Friday, November 30, 2012

Never Not Knitting Podcast

I am a bit excited today.  Yeah, it's Friday and whatnot, but this is even better.

My funny story about my Comedy of Errors Sweater, aka Napoli Sweater, is featured on Alana Dakos' podcast #68 of Never Not Knitting!

I have enjoyed Alana's podcast for a few years now. She started out as a frequent knitter talking about her own projects, knitting product reviews and injecting her own funny knitting stories. Then she started adding funny and interesting stories from her listeners from around the world. In the last few years she has branched out to running her own knitwear design company and has self published, with friend and co-author Hannah Fettig, the very popular Coastal Knits books. Alana has recently self-published a new children's book called "Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf"; it is an adorable story about a little girl and her effort to learn to knit.

Alana always puts together an entertaining podcast full of knitting stories and now my story, read by me, is being featured on this month's episode!  Check it out!

Have you ever heard your own voice on tape and been surprised at what you sound like to others?  Um, yeah! Kind of surreal.

So I have been very busy knitting up some Christmas gifts so I have not been posting much as I don't want to ruin the surprises. My previous hysteria over Christmas knitting has lessened. I am almost feeling Zen about the whole thing now. What will be will be, as such.

But I can show you one really cute thing that I have knit recently.
I'd like to introduce you to: Mr. Bunnyman Blankstare.
He doesn't say much.
pattern is: Snowball Buddies, by Susan Claudio Designs
I had no stuffing at home when it was time to fill this little guy's body and I found myself at a dollar store buying a full sized pillow and cutting it open at home for the filling. I needed a palm full of stuffing and now have enough stuffing for an army of these little guys.

Which, if I am not careful, will ruin my new found Zen-like calm and bring me right back to hysterical as I control myself from the idea that I can make 87 more of these before Christmas!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Early Evening Cardigan

I am in love with a cardigan.

Lady Marple Sweater, by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne 
I started knitting this sweater for myself this weekend and I want to nothing else except knit it. This is an exceptionally brilliant pattern knit in one piece from the bottom up.  I am hoping that mine looks as cute and functional as the one pictured above by the author/designer. Mine will be a dark chocolate brown with robin's egg blue edging.

The best part of this sweater... I am knitting it with stashed yarn! I just need to make one sweater a month for the next XX months and I will have this whole stash-issue under control. (Let's stop with the crazy talk and just focus on knitting one sweater at a time.)

I am just under the arms with only a weekend's work. It is a "quick" knit but I have also done a lot of sitting around this weekend due to all the snow that arrived. A new sweater project is the perfect way to spend a snowbound weekend.

I am calling this my Early Evening cardigan because my kids and I watched all of the Twilight movies this weekend while I was knitting.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Inevitable Binge after a Diet Declaration

Sigh. Yeah, that didn't last long.

I should know better, really, I should.  While I was at it I should have said I was on a eating diet too. Then I would have immediately made myself a container of brownies, ate 2 candy bars and called it day. It is the way I typically react to any sort of resolution without moderation. In a word... poorly.

I told my eldest daughter about my proposed yarn diet right after I wrote my last blog and she was all "Whoa, Mom, how are YOU going to do that for more than a year!"  I was a little hurt. I told her about determination and stick-to-it-ness and appreciating the things you have.  Blah blah blah. I should go buy her a new ipod or something because clearly I am teaching my children nothing here.

There is no after-school special being modelled on my life here, people.

I started well enough. I am a list maker. So I made a list of the projects in my queue where I already had the yarn. I made sub-lists of the projects that I would make for myself and those I would make for future gifts. I figured that this would go better if I had a plan. My plan was to knit with my stashed yarn and to stay away from my favourite on-line yarn shops until I had built up some momentum.

