Monday, 29 December 2014

Back in the saddle

I love Christmas, but this year the weeks leading up to it were hard.  Joshua was working a ton, I was prepping for hosting Christmas dinner, and we had an awesome vacation, but that meant the work that needed to be done here was squished into way less time than it would have been otherwise.  It was worth it, but the time since Christmas has been great.  We've done to dinner with family, done some relaxing here, played with Caleb and his new toys (the train set is a win), and I've knit.

I've been working on both the blanket (not much to report, it is slowly getting bigger, I still love it, although I'm slowly running out of leftover sock yarn), and the tea cozy.  I'm hoping to have the cozy photographed and for sale before the end of January.  There's not much knitting left to do, it's just at a point that involves math so I have to sit down and give it some minor attention before I can get any further.  I love how it's turning out and can't wait to post pictures. :)

Monday, 22 December 2014

Back in the country and so much to do

We ended up going to Florida for a week, which was majorly last minute but also so absolutely amazing.  While I was there I actually had time to knit, and have been working on an absolutely stunning tea cozy that I am smitten about.  I was worried about how it would work out given that the yarn I picked wasn't totally what I was expecting but it is lovely.  Christmas is in three days and I have a ton of cooking to do but things are shaping up reasonably here. :)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Yarn and Toddlers

I love Caleb dearly, but he makes yarn shopping very difficult.  I've bought yarn with the little guy a couple of times and each time I've gotten home and been like "oh, that's not quite what I was looking for."  It seems that having to keep track of a baby/toddler makes me slightly distracted so I pay less attention to things like yardage.  Also, I make funny colour selections when he's around.

All that to say that I bought my yarn for the next project, it's not entirely what I envisioned, but I like it.  I'm a bit nervous about having enough but have thought of a couple ways of dealing with this.  Now I just need to swatch and do some charting, while getting everything ready for Christmas and everything packed for a vacation, on Sunday.  :)

Friday, 5 December 2014

When time disappears

I have been working on Christmas things, slowly, because I have enough time and a reasonable list.  Except in the last couple days six days between now and Christmas disappeared.  Obviously Christmas is the same length of time away, but it seems we'll be flying somewhere far away for 6 of those days and I can't bake or make Christmas presents where I'm going.  (Technically, I could knit Christmas presents while away but all my Christmas knitting is finished.)

The fact that we're probably going away is AMAZING and exciting, and I'm over the moon, but this means that everything has to be ready before we go because when we come back I only have a few days to get things together for Christmas dinner (Did I mention that it's at our place?  And I've never cooked a turkey before?  Or any other whole bird?  Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I'm a vegetarian...)

I have lists and lists and lists of lists.

I can totally do this.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

I miss knitting

I have been working like mad to get an advent calendar done for my husband.  I had the vision for it for a while but somehow time had gotten away from me.  So for the last couple of weeks instead of knitting I was working on this.



The things around the edge are ornaments, and each day we take one off and after doing advent we put it on the tree.  The scripture readings for advent are on the back, and I'm hoping we'll be able to use it for years.

He absolutely loves it and I'm extraordinarily pleased with how it turned out.

I have two more things I need to make for Christmas, and oddly neither of them are knitting projects. I have one sewing project that's well under way and one other thing that I haven't even bought the supplies for (that's on the to-do list for this evening).

Mostly I miss knitting.  The blanket is inching its way along, and I have plans for a tea cozy.  I had the brilliant plan to use some of the money I've made from selling patterns to buy the yarn.  I transferred the money from paypal to my bank and found out that my debit card has been recalled and they're sending me a new one.  So I cannot go and by yarn.  It should arrive soon though, so I'll use the time for planning and for working on these projects so they're as close to done as possible when I finally get to go to the yarn store.  I can hardly wait.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Blindingly Pink

My mother arrived at my house last week needing help with a knitting project.  Apparently someone donated lots of yarn to their church and they're using it to make winter clothing for the poor.  My mother didn't remember how to purl.  After she told me this she pulled out the brightest pink yarn I have ever seen (think hi-lighter ink pink).

She forgot the project at my house so I worked on it a bit so she wouldn't be behind, and discovered that, although I don't think of myself as someone who only likes really good quality yarn and needles apparently I've developed a taste for the good stuff, because the entire thing drove me CRAZY.  The needles and yarn just felt terrible and I hated the whole thing.

I was happy to return it.

Monday, 24 November 2014

You don't need mittens in Nigeria

I made a pair of mittens for a friend some time ago, I've been meaning to bring them to her for a while but kept forgetting to put them in my purse.  Apparently she's unexpectedly moving to Nigeria on Thursday.  I'm not sure what I'll do with the mittens.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Mittens he can't pull off

I want to make mitten for Caleb.  At one point, somewhere, I saw either mittens or a picture of mittens that kids can't pull off.  (Caleb doesn't like mittens, it is only going to get colder, so I need a plan.)  The mittens I'm thinking of went halfway up the kid's arms, almost to the elbows, and were connected.  I don't think the connection was a string but something much thicker, maybe 7cm across, it was long enough to get the mittens on the kid when they're just wearing a sweater, but not long enough to give enough room to pull the things off once a kid has a coat on.  I have some yarn and felt and a pretty vague plan, that's only in the planning stage because of another project that snuck up on me, but should be done next week.

I just want the little guy to have warm hands.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Ever so sleepy

I realized I hadn't posted for a while yesterday.  Truth be told I haven't done a lot for a while, knitting included.  The reason for this is that we're expecting our second and Caleb has just dropped his morning nap so basically I have been spending his afternoon nap either napping or sitting on the couch awake but too tired to move.

I'm quite happy that I'm starting to feel a bit more energetic, and have been trying to figure out what to knit, although there are definitely some things around the house that have been neglected that I need to address before I spend oodles of time knitting. :)

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Ever so frustrating

I finally sucked it up and finished Caleb's mitts, then I wove in all of the ends (and there were a lot of ends).  I held them up beside each other and made the very frustrating revelation that they are not the same size.  I could re-knit one but I really don't want to knit the pattern ever again.


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ever so slowly

I still like the blanket, and am working on it, but not often.  Things have been busy lately, and we haven't been feeling well which means there's a lot of sitting and feeling like still is good.

I'm happy to say we're all on the mend, and that I have knitting plans I'm quite excited about, I just need to get to the yarn store.

Friday, 17 October 2014

A Great Exhalation

All of my patterns are up!  There are the Christmas ornaments and stockings plus two pairs of mittens that I'm quite fond of.  It took more work that I had anticipated (and by that what I really mean is it took forever to get the charts right) but they are up.

You can find them here on my Ravelry page and my Etsy shop can be found here.

The Etsy shop has the banner my delightful husband made as I slept one night, because I have no clue how to make a pretty graphic that is 760 by 100 pixels.  I should probably add a profile photo to both sites but that is a job for another week.

Any now I will celebrate by eating the banana bread that my mother brought over for me (family for the win). :)

Monday, 13 October 2014

Start them early

Last week was a busy week, it seemed like we were running around every day and as a result little knitting has actually gotten done.  I'm working on a cowl, which I'm quite enamoured with.  The yarn is baby llama and silk.  Caleb will often grab my yarn and run away with it, and if it's inexpensive I let him but I don't want this being handled too much so instead when he picks it up I take it, rub it against his face and say "mmm, soft."

Now he'll come, pick it up, rub it against his face and go "mmm."  This is very, very cute.  (Caleb is 14 months).

In other news it is beautiful thanksgiving Monday and I am looking forward to seeing family today.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Lovely little squares

One of my friends at crafternoon has been knitting dishclothes, they're for gifts and she's sick of them.  Naturally this inspired a second friend at crafternoon to also make dishclothes.

I love knit dishclothes but I hate the fact that dishcloth cotton always seems to pool and look like camo, not that there's anything wrong with camo if that's the look you're going for but, it's not generally what I had in mind.

