's faces. So, then, of course, I knew what I had to do.
Both mom and baby are Hansi Singh patterns. The mom was knit with sock weight yarn and using 0/4 needles. The hardest part by far was the tail, but it wasn't impossible. The legs are knit separately, but the head and eyes are knit with picked up stitches. There are wires inside the legs so that they are positionable.
Last time I wrote about stash busting. And then I went to Madrona, and then I went to Stitches. But I'm telling myself I did my shopping for the year, and at this point I intend on sticking with that. In other words, my goal for the rest of the year is that every project here will be stash busting.
I would love to write a whole Madrona post, but I didn't take any photos, so I will just say, it was lovely! It was so cool to be in classes with a bunch of really passionate skilled knitters, and it was thrilling to be a little star struck taking classes from Jared Flood, Franklin Habit, Lucy Neatby, and Amy Detjen (Amy doesn't have much of a web identity, but she is the assistant for Elizabeth Zimmerman's daughter. Pretty good pedigree!). It is one of those things about knitting that you can get as broad or as precises as you want to about your technique. I learned great color work and finishing tips that would mostly only be noticeable to a knitter, but are fun to think about. And I would feel more confident about tackling an antique pattern, if I had a wild hair to do so. I would totally recommend the conference and hope to go back. The other major highlight of the trip was that I got to stay with friends in Seattle, one of whom was the recipient of the dutch sweater I've been working on, off and no, for almost a year. So, ta-da:
Technical notes: I'm very pleased with the way it came out. The fit ended up being pretty perfect and using the shoulder shapping from the Global Warming sweater worked so well.
Because I had so many more stitches to each round than the Global Warming, I ended up with a boat neck, which was what I wanted anyway.
Now, about that neck: I knew I wanted to do a rolled cast-off which requires a 1 x 1 ribbing, but I had done a 2 x 1 ribbing. The way I've done it before, I had increased between the 2 knit stitches, to create the 1 x 1 ribbing that allows for the rolled bind off (which is essentially putting all the knit stitches on one double pointed needle, all the purl stitches on another double pointed needle, and doing a kitchner bind off). Well, I did my increases, did my kitchner bind off, and ended up with a big floppy neck line. I though, "blocking will fix this," but it didn't. The night before I left, while the knitting was still slightly damp, I fear, I undid the bind off, and re-did it by knitting the two knit stitches in the ribbing together, so that I still ended up with a 1 x 1 ribbing at the end, but with 1/3 fewer stitches, instead of 1/3 more stitches. I did the same rolled bind off and the results were perfect!
Of course I learned some stranded color techniques at Madrona that would have improved this garment, but probably only to my eyes. On the whole a very satisfying crafting experience.
Cleaning out my closet
Ah the knitter’s stash and stash-busting. For the uninitiated, the stash is what knitters call their hoard of yarn. Stash busting is using yarn from the stash, thereby making the stash a tiny bit smaller.
The title of this post is really only figurative, because while my stash occupies a large portion of my closet, it has also spread to sections of my book shelf, and, horror of horrors, the terribly yarn-un-friendly location of the garage.
Lori, Lori, quite aquisitory, how does your stash grow?
Well, I am guilty of what I will call “whole project buying”. I see a pattern, I love it, I buy all the yarn needed for it, and then I squirrel it away because I certainly don’t have time to start a new project, I have several projects going already! Sometimes, three years later, I start these projects, sometimes, I don’t.
Sometimes you need a tiny bit of black acrylic for the ends of the eye stalks of some hermit crab, and so you buy a giant ball of red heart, which never, ever, ends, all the while taking up a lot of cubic inches of stash real estate.
A lot of the time, you know that it takes 100g of sock yarn to make a pair of socks, so you buy 1000g of sock yarn, 100g at a time, with the expectation that some day you will make ten pairs of socks. Not an unlikely expectation at all.
The only problem is that then, the new knitting magazines show up on your door step, or you spend a night browsing on Ravelry, or someone you can’t refuse says, I found this pattern, please make it for me, and then you find yourself buying more yarn. And at the end of these projects, there is always a little yarn left over, and so the stash grows a little, even though yarn is leaving the house.
But then, none of this is really complaining, because gazing at your stash is a satisfying sort of activity in it’s own right.
But so is stash busting.
I’m working on two stash busting projects right now. One is a sweet sweater I started about one year ago. I’m re-starting it really. The little dutch sweater dress that will some day be a reality.
I’ve got miles to knit before I sleep on this one, but the pattern keeps it entertaining, imagining what little dutch people would say while they were waiting for their heads to be knit. Instead of just making the original vintage pattern larger, I’m using the general pattern suggestions for the Global Warming sweater, I’m looking forward to doing the sleeves! I had a brief conniption last night because, while I’ve known I will need to order more of the white yarn for a while, I’ve been putting it off. The white is a nice thick sport weight from Knitpicks called Telemark. Well, "they" have discontinued Telemark, and it seems, replaced it with Wool of the Andes, which I don't have a particular gripe with, except that WotA has about 30 yds more per 50g ball, which means it is not as thick and sturdy. I was imagining all kinds of tragic looking outcomes to this situation, but this morning I found 6 balls of the yarn hanging out in the UK, and that should be enough to finish the project. Hurrah!
But even while I have this project that is so sweet and tons of fun, and even has some technical planning aspects to keep me engaged, I’ve been just pining to crochet. So much so that I made this a few nights ago:
I was pouring over my doily books, almost drooling, wondering where I could get size 30 cotton thread. However, I am well aware that clearly I don’t need more thread, and really, more doilies. So, the part of my mind that wasn’t overtaken with feverish doily planning remembered a box of yarn from 2009 that was in the garage that was waiting to become a ripple afghan. Ta-da:
Not that we need blankets either, but I dream of a day when I’ve got a lovely purple ruffle afghan on the back of one chair, and a beautiful mustard Girasole over the back of the couch. I haven’t bought the yarn for the Girasole...yet.