Then I found a new project that I absolutely loved on Ravelry! I wanted to make it in the same yarn as the original, because it was far more lovely than anything I have ever seen. But I wasn't allowing myself to shop on-line. I convinced myself that it wasn't really buying yarn if I acquired it from someone else's "will trade or sell" stash from Ravelry. I wasn't shopping. I was doing another knitter a favour by taking that unwanted gem off their hands! For money!

That was my slippery slope.

Last week I had occasion to go into my nearest big city and I just happened to find myself at my favourite LYS yarn and accidentally(?) found myself buying 3,271 yards of yarn. I bought all of this yarn like I had nothing else at home waiting to be knit and with the attitude that this amount of yarn was totally going to be all knit up before Christmas. It was just a few hats and 4 pairs of socks.


I was, and am, fooling no one. And it is best that I reboot the whole thing before I end up owning a yarn shop to spite myself. I am not going to beat myself up about this but I do need to smarten up and get ahold of this issue.

So I am going to revise my goals to be much more simple and reasonable.

  1. I am going to try to knit from my stash until October 31, 2013 December 31, 2012.
  2. I am going to use stashed yarn for all projects from now until deadline.
  3. I am in one yarn club right now (it ends November 2012) but that will be the only yarn coming in. Incoming club yarn will be added to the stash totals.
  4. I will accept yarn or yarn club memberships as gifts. Hint, Hint. (Is it sad that I am already planning loopholes to my rules.) Those totals will be added to the stash.
  5. I would like to have under 52,500 yards by deadline. (That is 11% consumption. Which admittedly may be a pretty high goal.)  I am going to see how much yardage I can use between now and then. No other goals.
  6. Selling and trading yarn is allowed and will be documented accordingly. I am striking this because I know that I have no intention of selling or trading any yarn between now and the end of the year.
  7. I will report monthly.

So as of November 1, 2012 my stats are as follows:
WIP: 4
Total Yardage: 61,588 yards

We'll see how this goes.  How many times do I need to remind myself... it's a process, knitter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Yarn Diet. Yep, I'm Going Cold Sheep.

I need to get something off my chest.

Are you ready?

I have a pretty good yarn stash. But it is at risk of turning into a good yarn collection unless I do something about it... and soon.

I have bought a lot of yarn over the last year and have, at last count, 63 items in my Ravelry queue. I have, probably, enough yarn on hand to make at least 25 (UPDATE: 32 actually, if I count socks I had planned) of the items in the queue and more than a few more items that I haven't even found yet.

My "problem" is that I am so excited by certain projects that I rush out and by the yarn right away. I panic and start to worry that I can always do that project later but that I must buy the pattern and yarn RIGHT NOW before either gets discontinued/removed/lost/sold out etc. I generally tuck both the pattern and the yarn away quickly and promise to do "that project next".  But it never seems to happen that way. I suppose I am a total magpie and I am always attracted to the next shiny object.

picture courtesy of:

And it is getting a little out of control. So I need to do something radical (well, for me)... I need to go on a yarn diet. I need to use the fabulous yarn that I have and get to work on the projects I have planned already.

So, a yarn diet it is. I figured that I had better do this publicly and put it out there of what I have and the rules. This will also serve as a reminder to myself to be appreciative of the yarn that I have in hand already.

  1. I am going to try to knit from my stash until October 31, 2013.
  2. I am going to use stashed yarn for all projects from now until deadline.
  3. I am in one yarn club right now (it ends November 2012) but that will be the only yarn coming in. Incoming club yarn will be added to the stash totals.
  4. I will accept yarn or yarn club memberships as gifts. Hint, Hint. (Is it sad that I am already planning loopholes to my rules.) Those totals will be added to the stash.
  5. I would like to have under 52,500 yards by deadline. (That is 11% consumption. Which admittedly may be a pretty high goal.)
  6. Selling and trading yarn is allowed and will be documented accordingly.
  7. I will report monthly.

This is the whole stash.
This is the part of the stash that is accounted
 for planned projects.