So Karen was knitting away at her dishcloth which happened to be enterlac, which was something that's always kind of interested me in a I-should-do-that-eventually kind of way, and instead of the colours pooling it looked like this:

No pooling, just amazing little striped squares!  Also, I love the colours.  I told her this and she immediately gave me a second copy of the pattern and pulled out enough yarn from the centre of her ball so I could make one too.

This made my day.  The picture is actually of my finished dishcloth and I am tempted to go buy more of the yarn so I can make some for mother's day, and for myself.

I also started a cowl.

I am having a fun week.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Etsy

I have been working diligently on my patterns, and I just have one more to format.  I've decided to put them on Etsy as well so I've been working on that.  I have two already uploaded to Etsy (they're not visible yet, I'm going to wait until they're all up to launch it).

I don't know why but it is taking me forever to upload the files.  This may be something to do with my file size, which is what my husband says.  Apparently there's a way to change the image size but I'm not sure what it is.  I need a banner, and was telling my wonderful husband this.  The next morning he informed me that he had made one while I sleep, it needs a tiny bit of tweaking but I love it.  I am married to a wonderful man.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Yarn Requirements

Caleb totally needs mittens, it got cold so I finished the first and got the second half done, then it got warm again.  Mittens for one year olds are pretty little so I'm not worried, finishing the second one will take less than an hour so I'm back to knitting the blanket.

I measured it, and by surface area (and the amount of knitting) I am over one third done.  This means to finish I need approximately twice as much more yarn as I have used thus far.  I totally have less yarn than that.  By "less yarn" I mean I have less leftover yarn in the weight the blanket is.  I can absolutely just go and buy some but the act of choosing the next little ball will be lost if I just go out and buy new balls.

I'm going to keep knitting until I run out and see how far I get (my guess it to less than the half way point).

One of the things I've really enjoyed is the fact that I don't have to figure out the next project just so I can have something to knit has meant that I've been thinking about some other projects I've wanted to do but that require some musing before starting.  The metres and metres of stockingette are good for musing.  

Thursday, 18 September 2014

I love starting things

I love new projects, they don't have to be new knitting projects, they can be just about anything.  Sometimes it means things get put on the back burner while I do something else and then gets a little bit forgotten about.  

I was making really good progress on finishing and uploading those knitting patterns when I took a break to research car seats (Caleb is close to the height limit on his current one, I'll need another one in the next couple months.)  Then I started planning Christmas, because that's SUPER-FUN.  I love giving people presents, I have even sorted out what most of them are going to get.  I just need to figure out what to get for my wonderful and completely not-materialistic husband, he says he wants hugs.  I think he should probably have something to unwrap too.

So I'm going to spend some time today on the next pattern to go up on Ravelry, and then I'm going to finish Caleb's first mitten (it got warmer, making it more difficult to put down the blanket, which is an odd exception to my love of starting things).

Monday, 15 September 2014

Winter is Coming

I've been loving the blanket I've been working on, but this weekend made me realize that it is going to have to go on hold this week, until Caleb has mittens.  Fortunately, mittens for a one year old don't take very long to knit (I'm still irrationally fond of my garter stitch blanket on 2.25mm needles).

It's getting cold, although this week is supposed to be warmer than the weekend was.  One of the things I'm loving about the blanket is the lack of swatching and focusing on gauge, I can just knit.  I'm giving myself today, tomorrow I'll make mittens.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Stockings are a go

Last week I got together with my talented father who graciously took pictures of my knitting while Caleb slept.  These are some of them.



Croix de Noel
Etoile de Noel
Fleur de Noel



I love how the photos came out, and I also love how they're now actually uploaded to Ravelry, you can find them in my Ravelry s store here.

They're $5 each and there will be an option to get all three for $12, which will hopefully up next week.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Evolution of taste

As I knit up my leftover bits from the stash I've been noticing how the quality of yarn I've bought over the years has changed.  From my student days there's acrylic with maybe some wool, mostly from Michaels.  Since I've graduated there's been nicer yarn from local yarn shops.  As I've knit some of the leftovers of a friend I've really noticed the difference in quality.

I don't normally pay a lot of attention to how the yarn feels in my hands, especially if it's knitting from the stash.  I try not to complain about things I can't change and if it's in the stash I should use it without complaining or give it away.  I normally avoid cotton since I don't love how it feels and won't dream of using old plasticy yarns anymore (though I was once given an entire garbage bag of that), but usually choose based on what I need for a project, not the tactile sense of the thing.

My friend's leftover yarn may have changed that, it feels absolutely lovely in my hands.  I wonder if the simpleness of the pattern is helping me notice it as well, kind of like how they say that people who are blind and deaf have a heightened awareness of their other senses.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Photos

Yesterday I got together with my parents and my dad took pictures of my knitting while Caleb slept, which means I have five patterns that are very very close to being ready to be uploaded to Ravelry.

The photos turned out remarkably well, my dad has a really good eye and a really good camera and the combination is pretty stellar.

I'm hoping to have at least one pattern uploaded to Ravelry by the end of next week.

The blanket is still delightful, and I'm going to go knit it some more as soon as I've done some laundry.

Monday, 25 August 2014

My husband is hilarious

We were driving home from church yesterday when my husband nonchalantly asked me if I like gorfing.

"What's gorfing?" I asked.

"It's knitting really really fast."

"Why?"

"Because it's to frog backwards."

I laughed and laughed.  I think it's pretty awesome that my husband made a knitting joke.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Ever so blessed

A couple of weeks ago at crafternoon (which I still think is an awesome name for a knitting group) I was talking about my blanket and one of my friends asked if I had enough scraps to make an entire blanket.  I replied that I didn't think so, but the nature of this blanket means that when I run out I can just buy a ball or two at a time until it's big enough.

Two of them looked at me like I was nuts then told me not to buy yarn, because they had lots and lots of little leftover balls they didn't know what to do with but didn't want to throw out.  I now have one substantial bag of such little balls, which means every time I run out of one colour not only do I get to pick new yarn but I get to pick yarn that's a present.

I don't think the creator of this pattern had any intention of anyone making it in leftover sock yarn and having this much fun, but man do I love this project.

Monday, 18 August 2014

A never ending blanket and some charts

I still love the blanket.  I thought maybe I would get bored, it is entirely garter stitch, after all.  Perhaps I will get bored eventually but not yet, right now I love it.  I love picking a new colour when my yarn runs out.  I love trying to figure out how far I'll get before my current ball runs out.  I love trying to figure out which yarn to use next and changing my mind.  I love how you can really see how colours play off one another when you cover up parts of the blanket and just look at two yarns side by side and how one of those yarns can look completely different beside a different yarn.

I have been diligently working on the charts for the patterns I want to get done. I've been spending much more than 10 minutes a day on it, but I've finally figured out how I want them to look so my progress has sped up considerably, I expect the subsequent charts will go much more quickly than this one.

Eating ice cream makes working on charts much more enjoyable.  I have finished my housework for the day (except the laundry, but that's in the machine and it's not at a stage that needs my attention) so I will eat ice cream and work on charts.


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Designing and Planning

Someone bought the pattern I have up on Ravelry, which I'm pretty excited about.  I've been organizing the ones I wanted to release in the fall and I've discovered that somehow my plan for 5 turned into about 10 and I was still trying to get them all ready so the photos could be done together.

Yesterday I had a realization that this plan was not going to work and revised it.  There are six that are almost done, my goal is to have them ready for September.  The others aren't far along that my original timeline is going to work for them, which is fine, they will be ready sometime in the winter.

In the last year I've learned that one key to my sanity is making plans that actually make sense.  Planning to clean the entire house in one day while taking care of a baby?  Not going to happen, so I minds well make goals that are feasible because when goals aren't feasible it's just demoralizing and then I don't want to do anything.  Getting these 6 patterns ready for September is feasible, so that's the goal.  Three are typed, three are typed but need major editing, and one needs just a tiny amount of knitting to be finished, then they need photos.