As of today my counts are as follows:
WIP: 4
Total yardage: 58,419 yards
Items in Stash: 91

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A pre-Christmas panic attack

Breathe deep. Keep calm.
I CAN see the calendar.
Head between your knees.
I do know that it is only early October. 
Bring paper bag to face.
I can't seem to get Christmas off my mind right now. And I may be getting a little panicky about it.
Go to your happy place.
It seems ridiculously early but Christmas is front and centre in my brain right now. And the really odd thing is that I have sooooo many other favourite holidays that come first! (Halloween, Black Friday, Yarn Sale day etc.)
My recent panic attacks might have to do with a list that I made for myself of potential Christmas gift ideas for friends and family members. I make one every year. Typically this list includes things to buy for my loved ones.  But this one is a little different than in previous years. This one has a list of only knitted items next to each name.
It started simple, with my immediate family: my husband and my kids. That's 4 people right there and they all want sweaters!  I add my parents, my in-laws and I am feeling a little light headed now. Then I add my sister, her husband and their two sons that are both over 6 feet tall and my sister in law. Bubbles of hysterical laughter escape as I frantically look back and forth between my list and the calendar.
From here it snowballs... badly. I add our best friends,  my counsin's kids, a good friend with a benchmark birthday and my grandparents. I have drool frothing at my lips when I start thinking that I could pound out  6, maybe 8, of these really cute little stuffed apples for teacher gifts.
From Knit Simple, Holiday 2012
I need to go through my stash!
I need to get to the yarn store!
I need a sharp rap to the head... because it would take a fleet of about 5 professional knitters working full-time between now and Christmas to make this list happen! It's so ridiculous that I should be laughing about it instead of hyperventilating.
I do know that I can't possibly make something for everyone in my family between now and Christmas. So I wonder why I am spending time worrying about this. This may have been doable, maybe,  if I had started in January- of last year- and had budgeted a couple of small projects a month. But even then I doubt it.
Seriously, it is a really big list.
This might have something to do with the fact that I have finished more projects this year than I have in the previous 4 years combined. I think that I have recently jumped a skill level which has allowed me to hit a groove. As a result I have churned out some really nice projects this year. I have made a combination of small and big items.  I think this recent productivity has made me insane cocky.
Each month I review the newest knitting magazines and on-line patterns and the list gets a little bit longer. And I find myself saying "Oh, that lace scarf would be so nice for my sister-in-law. I think I have the necessary 1500 yards of lace weight in my stash!"  Or I remember that my friend has always hinted that he'd like a pair of warm cabled mitts and LOOK at that pattern, right there for the very same!
Flint Cabled Mittens,
Brooklyn Tweed, in Shelter
Never mind the trouble I get while on Ravelry. I currently have 62 items in my queue and those are only the items for me.
So why am I torturing myself?  It is simple really. As much as I am a process knitter I really like to make handmade gifts. I like being able to show someone that I care about them enough to have spent tens of hours making something just for them.
I am trying to understand this better but just because I can make something doesn't mean that I should. Not every gifts needs to be handmade. Something that I think is beautiful may not look the same to another. And not everyone values a handmade gift. This is a lesson that I have learned the hard way. Some people really do like store gifts better. Or cash. This is okay.
A gift, when given, should be more about the person receiving and less about the hang ups of the giver.
My rational brain knows that I should calmly put down my list and walk away. I should pick the few items that I can reasonably accomplish between now and Christmas and focus on those.
That sounds like a great idea but my knitting brain is still in panic mode.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Owls, Afterthoughts, Stripes and Other Concerns

I finished the most adorable sweater this week. I haven't blocked it yet or finished with the buttons and adornment (we'll call this 99% finished) but I cannot resist showing you now. This sweater will be Christmas gift and I could not be more pleased in how it turned out. Yeah me! I feel like my knitting mojo might be back.

Owlet sweater, size 2 years

The Owlet sweater was so easy to knit and finished so well. It was knit with fairly big needles too so it seemed to knit up quickly. I really like how the simple cable repeats really look like little owls. The pattern calls for two buttons to be added to each owl, total 32 buttons. But I think that is going to be too much. I have been searching around on Ravelry for ideas on how other knitter have finished the sweater. There are lots of choices- people are so creative. I know how I want to finish it I just need to purchase a few minor notions first. Don't worry I will post the final finished project.

I bought this pattern in adult sizes too and keep wondering if I could pull off a sweater with a parliament of owls on the yoke. I think the adult version is a more fitted sweater too. I'll  have to give this some more thought.

I have finished the body of one of Olivia's birthday socks. Her birthday is next weekend and it is unlikely that I can get them both finished that quickly but I'll try. I am trying something different with her socks. I am making hers with an afterthought heel. I have never tried that before but have read good things about this heel making process. We'll see how this works out.

The blue line will become a heel...
if I ever find the courage to rip it out.

I did end up starting a project for myself. I tried to pick something easy that I could pick up and put down. I picked the Sonia's Shawl pattern.  However, I neglected to factor in how addictive stripes are to knit. "Just one more row" becomes "just one more stripe" and then "just one more repeat". And next thing I know it is midnight and I can barely keep my eyes open.
The navy yarn is Hand Maiden, Cashba Sock yarn (gorgeous!)
the colourful yarn is Kauni Wool 8/2 Effektgarn
 The Cashba yarn is so soft and lovely to knit with. The Kauni is a fingering weight wool with very long colour repeats in rainbow colours. I bought it special for a project just like this.  I may love the colours of the Kauni but it feels like I am knitting with gardening twine.  I had a striping shawl in mind but knew that I needed something very soft  to pair with the very coarse wool.

I am hoping that the finished product will still be soft and warm. I am also hoping that the Kauni soften with washing and wearing. I don't mind scratchy yarn against the skin so I am sure it will be fine. Aren't those famous last words? I guess all I can say right now is : to be continued...

So you can see what I have on the needle:
  • Olivia's birthday socks  (October) - 50% done
  • Stripy shawl for me. ~10% done
  • Queen of Diamonds Scarf- on-going- self made scarf pattern.

  • Not Yet on the needles but will be very very soon:
  • Finn's birthday sweater- I have swatched and have a most excellent plan. Finn approves. I will hopefully cast on this week.

  • Mystery Xmas gift #2- I ripped it without remorse.
  • Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Concerns of the Week

    I finished G's birthday socks and I am excited to report that they match. Each other. Really.  I  enjoyed knitting these and they seemed to go pretty quick. Nothing like little feet, eh?
    I am tending to keep a sock project on the needles right now so that I can take a small project with me where ever I go. I knit an entire heel flap and the heel turn in a meeting last week. It was a really long meeting!
    Happy Birthday G!
     I am also contemplating casting on a sweater for myself. I am trying to wait until after I have finished a few more of these small projects but I may not be able to wait.   Of course,  the sweater is not the one in my queue below but one of many that I have ready and tucked away. I am really enjoying knitting smaller projects right now- like baby sweaters. They make me feel like a super fast knitter.

    What's on my needles right now: 
    Above from top
     1)Baby Owlet Sweater,
    in Cascade 220 Heathers
    2) Olivia's socks. SweetGeorgia Yarns
    Tough Love Sock, in Spring Garden
    It doesn't look like it yet but I do have a plan.
    •  Baby sweater for sister-in-law's friend- Christmas 2012
    • Olivia's birthday socks  (October)
    • Mystery Xmas gift #2- I am still leaning towards ripping this project out. Still pending...
    • Queen of Diamonds Scarf- on-going- self made scarf pattern.