Monday, 11 August 2014

Funny how they don't write themselves

I've said I wanted to have several patterns done for the fall.  I've done a fair amount of work on them this summer.  I have five finished objects and one almost finished object.  The charts are done but need to be tweaked and a good amount of the pattern information has been typed.  Mostly it's editing and other finishing touches, plus the photos.

It's amazing how time flies.  This summer has been crazy and amazing and I can hardly believe where we are.  A year ago things were really busy, because we had a newborn, who is now a little boy.  Nine months ago we were getting our last home ready to sell, and working long hours to make it happen.  Six months ago we were keeping everything perfect for showings.  Four months ago I was packing while Joshua was at work, and we moved and then I was unpacking.

But now it's like I've been holding my breath for almost a year and I've finally exhaled.  There has been so much pressure over the last year and it's like we've been going with ur heads down through a tunnel and we've finally gotten to the other side.

All that to say, that working on patterns no longer feels like one thing in a list I can never get through, which is so great.

Friday, 8 August 2014

In Love With It

The blanket is coming along swimmingly.  I've decided to make it five feet square, it is over one foot square now.  (I realize that means I'm 4% of the way because one foot square is one square foot whereas five feet square is 25 square feet, but it still feels like it's going really fast).

One thing I didn't realize is that each time I run out of one ball of yarn I get to pick another and this feels like I'm starting an entirely new project, because of the picking yarn business.

I may be addicted.


Friday, 1 August 2014

It's just the thing

It seems like I'm forever starting new projects because the one I'm on is at a fussy phase that's not good for knitting group or watching TV.  I don't mind having a couple of things on the needles at once but it's more fun to start something because I want to than to start something just so I have something to knit.

I was thinking about this and then thought about how the Yarn Harlot always seems to have a pair of plain vanilla socks on the needles, and I had this epiphany that those vanilla socks, or something like them, is what I needed; something that I could always work on but without necessarily having a deadline, something I could knit when I got to the fussy parts of other projects but wanted to knit something simple.

I'm not a huge fan of knitting socks, I don't mind them but I don't love them (I think it's because no one gets to see them...).  I was also thinking about the fact that it would be best if whatever I choose could use up some of my stash because I have all these balls of yarn that are leftover from other projects and are taking up space for no good reason.

I was looking on Ravelry and I came accross a pattern for a baby blanket that I made for a friend a couple of years ago.  It's this, and it's absolutely perfect.  It only has 20 stitches on the needle at the time, so I don't need long needles, it's simple but not boring, I can use a bunch of different yarns to use up my scraps, and when I run out of scraps in the right weight I can just buy a couple of balls at a time.

I've started and I'm loving the way it's knitting up.  The narrow stripes really show off the self-striping yarns and I love the way the various colours look together.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Something big

Yesterday I realized the dress I'm making for my niece is going quite quickly.  It makes sense when I think about it, the bodice is knit while the skirt is sewn and a knitted bodice to fit a 6 month old is not very big.

As I thought about this I realized I should either do something to make my knitting last through my Tuesday knitting group or cast on something else so I'll definitely have something to knit there tomorrow.  I have tried casting on there, it just doesn't mix well with trying to talk to people while paying attention to Caleb.

I have a list of things I want to knit, they're all gifts for friends that they've requested and they're all pretty small.  A tea cozy, a pair of mittens, little things that will be used and loved but overall don't add up to a big project.  I like all of the things I plan to knit but feel like I'm always casting on.

To that end I wove in the ends of two pairs of mittens yesterday to try to get that finished, and then knit a little bit on the dress.  I'll totally be done today the main part today, which means I'll have to cast on a new project so I have something on the needles tomorrow.  (Sewing up seams and doing fancy edging are also tasks that aren't super-compatible with my knitting group.)

I want to make something big.  To start something and have it stretch out in front of me and finish little by little, to have it be a constant for a while.  I'm still ruminating on what, but I want it to be big.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Colour

Recently I've made two pairs of fair isle mittens, the first took longer than normal because I kept ripping it out when I wasn't happy with my colour selection.  I spent time planning the second pair of mittens and was much happier with the result (and process), but I concluded I'd like to learn more about colours and how they work together.  I ordered some books from the library (I love the library), and this week one of my holds came in, Exploring Color in Kitting.

It's a quick read (I read through the entire thing during one of Caleb's naps), but gives a really good overview of selecting colours and things we can consider when deciding on colour combinations.  I like that it's specifically about colour in knitting, they point out that a painter can mix different colours of ink  but that knitters have to chose from available yarns (unless you're cool and dye your own and are good enough to tweak the dye to get exactly what you want, I am not that cool yet).

I like how they talk about how different stitch patterns can play with colour, and how to break down what's happening in a colour way so you can understand it better, which in turn can inform our choices about how we're going to change it.

They show swatches in multiple colourways to demonstrate what they're talking about which is fantastic and doesn't get too far away from the concrete.  The book is well written, well photographed, and well organized.

I'm going to read it again and take a few notes.  I like this one a lot.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Somewhat distracted

Every week I go to a knitting group. It's an absolutely lovely haven of adult conversation. I don't get a ton of knitting done at it because we're talking and I'm trying to prevent Caleb from getting in trouble, but it's still wonderful.

I call it a knitting group because that's what I do there and what most of us do but actually it's a craft group and a few weeks ago one of the some organized a tea bag folding lesson for whoever wanted to try.

I am now making two wreathes. My knitting has had some slow progress as I have been a tad distracted.

I'm about to start a lovely dress for my niece, though. I'm very pleased with the fabric and yarn, and today I will swatch.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Almost enough

The colourwork mittens I'm making are using up leftover balls of yarn.  As a result when I planned out which colours would be used for which parts of the pattern I was making a guess that I would have the right amounts.  The guess wasn't completely random, I weighed all the balls before I started and assigned the larger balls to the large sections and the smaller parts to the smaller sections, and I was fairly confident I would have the right amount but it was still a guess.

In these mittens there are two sections that use green, at the tip of the mittens (which is the start, as the mittens are made top-down), and a large stripe of green and white colourwork around the hand.  As I started this stripe on the second mitten I looked at the yarn I had left and wondered if it would be enough.  As I neared the halfway point of the stripe I realized it would be pretty close.

I ran out of yarn about 50 stitches short of where I needed to be.  I contemplated my options.  I could order a whole other ball of yarn, which wouldn't be the same dye lot and would mean I'd have to wait to continue.  I could use another colour, which would drive me absolutely batty, and since these mittens are for me isn't an option because I'd never ever ever be able to forget about it.  I sat there for a moment wishing there was a third option until I realized there was a solution.  I wove in the green ends up then spliced the scraps together.

I cannot tell you how relieved this makes me.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

That horrible hat

Lately I've been noticing that I've changed in how I make decisions about my projects, once it was about the finished project.  Would someone notice that a yarn over was missed in a shawl?  Nope, so whatever, I'd add in another stitch randomly so the stitch count would match and carry on.  Would someone notice the tiny mistake in the colourwork twelve rows back?  Nope, I'd knit on.  Would anyone notice that there are 6 colours being used in a fair isle hat and I hadn't cut them between lines?  It only pulls a little, I'll be the only one to know, it's fine.

But I'm different now.  Now the answers to those questions are, "no one else will know, but I will, and I want it to be perfect, perfect for myself."  Part of it is the fact that I'm a perfectionist and have come to appreciate that little things really do make a difference to the overall product and I'm happier putting in the effort to make things right.  But part of it is that I often used to think that since something was only for me it wouldn't matter, and part of growing up has been realizing that if I deserve to have things done well too, and that if something is for me there's all the more reason to make it nice for myself.