    My queue:
    • Finn's birthday sweater (December) - This idea is coming together. I just need to do a little more planning.
    • Baby sweater for friend due March 2013
    • Baby sweater for family 2013
    • Mystery Xmas gift #1- part 3?
    • Phoenix Rising Vergennes Sweater #2- this will be my second try at this sweater. I gave the first one to my sister. The first looked really good and I loved the yarn but I was unhappy with the final size. I have already swatched and I am ready to cast on!

    Sunday, September 9, 2012

    The Concerns of the Week

    I have a Finished Object (FO) to announce: Mystery Xmas gift #1 parts 1 and 2. I am going to be coy with the pictures for Christmas gifts meant for family members. For now all I will say is: they match and they are so warm! I am pleased with the results.  I still have left over yarn from parts 1 + 2 so Mystery Xmas gift #1 may get a part 3.

    I'm probably what you think I am but maybe not.

    I had a brain wave this afternoon. I realized that I have knit many items for my daughters but nothing to date for my son. He has mentioned this disparity many times and has a long list of items he'd like me to make for him. He really likes knit socks so that had been my plan for his birthday. He still has small feet so it is a bonus for me- a quick(er) knit!  But I had a better idea...

    When he was an infant I had tried to make him a baby sweater with a smiley intarsia skull and cross bones on the front but the project was set aside and never completed for several reasons:
    1. I had never knit intarsia before and found this to be way more challenging that I had anticipated.
    2. I made a horrible yarn choice. I order, quite possibly, the scratchiest and bramble and debris filled raw yarn possible. I had knit half of the pieces and kept telling myself that it would soften with washing but I was not convinced. Even I was feeling twitchy and I LIKE scratchy yarn against my skin.
    3. He was growing faster than I could knit the thing. I tossed the 6 month size sweater pieces when he turned 4.
    I'm having thoughts about trying a different and larger version of the same sweater. This bears more thought...

    What's on my needles right now:
    • Sock #2 for Georgia started and about 25% complete 
    • Mystery Xmas gift #2- I am not sure how much I like this project and may frog it. However, I am giving myself more time to decide... the thought of doing another 48 repeats on this project currently makes me want to hide.
    • Queen of Diamonds Scarf- on-going- self made scarf pattern.
    My queue:
    • Olivia's birthday socks or shawl (October) - she's waffling on what she wants
    • Finn's birthday socks or sweater? (December)  - as above
    • Baby sweater for sister-in-law's friend- Christmas 2012
    • Mystery Xmas gift #1- part 3?
    • Phoenix Rising Vergennes Sweater #2- this will be my second try at this sweater. I gave the first one to my sister. The first looked really good and I loved the yarn but I was unhappy with the final size. I have already swatched and I am ready to cast on!
    • Baby sweater for friend due March 2013
    • Baby sweater for family 2013
    My queue keeps getting longer. I think I need to make some decisions and get a few other projects moving this week!

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    The Curse of the Red Sweaters- Part 1

    A Comedy of Errors, in 6 parts- The Napoli Sweater

    Every knitter has a story of a project that, for whatever reason, just did not end up as planned.  I have many. Almost a dozen.  Coincidentally about the same number of full sized adult sweaters I have made.  Each one of these garments started with inspiration and great intentions but ended with me collecting, yet another, badge for my "The Hard Way- Acquired Knitting Knowledge" sash.  We'll just call it my THWAKK sash. Well Internets, my first red sweater had THWAKK written all over it but I was too inexperienced to know that yet.

    The Project: The Napoli Sweater, by Berroco
    Napoli Sweater, by Berroco
    "Our swingy cardi is the perfect topper for your layered look."
    I loved this sweater!  The buttons up front were modest, yet playful. This was a sweater that would work equally well for both work and play. It was cute and stylish. Everything I could want in a sweater. I quickly bought the booklet and set to planning out the project.

    Reading the pattern made me realize that perhaps I may have been skill-jumping a little over optimistic on my current knitting ability. Sure, at this point in my knitting history I could honestly say that I had successfully* knit a couple of sweaters for kids and had completed  a few adult sweaters. They were... unique. But I finished and they were kinda cool and I really wanted this sweater for myself. So I was willing to try.

    I shake my head now, a scant 3 years later, at how absolutely wrong I went with this sweater.  But, for the sake of a story with a moral  I will continue to tell you about all the ways in which this project was going to go wrong.

    We'll start with the obvious: Sizing. I was concerned that the XL, the largest size of the pattern, was going to be too small. (I have a 44" bust.) Positive and negative ease was not a concept that I understood yet. The description of the sweater clearly reads "swingy" implying a loose fit but I was very worried about it being too tight. So my answer to this was that I would just modify the pattern to match my own measurements. I can do that.

    The next most obvious way to go wrong: Yarn Choice. The pattern called for Touché yarn, a cotton/rayon blend that looked, to me, to be a firm and dense fabric when complete. It looked heavy and I wanted a lighter sweater as I am almost always hot rather than cold. I went to my LYS and chose a bright red bamboo yarn.

    Things could have gone a lot better for me had I listened to the advice of the sales woman in my LYS.  I showed her my pattern and the yarn that I had chosen "because it was pretty and I liked the colour" off the shelves and asked for her advice. Choosing her words quite diplomatically she suggested that choosing a yarn in the same gauge would be an easier choice. She showed me that the pattern called for a yarn that was 5 stitches/inch and that the yarn I had chosen was 5.25 stitches/inch.  I think I may have even rolled my eyes at her.

    "That is practically the same" I say with misplaced confidence. She assures me it is, in fact, quite NOT the same and sits me down to show me that math of how this will affect my finished project.

    This brings me to part three: Math.  I will pause for an aside at this point. I am generally quite good at math. I am an engineer by profession. So it is fair to say that I do  a lot of math. So when the LYS sale woman was explaining sizing ratios and formulas for modifications I understood exactly what she meant... when I was in the store.

    So I off I head home and I am now modifying my sweater to be larger AND to deal with a different gauge yarn. I may have over complicated things for myself because I wrote this complicated modification formula on the top of my pattern and kept referring to it with every row when I was trying to figure out if I have the right number of stitches or not.

    My sister, who is always fond of teasing me was heard saying "You can't just knit a sweater can you?! You have to turn it into a complicated lesson on algebraic equations." And  it was at about that point I gave up my modification formula entirely and just started adding 10 stitches to each row. Fuck it! I'm eyeballing it from here.

    I am sure you can guess that my Gauge was not even close to the 5 or even 5.25st/inch that it was supposed to be. I will admit a very embarrassing truth here: I did not understand at all how to measure gauge or even why it might be important. I got that I needed to do math for stitches per inch for sizing but I had no idea that you could knit a yarn in anything other than the gauge on the ball wrapper. I thought the purpose of swatches was to see if you liked the drape and feel of the yarn. So I would knit my little 4" square- wave it around and say "yep, it sure is pretty" and do absolutely nothing with it!

    I also had no idea how to use something as simple as Stitch Markers. The back and the two fronts had many repeats of increases (or decreases) depending on the piece being knit. I bought these little circles knowing that they marked a spot and somehow managed to knit them into my sweater along the bottom edge of the back. I then proceeded to try to follow the rows of stitches up from the bottom to where I needed to do my increase or decrease. I would forget if I was to decrease before or after the marker. I was not look close enough and mis-trace the path and be over by one or three stitches to the left or right. Needless to say there were no tidy nor straight decrease lines up the back of my sweater!

    With these 5 very important and quite fundamental issues it should be no surprise to anyone that my sweater once lovingly sewn together was huge, oddly shaped and was horribly unflattering! The sleeves, which may have also been knit with different sized needles, were too wide and too long. The shoulders drooped and the underarms sagged. The bamboo yarn was stretching each time I held the sweater up and seemed to be growing exponentially! Thank goodness I knew nothing then about blocking.