My first project that wasn't a scarf was a hat.  I was in high school and while I wasn't broke I was saving for university so money was tight.  Lewis Craft had a drive around Christmas where if you bought yarn from them, then knit it into hats, mitts, or other warm things for the needly and brought the item and your receipt back they would refund the price of the yarn.  I thought this was brilliant so I decided I would make a hat.  I got the yarn and needles and diligently kept the receipt.  I started the hat.  It was taking a really long time so I decided it would go faster if I knit more loosely.  I thought this was also brilliant.  Needless to say the hat was terrible.  Unspeakably terrible.  I lost it at school but found it again to I could take it to the store.  I drove to the mall but when I got there the hat was missing (I have since concluded that God was trying to prevent me from making a total fool of myself).

Sometimes I'll think of that hat when I'm ripping back to fix something small, the difference between how I approach knitting now so different from how I approached it then making it seem almost like the decisions were made by two different people.  Perhaps, in a way, they were.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Mitten Love

The second pair of mittens are coming along beautifully, I love how they're turning out.  (I have made absolutely no progress on my pile of almost finished objects because these are so much fun).  I have a thing for mittens, they're probably one of my favourite projects.  I'm not sure exactly what it is that captivates me about them, it might be because they're visible when worn, or the fact that you can do so much with them, or the fact that they don't need a lot of yarn so it's easier to afford the good stuff, or the fact that they get done relatively quickly, or that they're easily portable, or maybe it's the combination of all three, but I do know that I love them.

Now when I say I love knitting mittens I don't mean that I like making plain ones out of worsted yarn (not that there's anything wrong with that) but fancy colourwork ones out of sock weight.  I've knit a ton of them in the last three years, and as I was knitting these I was reminded of the book that really got me hooked, Colorwork Creations by Susan Anderson-Freed.  It has patterns for toques, tams, mittens, fingerless mittens, and gloves with a woodland theme (birds, reindeer, etc), and they are beautiful.  The patterns are clearly written and the charts are large enough to be read easily.  The book is extremely well done and the reason why I have a ton of leftover balls of drops alpaca yarn hanging around (which is also amazing in its own right).  I've made more projects from this book than any other pattern book I've ever bought and think they're all stunning.

One thing I really like about these patterns is that the mittens are knit top down (you make the thumb first).  That way you don't have the entire weight of the mitten pulling on the thumb that you knit last while trying to force yourself to finish because thumbs are boring.  Nope, this way you get it over with while the project is still new and exciting and you're not thinking about all the amazing things you're going to knit next.

As I made my current pair of mittens (not from this book), I started to look back through it.  I think my next project is going to be a tam.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Learning with Mittens

I haven't put the finishing touches on the projects I wrote about in my last post but I have begun another pair of fair isle mittens. It was really interesting to experiment with what did and didn't work with the last pair but this pair I wanted to be able to just sit down and knit, so before I begun I sat down and planned out which colours I would use for each part using what I had learned from my trial and error pair of mittens. This is what I learned:

1. Fair isle depends on contrast to be seen, there are some pairings of colours that look lovely together but were too close to each other for the pattern to stand out. I consistently underestimated how much contrast I needed.

2.  Fair isle is a good opportunity to use bolder colour combinations than I would normally have thought I liked, especially in smaller motifs.

3.  Some motifs are spread over enough rows that they start with one pair of colours, change in the middle, then return to the first set at the end. I found that it works best to have either the two main colours or two contrasting colours be of the same family (for example red and maroon) for the design to stand out instead of getting lost. I can see that this wouldn't be the case in all designs but for some of the smaller ones I was using it's hard to see the stitch pattern as clearly when the same design traveled through different colour families.

I had a ton of fun with the first pair and am really looking forward to see how my current pair will turn out as I use what I learned last time.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Vacation Knitting

We just got back from a lovely week in Vermont, I didn't get as much knitting as I expected done, partly due to my multiple rip-outs of mittens and partly due to the fact that I packed more than I needed, but that's fine. Who wants to risk not having enough knitting?  Not me.

Things I got done:
1.  The blue shawl, I just need to block it.
2.  Caleb's hat, but not his mitts.
3.  One pair of fair isle mittens (weaving in the ends).

I'll post pictures when the last step is done for them. :)

Monday, 30 June 2014

Intangible Progress

I'm really enjoying working in a pair of fair isle mittens, which is somewhat surprising given that I've ripped parts of them out and tinked back other parts back numerous times. If all of the knitting I've done on them was actual progress I'd be almost done the first one, instead it's about 2" long.

Before we left for vacation I'd swatched, gotten gauge, and charted out all of the design projects I planned on working on. I figured this would virtually eliminate moments like this. When I planned these mittens I'd put a lot of thought into the fair isle motifs themselves, but when I chatted them out in Numbers I just used pair of high contrast colours so the chart would be easy to read later; to borrow a phrase from a friend it looked like a drunk clown picked the colours.  I have a bag of balls of drops alpaca (which I love, I have made about a dozen pairs of mitten with it) all different colours and I figured I'd just pick the colours as I went. I decided I would be spontaneous (which is entirely out of character for me).

I sat down to knit them on Monday and picked 6 balls of yarn, they were beautiful grays and purples that looked lovely together. But when I used them there wasn't enough contrast to make the pattern stand out. I abandoned that color combination and went for another, mixing colours wildly but decided it looked wonky; where the light and dark colours were just didn't work.

I'm still happily working on them, each new motif has gotten ripped out at least once as I fiddle with the colours, but I'm pleased with what I'm getting and I think the fact that I'm enjoying the process is because I'm learning, it's progress, just of a different sort.

Friday, 27 June 2014

An Ode to My Socks


I love this poem by Pable Neruda.  He captures the delight we all hope to give when we give someone something we've made.

Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
Violent socks,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.
Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
keep fireflies,
as learned men collect
sacred texts,
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.
The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Design It, Knit It, Babies

I love knitting books and am always interested in what other people have been looking at so I've decided to start reviewing the ones I've been reading.

Recently I've read Debbie Bliss' Design It, Knit It, Babies. I really love her magazine and I thought the fact that she talks about the design process was really interesting.  That being said, it includes some lovely patterns that are worth checking out even if you're not interested in the design aspect of the book.

I found the book was approachable and well organized, it addressed both visual aspects such as mixing texture with colourwork as well as practical concerns, like making sure a sweater's shape accommodates the bulk of a diaper at the bottom. I really appreciated the fact the the book isn't simply a version of her Design It, Knit It with baby patterns substituted for adult ones, but that the content addresses concerns that are specific to babies such as the importance of being able to wash things easily and that the yarn recommendations reflect that as well.

There is at least one pattern that also appeared in one of the Debbie Bliss magazines, so if you have all the issues of that you'll have some repeats. 

I do find that her sizing is quite big and usually end up knitting a size down. Caleb's average size and when I compare her schematics to his store bought clothes Bliss' patterns consistently come out bigger. That's not a problem but something to be aware of when picking a size to knit.  She also tends to make sweaters in many peices that have to be sewn together at the end. It's not my favourite way to construct a sweater but the patterns are so beautiful that I usually follow her instructions anyways. They could be altered to be knit in the round without too much trouble.

I got this book from the library but now it's on my list to buy, I plan to make a number of patterns from it and will enjoy this book for quite some time.

I'd love to hear what you're reading in the comments!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Sweaters and Food Scales

The knitting for Caleb's moose sweater to done, I have a ton of ends to weave in and some sewing to do.  I'm not sure when that will happen as the next couple of days are really busy, but we'll see.  It was a close call with the yarn, I made some changes to the pattern to accommodate it and some of the colours I have about a meter to spare.

If you see the post on June 9th there's a picture of the sweater.  I did the main colour two different colours, and the sleeve cuff's are the same as the collar rather than continuing in the orange.  I also make the arm's stripes slightly thicker because I had ample yarn in those colours and adding a few more rows of that yarn meant I'd be able to get all the way to the cuffs in the main colour.  I'll post pictures when it's sewn up.