    I knew I couldn't wear this sweater but I had worked so long and so hard on it that I wasn't prepared to throw it away. Yet. So I folded it up with the pattern and tucked it in my knitting bag for further contemplation another day.

    The next part isn't pretty... reader be warned.

    Part 6 of my story involves a stray kitten named Leonard that our family was trying to adopt. Leonard was a beautiful cat  and he needed a home but he had one huge flaw: he would not stop peeing on things.

    There is no gentle way to say this. This poor cat got accidentally trapped, for an hour or so, in my closet. The same closet where I had my knitting bag on the floor awaiting enlightenment on what to do with this absurd sweater. He peed on the bag. I don't know how it happened but the sweater was folded on the bottom of the bag. Under a knitting reference book and under the pattern. The pattern, bag and book had to be thrown away immediately but somehow the one item in the bag that would have been no worse off covered in cat urine was miraculously safe!


    I should lie and say that I threw the sweater away. But I didn't. This is going to sound terrible but I gave the sweater to my mother-in-law, who, I'd like to say, that I like very much! The sweater was washed and clean.  No pee ever had touched the thing.

    I am equally sure that my mother-in-law politely took the sweater off my hands as a kindness to me and immediately hid it at the back of her closet hoping to never see the awful thing again! At least I hope that is what she did. I shudder at the thought of her having gone out in public wearing that thing.

    The knitting bag was the last straw for Leonard and our family. He went to live on a farm shortly after I found the knitting bag. **

    I learned some very important lessons on this project. Such as:
    • Stitch markers should not have to be cut out of projects.
    • Swatches have a bigger purpose than just being an extra 4" square of yarn.
    • Gauge matters.
    and last, but not least:
    • watch that you don't accidentally trap the cat that pees on things in your closet with your knitting!  He would have bought the literal farm if he had peed in my stash!
    But, as we all know, it's a process, knitter.

    *I am formally defining "successfully knit" as... completed a sweater that may or may not resemble the original pattern but it is, indeed, without any doubt, still a sweater. ( e.g. the weird little raglan sweater whose raglan decreases only went to the left (on both arms and on both sides)- yeah, still a sweater even though it had the weirdest neckline of any sweater ever imagined.)

    ** This is NOT a euphemism for a more violent end to the cat who ruined my favourite knitting reference book!

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    Genius, I told you!

    One perfect birthday sock!
    Well, I'm half way done my daughter's birthday socks. I'm feeling pretty good about these ones. So far sock#1 fits, doesn't have any weird striping (that isn't part of the pattern), has a normal heel flap and heel and doesn't have weirdly shaped toe decreases. Awesome!

    It will be tempting fate but I still have one more to go!

    What's on my needles right now:
    • Sock #2 for Georgia (to be started today)
    • Mystery Xmas gift #1: currently working on #2 of 2
    • Mystery Xmas gift #2- I am not sure how much I like this project and may frog it. However, I am giving myself more time to decide... the thought of doing another 48 repeats on this project currently makes me want to hide.
    • Queen of Diamonds Scarf- on-going- self made scarf pattern.
    My queue:
    • Phoenix Rising Vergennes Sweater #2- this will be my second try at this sweater. I gave the first one to my sister. The first looked really good and I loved the yarn but I was unhappy with the final size. I have already swatched and I am ready to cast on!
    • Olivia's birthday socks (October)
    • Finn's birthday socks (December)
    • Baby sweater for sister-in-law's friend- Christmas 2012
    • Baby sweater for friend due March 2013

    Friday, August 31, 2012

    The joy of practically matching socks

    I have been thinking about socks lately and how tricky they are to knit. They require quite a few skills: knowledge of the dpn or Magic Loop, tiny gauge yarn, literally thousands of stitches and the patience to complete one item then immediately start again to make the same item all over again.

    I haven't knit many socks yet. I am knitting my third pair right now and I am very hopeful, although not to the point of holding my breath, for a pair that actually match this time. 
    Plain sock made with Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock
    in Reaggeton.
    I heart self-striping yarn!
    My first two pairs were challenging. Step one was figuring out double pointed needles. Managing 4 to 5 needles at a time seemed supremely complex until I understood that, really, it was no different than using 2 needles and letting the others dangle while holding stitches. that. Check.

    Next: figuring out if you knit on the inside or outside of the double pointed needles. The really important part being able to tell the difference when you accidental flip it around. You see, my first pair was a heavily pattern sock which formed complex ribs with moss and seed stitch in between the ribs.  I kept switching, accidentally, between the inside and the outside of the sock causing my moss and seed stitch to form ribbing when I was knitting the outside pattern on the inside. But different ribbing from the pattern. I was easily 1/3 of the way through my first sock before I got this issue resolved. That first sock was oddly... stripey. And you guessed it I did not rip it out to fix it. That's what pant legs and shoes are for! Okay... knit on the outside. Check.

    Next: turning the heel. OMG you feel like a genius when you get this figured out. Getting them to match can come much later but just getting yourself around that corner is one of the most awesome things is all of knitting. Okay... heel turn. Check.

    Next: toe decreases. Figuring out the slope and pitch of your own toes does require some trial and error. I'll admit that my first sock has a very nipple-like genie slipper curl to the toe. The second one was much more natural.

    Lastly: doing it again! You have two choices for your second sock: intentionally make the same mistakes as on sock #1 or try to figure out what you were supposed to have done the first time and do that. I like to think I am learning something and have, so far, stuck with option #2. Try to get it right the second time. So I guess, technically, I am intentionally make different socks at this point. There are just so many variables to making socks.
    #1 socks- I called these my Ottawa socks
    made with Spud & Chloe, Fine , in Lipstick.
    I am hiding the nipple toe.
    I decided that my second try should be a simple plain sock. In my mind that was a better strategy to getting matching socks. Can't go wrong with miles of stockinette stitch, right? Wrong! This pair has perfect toes but the heel flaps and heels are completely different on each sock. Different patterns, different textures, different widths and heights. Um... these socks are even different lengths in both foot and shaft.
    #2 socks- my Halifax socks
    Malibrigo sock yarn
    Thankfully I've never been a person that is too concerned with having socks that match. Not that it wouldn't be cool, every once in a while, to have two that are practically the same.

    We'll see how #3 turns out.

    But it's a process, knitter.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    I'm a process knitter and that's okay by me

    Where do I start? And what can I say...

    My name is Jennifer and I'm a process knitter. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    A friend has, kindly, referred to me as precise knitter. (I think that in her mind knitter is one step up from nutbag but that is a conversation for another day.) I think she was trying to find a kind way to tell me I am picky but, clearly, not a perfectionist. I am a firm believer in good-enough.  I will NOT even contemplate frogging 10" of sweater to fix that one small error. Truthfully, I probably won't even go back a couple of rows if it can be easily ignored  avoided.  I will blindly continue knitting a project that is obviously too big/small/short/long until completion. And then act totally aghast and appalled at the monstrosity I have created. Then I'll find someone that that item does fit and then give it away.

    I instead choose to say I am making "an interpretation" of a designer's pattern. I'm just happy to knit.

    The irony of all of this is that I am a planner and problem solver by nature. Don't get me wrong, I read the entire pattern before attempting the project. I sometimes swatch. I have a tape measure and I know how to use it. I am very good at math. And still...

    I have been knitting long enough to have had some moderate successes but let's just say I have also had some spectacular misses too. I can always count on the item to look beautiful when finished but sizing seems to be my major issue these days.
    And, still, I keep knitting.

    This blog is a running commentary on my adventures in knitting. The good, the bad and the funny.  I aspire to actually make something that fits me, at least occasionally.

    But it's a process, Knitter.