Sweaters are a bit finicky when trying to use up leftovers as we usually want the two sides and the two sleeves to match one another.  I've found my food scale really helpful for situations such as this.  Before I started the sleeves I weighed each ball of yarn and wrote down how many grams I had, then as I was knitting the first sleeve I'd periodically weigh the ball of yarn that was left.  When it got to half the eight it was when I started I knew I had to save the rest for the second sleeve.

When I started knitting I'd be really faithful to the pattern and wouldn't have tried to make something without knowing I had the right amount of each of the colours.  I've gotten a lot more comfortable in problem solving, and if you're stuck because you've run out I've found that a really good solution is to look at what other parts of the pattern do and see if I can incorporate those elements into the solution.  This helps tie things together visually and makes it look like it was a motif instead of just what happens when you run out of yarn.

Also, it helps to remember that the people who see the finished garment (usually) won't have seen the pattern.  They'll think it looks good or it doesn't, they won't be focusing on ways it was different from the original instructions.  It's easy to loose sight of that fact when we've been working on something for a while and are hyper-aware that things are not the same as what the designer originally did.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Trouble With Packing

I'm trying to do all the swatching and knitting planning for our upcoming vacation.  I find it's a lot easier this way because it means I have to bring less (and by less, I mean I don't feel compelled to bring all of my needles in case I'm wrong about what I need to get gauge) and because it makes things a lot nicer once we're there.  I can just knit.

This means, however, that most of the knitting related activities I've been doing for the last couple days have been swatching and charting things out, which are my two least favourite parts of knitting.  I do it while fighting the feeling that I just want to get one with it and knit.    So far this is what I have:


1. Plans to make two pairs of mittens, the charting is part of the way done for the first pair, but I feel like I've gained some momentum and it won't be too bad.  (That being said I was feeling pretty twitchy by the time Caleb woke up from his nap yesterday which was when I gave myself permissionto stop working on this.)

2. Plans for a pair of lined mittens.  The fleece lining has been cut out and sewn and the planning of the stitch pattern is sorted.  I still need to swatch but then it's mostly a case of doing that then picking the correct number of stitches I'll need (it needs to be a multiple of 6), which isn't too hard or time consuming.

3.  The shawl I've been working on and put on hold for the drive, just need to pack the right needle tips (I'm using the addi clicks, and have taken the tips to use on Caleb's sweater, but that's almost done).

4. The hat and mitt set I was working on before I started Caleb's sweater--just need to throw everything in a bag and go.

5.  An idea for a tea cozy, this requires me to do a little math and typing today, and it feels like a chore.

6.  Enough yarn to make a second shawl if I finish all the other knitting (this is my contingency knitting, I don't actually care if this happens but I'm worried there won't be enough knitting otherwise).

7.  The pattern for my niece's Christmas present that I have to remember to pack because I want to get the materials at our destination.

The amount of things still to do doesn't look nearly so bad when written out like that (it may also help that laundry, grocery shopping, and actual packing have all been left off the list).

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Frustrated

I've been working on Caleb's sweater which is adorable.  I'm a bit frustrated for two reasons, the first being that I've had to rip out and reknit things a number of times which is annoying.  None of the issues are major and are all my fault (a problem with gauge, a mistake in the colourwork, failing to notice the "at the same time" instruction for the neck decreases), but if all of the knitting I've done had actually been progress instead of being ripped out I'd be almost done.

The second reason is I can help thinking that this would work so much better as a top down raglan.  Less sewing, and none of the design bits would be lost.  It's fine though, I should hopefully be able to avoid any more gaffes and get through it, it is looking quite nice.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Using the Stash

I've been reading Debbie Bliss' Design It, Knit It, Babies and have had my eye on this sweater pattern for Caleb.
It's really cute and would be fun to knit, it also requires 4 different colours, which is a bit of a dealbreaker for me when buying yarn because it makes things a lot more expensive.  I don't mind spending money on yarn, and I'm happy to buy good quality materials for something I'm going to wear for years.  I will also buy good quality materials for Caleb, but when things get to be double what they need to cost because I need so many colours?  Not going to happen.

Then I got to thinking about how many projects I've used Cascade 220 for and wondered if I might have enough to make the sweater without buying any yarn.  I have a ton of scraps.  I hurried over to my glass-front cabinet (I LOVE that I can see all of my yarn through it), and started pulling yarn out.

I think I have enough, if I use a different colour for the main colour above and below the colourwork.  They're two different blues, but are close enough that it looks like I did it on purpose (at least that's what I'm hoping).  So with that, and a measure of hope I cast on.  It's blue and green and while I wouldn't have arranged the colours how they are if I were picking them in the store, I think it's going to work.  It's a quick knit and I expect it won't be too long before I have it finished.

I really hope I have enough yarn.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

not knitting but oh so pretty

I'm normally much more enthusiastic about knitting than sewing, but I have a dear friend that loves sewing and came across this amazing bib pattern.  She organized a bunch of us to order laminated cotton from the States (apparently it's difficult/impossible to find in Canada) and we had a sewing party on Sunday.  It was so much fun, and so so nice to get out without children (we will conveniently ignore the fact that the party was about baby bibs).

I had a bunch of fabric left over, so am having a ball cutting fabric for these beautiful lunch bags and these snack bags.  I'm stuck until I can get my hands on velcro, but should be able to pick that up on Sunday.

In the meantime I've decided to put the shawl oh hold (I'm anticipating a long car ride in the next few weeks and that will be perfect), and am making an adorable hat and mitt set for Caleb that is going along swimmingly.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Proud

I've mentioned before that while I love knitting and designing getting the patterns typed up, formatted nicely, and then putting everything together with the photos definitely feels like work to me.  It could be that will change in the future, I used to hate finishing and now, while not my favourite part, it's something I don't mind at all and maybe eventually this will feel like that.

At the moment though, it's work, which is why I'm incredibly proud to have four patterns solidly on their way to be ready to put up on Ravelry.  Three are for Christmas stockings.  Yes, I know, it's May, this just means that in the fall when people are starting to think about Christmas they will be totally ready.  I made them last year but have procrastinated about typing them up.  I was feeling guilty about that and then I realized that in the last 6 months we have sold our house and moved, which is difficult at the best of times and having a baby around complicates things and I really have accomplished a lot.  I'm trying to be more generous with myself.

The fourth pattern is for a beautiful hat and mitt set for Caleb.  It's not the one I decided wasn't going to work, I have plans to make two sets, because children either loose or soak through mitts and hats so it's good to have a spare set.  I have swatched, and typed up things and am almost ready to start making them and I am so so so pleased with the project already.

It feels good to get stuff done.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Almost Didn't Make It

I'm making a shawl, it's a beautiful yarn that I had left over from a sweater I started years ago.  The sweater is beautiful, it is also too small but it was so much work I can't bring myself to give it away.  I've decided to keep it until I'm done having children, if I have a daughter she'll have a beautiful complicated sweater that will fit like a charm when she's about 10.  (I'm fairly small, but not quite small enough to get into it, blocking helped but not enough.)

I have a ton of yarn left over and when my knitting group decided to do a knit-along I thought it would be perfect, it's the blue the colour of the Caribbean Sea and the pattern is supposed be like waves.  It has a ton of stockinette and then the lace at the edges.  My yarn was a bit thinner than the pattern called for and the shawl's finished measurements were a bit smaller than I would have liked so I did the math, figured out how many stitches I should increase to before starting the lace if I wanted a few more repeats across and went at it.

It was going swimmingly (water themed pun, anyone?) for a while and then it got kind of boring.  Very boring in fact.  So boring that it felt like it hurt to keep going, which was particularly frustrating because this happened when I was 5 rows away from the lace.  I took a break to swatch for some mitts I wanted to make Caleb and resumed slogging through.

I made it, and the lace is so much more interesting.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

This Is Not Going To Work

I had this vision of the hat and mitt set I wanted to make Caleb.  There's an absolutely beautiful stitch pattern in one of my stitch dictionaries, it uses two colours and it looks like a bed of starfish.  It was perfect, except it's not.

It's annoying and fiddly to work, and while I can totally get over those two things the actual fabric looks fine from a few feet but when it has holes similar to those found in crochet fabric, which is not what I'm going for.  So me and my stitch dictionaries have a date during Caleb's afternoon nap.  It's going to be great, it's grey and cool outside and I'm going to have tea and knitting stuff.

It's a pity, the hat looked so pretty in my head.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Kids are Funny

This weekend we had friends of ours over for dinner.  I had a conversation with their four year old that went like this.

Child: "Do you have a cat?"

Me: "No."

Child: "Do you have a dog?"

Me: "No, do--"

Child: "Then WHY do you have yarn?"

Amazing.

Friday, 23 May 2014

How we change

I used to love finishing projects.  Not the sewing up and weaving in ends but having the finished project in my hands.  For quite some time I'd be willing to overlook mistakes or fudge things so I wouldn't have to go back but could keep going.  I was thinking about this in the shawl I'm making.  I realized I missed a yard over a good while back, and I thought to myself "I can just create another stitch in this row, it's not obvious."  I could have, it wouldn't have been obvious to anyone.  You'd have to look for the mistake to find it.

It was driving me crazy.

I ripped backed to fix it, and I told myself the thing I always tell myself while fixing mistakes like this.

I like knitting.  This is just more knitting.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Best Laid Plans

I am pretty Type A.  I have lists for everything, including a queue of things to knit.  It's peculiar but I almost never follow it.  Sure, some things on that list get knit, but there are always sidetracks and random projects that come out of left field.

Before the knitting group last week my plan looked like this.

1.  Finish Caleb's sweater
2.  Make Caleb a hat and mitt set out of the leftover yarn
3.  Make my friend Catherine a tea cozy.
4.  Make Caleb another sweater.

Then one lady shows up with a really pretty shawlette and now my plan looks like this.

1.  Finish Caleb's swea---I have yarn for that shawl... hmmm...
2.  Wait, what?

Friday, 16 May 2014

Community

Up until moving got crazy I used to go to a moms' group twice a week, the songs were annoying and I'd spent the rest of the week cursing the fact that a song that went "flitter-flutter, flitter-flutter" over and over and over again was stuck in my head but regularly hanging out with other adults was so worth it.  There was something about those meetings that kept me sane.

There's nothing like that within walking distance of our new house (that I know of).  If I drive Joshua to work I can take the car for the day but that disrupts Caleb's naps so the payoff of having it has to be pretty good for me to want to do that.  Half an hour of annoying songs wasn't quite cutting it.

Joshua was picking up some Debbie Bliss books I had on hold on the way home from work last week.  When the librarians noticed he was getting knitting books they immediately asked him who in the family knits and does that person have plans Tuesday afternoons.  There's a "crafternoon" at the library on Tuesday and they were open to having a 9 month old join them.  (I love the name, it's dorky but awesome.)  So this Tuesday we went and I spent an hour with adults who like to talk about knitting.   There was tea, chocolate, and maracas (the maracas were what occupied Caleb while I talked with adults, amazing.)

I love knitting librarians.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Maybe I'm Making This More Complicated Than It Needs To Be

There's a beautiful stitch pattern I've decided I really like for Caleb's hat, and it's written flat in the stitch dictionary.  If I knit it in the round then it's almost all purling, but it's finicky if I try to change it to almost all knitting.

I've been thinking about this until I came upon a rather simple answer.  I could just make the hat flat.  I generally try to avoid that because I prefer knitting in the round to sewing up seams but in this case it just might make sense, it would certainly simplify things.

Funny how the obvious answers are the ones that can take the longest to come to us.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

That awkward point

Caleb's sweater is on the last part of knitting, the trim around the hood and front, which means that soon I'll be sewing it rather than knitting, which means I need to get another project on the needles soon, so I'll have something to knit.  As much as I love the planning part of projects there's something about it that I sometimes find a bit irritating, and I was contemplating this the other day and I think I've figured out what it is:  Sometimes I just want to knit.  Not swatch, measure, draw, and do math (though I love those things too), but knit, which means that by the time one project is ready to be made up I want the next one started so I can just sit and knit if I want to.

With this in mind I began organizing my next project which will be a hat and mitt set for Caleb, I have the yarn and the stitch pattern all picked out and just need to research the measurements I need (it's for the winter so measuring Caleb's head now is of limited use) and swatch.  I got the measurements this morning from here and went to swatch when I realized I can't find my stitch dictionary.  I can find Volumes 1, 3, and 4.  Unfortunately the stitch pattern I had picked out is in volume 2.  I've looked through the house but still can't find the thing, which means I have to wait until my husband gets home (he's like The Finder, that show was amazing.)

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

A Boy After My Own Heart

Every so often I'm happily knitting away when I have to drop what I'm doing to do something, usually because Caleb's just woken up.  I'll get him and we'll play for a while, but if I turn my back for a minute there's a good chance that when I turn around again he'll have my knitting.  If not the knitting itself then something connected to it; needles, a ball band, the knit kit, the next ball of yarn to be added to the project.  He always looks so pleased with himself too.

I hope he'll knit someday. 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Home

We've been unpacking for a while, it's gotten to the point where everything crucial is done but there's always lots of other things to do.  Some of those things aren't going to matter for a while (the Christmas ornaments are okay where they are) and others are things that matter but haven't been a priority.

Up until yesterday my knitting nook was filled with boxes, and I'd look at it and wish that I could actually use it but then go on to either something that seemed more important or yet another load of laundry.  Yesterday we arranged the furniture and I started unpacking.  There's a table with a sewing machine and beside it a glass fronted cabinet with most of my yarn.  On another wall there's another one with books and notions.

It's wonderful.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Progress

Caleb's little sweater is coming along well now that I'm actually working on it.  I've got the front and back plus one of the sleeves done, the second sleeve is in the works and is looking decent.  After this I sew the front and back shoulder seams so I can start the hood, which is followed by the edging around the front.

The pattern is from a Debbie Bliss magazine which I absolutely love.  I find a lot of magazines have things that, while interesting or challenging, aren't things I would ever wear or use but that her magazines usually have a number of things I like.  For Christmas I was given a gift certificate to use for her magazines and I haven't gone to get new issues yet (the local shop sells back copies and I'm not particularly worried about them running out) because as soon as I get them I want to look through them and as soon as I look through them I want to start new projects and that's not a way to get things done.

I do have a bunch of things I want to knit next, a tea cozy for a friend of mine, a hat and mitt set for Caleb, and another sweater for Caleb (I want to design that one, haven't started yet, but have a ton of ideas, I'm thinking a cardigan and currently can't decide on the neckline) plus there's something I want to make for my soon-to-be-born niece, but that requires sewing on top of knitting and I need to consult a friend before I get started because I can't for the life of me understand the sewing directions.

I love, love, love that things are actually getting knit again around here.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Making time

Since we've moved I've had some time to knit, but it's really easy to set it aside to do things that seem more important.  Admittedly the kitchen needed to be unpacked and Caleb's room needed to be useable pretty much right away, but I've hit a point where things are functional, and while there are things that need to be done, I don't need to only work on the house.  I still feel lazy when I sit down to knit when I know there are still things to be done.

However, there will always be more work to be done around the house and I've decided that if I've put in a good effort at getting a few things done each day then I'm no going to feel bad about relaxing.  Tomorrow during Caleb's afternoon nap it's supposed to be raining, and I will be sitting in our family room with a cup of tea and his sweater.  I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A place of my own

Since I moved away to university I've lived in a number of different places.  The places I've been at have gotten progressively nicer over time but none of my former homes had a really good place for yarn, so my knitting stuff has always been in several storage containers that stacked on each other.  It was an adequate but not fantastic solution, since I couldn't really see where anything was and getting at the containers was sometimes difficult, but up to this point a yarn storage solution wasn't really something I could make a requirement for my housing choices.

Our new home has this area on the second story which the floor plans label as a "nook."  It's small, at the top of the stairs, and is in this little corner between two of the bedrooms.  We had originally thought we were going to put a computer desk in there but after some discussion have decided that for the time being it's going to be a knitting nook, which I'm thrilled out.  At the moment it's a mess, because the kitchen, family room, and out bedrooms have taken a hire priority that my knitting stuff but I'm so looking forward to having a place for my yarn and notions where things can be nicely organized instead of shoved away in storage totes.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

For the last few weeks knitting has been relegated to the back burner while I packed and packed for the move.  Every so often something will come up like this that makes life crazy and means I'm so busy I don't knit much, because in any free time I'm either working or so tired I'm sitting like a zombie enjoying just being still.

Every time one of those seasons passes and I pick up the needles again I have this wonderful moment of "Oh, how I've missed you" as I remember exactly how much I enjoy this.  I love the warm feeling of making something that will make someone I love warm and cozy, and it always seems like I hadn't realized how much I'd been missing knitting.

I'm almost done the front of Caleb's blue sweater, it's lovely.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Perfect Thing

I have heard of knitters that knit items and decide who they'll give them to later.  For the life of me I cannot do this.  In order for me to cast on I have to know who will be getting the finished item, because I have to know that it's the perfect pattern for them and so that when it's finished they'll get something that's made for them with the backdrop of whatever it is having been lovingly crafted with them in my thoughts as I make each stitch.

Last summer I decided to make a hat for this lovely lady I'm acquainted with from church and as I made it I thought to myself "oh Jane will love this."  When I returned from my vacation I discovered that Jane is the lady's best friend's name and I had been reversing their names in my head since I had met them.  I can't for the life of me bring myself to give the hat to either of them because in each case it's wrong and so the hat lives in this weird state of limbo in my front closet.

It's been almost a year since another friend asked me to knit her something.  She doesn't want anything in particular, just something made by me.  As I've looked at patterns and thought of ideas I haven't hit on anything that's right.  I haven't forgotten but I just can't figure out what would be the perfect thing for her.  I'm aware that this hang up is about me more than it's about her; when I finally find something, make it, and give it to her she isn't going to look at it and wonder why it's not the perfect gift ever.

I still can't start a project for her yet, I haven't found anything perfect.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Knit Kit



I was given a knit kit about five years ago, it's like the swiss army knife of knitting.  It has a row counter (that's easy to operate one handed), a retractable tape measure, a tool to measure the size of your needles, a yarn cutter, a crochet hood, plus a little compartment with scissors approved for air travel, stitch markers, a darning needle, and those covers for the end of your needles that I can never remember the name of.  I absolutely love it.  So does Caleb, if I leave it within his reach he will have it faster than anything, although I think we appreciate it for slightly different reasons (mine having more to do with knitting and less to do with teething, but I digress).

I love it so much that when my first one broke (a small plastic thing that works to retract the tape measure snapped and super-glue wasn't strong enough to hold it) I immediately went out and attempted to buy another one.  I say attempted because when I went to the lovely people at the Unwind Yarn House where it was purchased to buy a replacement they insisted on giving me a free one because it had broken.  I went with every intention of paying for another one, they're not expensive and I'd had it for three years and used it to death which I explained to the owner but nevertheless she sent me away with a complementary bright pink new knit kit (the company does one colour run at a time, I never would have chosen pink but that's what they were selling then).

I'm normally not into gadgets or stuff and am usually happiest with the old standbys of pretty much anything as opposed to something with a bit more wiz-bang but I can't say enough good things about this.  I especially love that I can operate the counter without putting down anything, I find it so much easier to use than the ones that go on needles.  I have added safety pins to its little compartment and it lives in my knitting bag.  At whatever time my current one meets its end I will immediately go out and buy another.

I just wish it came in bright green.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Value for the Money

The other day I was in a kid's clothing store looking at clothes for Caleb.  There was a really cute knit sweater in the size Caleb would be next fall, then I looked at the price tag and immediately thought "there's no point buying this, I could buy a sweater's worth of yarn for that much and make it myself, that's a much better deal."  In most cases having to do the work myself would make it less desirable, but with knitting it's the opposite.

Hand knits are better anyways.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Sweaters

Sweaters are pretty much my favourite thing to knit and I'm really enjoying how Caleb's little blue sweater is coming together.  The back is done and the front is about 4" long.  It feels like it hasn't grown much in the past few days and last night I realized that's probably because I haven't been knitting it very much, (funny how things like moving decreases my knitting time).  It is getting bigger though and I'm absolutely in love with it.

I have several ideas for other little sweaters for him, including one that looks like a Star Trek Uniform.  The thing is, there are a bunch of engineers in the family and I'd love to do a red one, but then I'm stuck with the problem of dressing my kid like all the guys that die immediately after getting beamed down somewhere unfortunate.  I've been looking at stills and it seems like the ones that get zapped, mauled, impaled, or otherwise unfortunately killed are ensigns or lieutenants while Scotty's a lieutenant commander so I'm debating about whether or not it would be acceptable to make it red and just make sure the stripes on the arms are correct.

I'm also debating about what it says about me that I bothered to research that...

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

How I Fell In Love With Circulars

When I started knitting I started using straights, which I think is pretty common.  After a few mitten projects worked flat I discovered double pointed needles which I immediately took a liking to, as finishing has never been my favourite part of a project.  A few projects I did called for circulars because the number of stitches just wouldn't work well on straights and while I did use them I never liked them. Then one Christmas I was given a set of addi turbo click interchangeable circular needles.  The set comes with three cords of varying lengths and sets of tips in varying sizes, which you can combine to make whatever combination you need.  It was a beautiful gift but I didn't think I would get much use out of it, I didn't like circulars after all.

They sat in their case for some time before I pulled them out for a project that required circulars at which point I made several discoveries.


  1. While dirt-cheap straight needles work fine (it's pretty hard to screw up a pointed stick with a bobble on the end which is pretty much what a straight needle it) the same is not true of circulars because the quality of the materials and workmanship effects the join between the cord and the needle.  If you buy cheap circulars you get a join that snags your yarn and annoys you forever, this is not true of some of the more expensive circulars.
  2. You can knit with circulars on buses, plans, trains, in waiting rooms and various other crowded situations without poking the person sitting next to you with the back end of your straight knitting needle. 
  3. Because circular needles are shorter they are less likely to work their way through the fabric of your backpack and stab your friend walking next to you (sorry Maria).
I'm normally pretty frugal, but I think part of that is knowing when to buy good quality that I'll use rather than crap that I'll hate but won't want to replace, and circular knitting needles are one of the things that I'm happy to buy good quality so I'm happy with how it works.


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Typing Out Patterns

I've been making up my own patterns for years now, usually they're drawn out with notes and measurements everywhere, and most of the time the finished pieces come out as I intended.  The first time I put together a pattern for sale, my Sanquhar Christmas Ornaments, I was surprised at how much work it took to put it together for sale.  When I'm just making something myself it's fine if the instructions are garbled notes with math everywhere and charts that I drew on the back of my grocery list, but if someone is actually going to pay for a pattern it should be clear and well written.

There was one time I bought a pattern on Ravelry which I was really excited about.  It was absolutely beautiful, I went out and bought yarn that was stunning and sat down to knit it only to discover there were multiple errors throughout the pattern, the instructions weren't clear, and there was missing information.  I realize there are some patterns where an exact gauge isn't necessary, but if you have a pattern that requires a 200 stitch cast on it would be helpful to know what I'm aiming for so my end result resembles the shawl it's supposed to be instead of ending up as a very lacy bedspread.  It drove me absolutely bananas that it was so poorly put together and I never want someone to feel that way about one of my patterns.

At the moment I have a tea-cozy sketched out.  It's really pretty and has some great texture, and I'm at the stage where I'm typing up the line-by-line directions because "and work the middle part between the cables in seed stitch" isn't adequate for a pattern for sale.  I know there are a ton of people who wouldn't have any issue following that instruction, but I think unless the pattern has a disclaimer that the instructions require the knitter to be comfortable interpreting those kind of directions while working around increases or other shaping details it's just not fair to sell it that way.

It is tedious to type them all out though, I'm definitely tempted to just start the knitting.  But if I do that the instructions will never get typed (or not well).  

Monday, 10 March 2014

This calls for ice cream

It's halfway through Caleb's second nap, and I've got the homemade applesauce in the slow cooker, the laundry is in the dryer, and I've made all the phone calls on my to do list, which normally would mean I have time to knit and relax for a little bit.  I thought about that and smiled to myself and went to get the lovely sweater I'm making him, at which point I made a sad realization.

My knitting bag is currently in his room.

I could go get him, but that would wake him up, which (besides being a bad idea because he needs his nap) would completely rule out knitting anyways.

I figured I would work on the thrum mittens then, this could be good for me, it could be an opportunity to finish them.  It would be great.  They're a little thinner than I expected but I've kept going, convinced they'll be fine.

I just tried to put my hand in them, they definitely need to be bigger (in a I-can't-get-my-hand-all-the-way-in sort of way), which is just not something I can deal with right now without being tempted to cut the beautiful yarn and roving into lots and lots of little pieces.  Also, it will be easier to knit them when I can leave the little piles of roving in their colour gradient somewhere without constantly having to put them away for a showing.  So they have been officially retired until we get our house.  (Despite the fact that they're really stunning, they may be the mittens who were not to be.)


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Giving In

I've finished the hands of both thrum mittens, they only need the thumbs.  They're really pretty and I'm pleased about how they're turning out.


I also have this.


I don't know what it is about the mittens but I just want to knit everything else.  I'm normally really good at finishing what I start.  I normally absolutely love mittens.  Somehow this feels like a chore and I don't know why.  They're pretty, I want the end product, they're even a quick knit (there are only 36 stitches per round), but for whatever reason they're just not captivating me.

Caleb's sweater is started, as you can see.  I love the colour and it will look really great on him.  I've done enough research about sizes that I'm reasonably sure this is the right size (I'm aiming for it to fit him throughout next winter), but I keep worrying that it will either be too big or two small and only fit him during the summer.  It should be fine though, he's right around the 50th percentile for weight and height and the measurements I've found online seem reasonable.

I also have plans for a coordinating hat plus a tea cozy made out of the leftover grey yarn.  Currently most of my yarn is in storage so for the next little while there will be an abundance of items knitted out of the same yarn (Berroco Comfort DK) which is fine, I like the yarn and I like the projects I have planned.

I really will finish those mittens one day.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Making Up

I used to hate the making up of seams after I'd finished all the knitting of a project, it was an annoying chore between knitting and the satisfaction of seeing something finished.  I'm coming around to it, it's still not my favourite part of the project but it's also no longer something I put off so I can move on to the next thing.

I finished knitting the little sweater on the weekend and promptly went to work sewing it up.  There wasn't a lot of sewing or ends to weave in so it went pretty quickly as was done by the end of Sunday evening and tried it on Caleb.  This sweater is a gift but I'm hoping it will fit the little guy it's for next winter when he's the same age Caleb is now.  It's absolutely perfect.  The ribbing the cables are worked in make it super-stretchy so it's really easy to get over the baby's head but it's not baggy at all even though there's a lot of room to grow.  The sleeves are a bit long but can be folded over easily enough.  It's warm and cozy and everything I wanted it to be.

I've done the math to make a bigger version for Caleb, since the size he'll be next winter isn't listed in the pattern and it's all I can do to finish the thrum mittens before I start it.  


Yarn: Berroco Comfort DK
Needles: US 4 and 6
Pattern: From Debbie Bliss Winter 2012
Size: 9-12 months
Changes: Shortened the body to 6-9 month measurements
Result: Absolutely love it

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Pick Up Sts

Every so often a pattern will call for a large number of stitches to be picked up along an edge, usually to make a border of some kind.   I used to have issues with this because I'd be working my way along and get to the end of where I'd be supposed to be picking up stitches then realize I had way too many or too few.  In the rare case that I'd get close to the right number I wouldn't have picked them up evenly which meant the edge went on a bit of a bias.  In either case it was super-frusterating.

I eventually decided to give up on eye-balling this sort of thing (unless I only have to pick up a few stitches in which case it's not as much of a big deal if I have to rip it out to correct the problem), and came up with a plan that meant I spent more time knitting and less time pulling out my own hair.

How to pick up a ton of stitches evenly

In the little sweater I'm making the pattern requires 186 stitches picked up around the front and hood, which is enough that I only want to do this once.  I love knitting but this particular step always feels like an annoying chore, partly because I can't do anything else while I'm doing it because I'm counting stitches and partly because it's finicky.  So in order to save myself frustration I did a little math.

Step 1.  Measure the distance the stitches have to cover (in this case how far the front edge is from one side, around the hood, to the other side), which happens to be 31".

Step 2.  Divide the number of stitches to be picked up (186) by that distance (31) to get the number of stitches picked up per inch (6).

Step 3.  Decide how far you're willing to eyeball the stitches.  I can place stitches pretty evenly as long as it's over 2 or 3 inches, so I normally pick one of those number.  In this case I decided I'd pick up 18 stitches every 3 inches (because 6 stitches per inch times 3 inches is 18).

Step 4.  Get out your tape measure and place safety pins every 2 or 3 inches (whichever you picked in step 3) along your border.


Step 5.  Pick up your little groups of stitches (in my case 18 stitches between each set of safety pins.)  This made it way easier to eyeball and meant if I had to put down my knitting to come back to it I could figure out where I was pretty easily.

You may have noticed that I was picking up the stitches in groups of 3", but needed to cover 31".  I did 10 groups of 18 stitches that each covered 3" then had one set of 6 stitches covering the last inch to make up the difference.

Also, the fact that I'm doing the border means the very cute sweater is almost done, which is so much fun.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Thrum Mittens

I'm normally pretty consistent with finishing the knitting projects I start.  There is the occasional project where the yarn and the pattern were a poor match for each other or one where the pattern is full of mistakes and I give up, but in general things get finished.  Part of that is because I get a lot of joy from seeing the finished project and part of that is that once I start something I just want to see it get bigger and bigger until it's done, which results in me often only having one project on the go at a time.

I also try to have the next project lined up in terms of having the yarn and pattern chosen and purchased, so that as soon as I'm finished one thing I have something else to start.  This normally works well, but every so often there's something that I just can't wait until start, which is totally what has happened with the little cabled sweater.  I tried to finish what I was working on first but gave in, and I'm absolutely loving how the sweater is coming together.

The item that was abandoned so I could start the sweater was an absolutely beautiful pair of thrum mittens, which I really should finish prior to winter being over so I have a chance to actually wear them this year.  Thrum mittens have little pieces of roving worked into them to make them extra-warm, and originated from the East coast of Canada.  (For anyone interested Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has a great FAQ about them here.)  I had a pair I made years ago that I sadly lost several winters ago and have been wanting a replacement ever since.  Fleece Artist has absolutely beautiful kits, and I bought one the summer before last but never got around to making it.  I started just before I found the pattern for the little boy's sweater.  It's a great kit and I'm so pleased about how they're turning out.


This particular kit had a great colour variation in the roving that was included and I took the time to make all the thrums for both mittens and sort them into little packages prior to starting which should mean that the two mittens will be identical, and I absolutely love them, but I just can't put down the sweater.

I'm almost done the second arm, and just have the band around the hood to knit after that.  I really am going to finish these mittens before starting the second sweater because otherwise I'll be knitting super-warm mittens in May, which is the sort of thing I'd do but I'd really like to have the mittens now.