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.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

A Sweater With Cables

I've wanted to make a sweater for Caleb for a while, but we were given enough that he could wear a different one every day for a week without repeating one (he might be able to get to two weeks, actually) so it's silly to knit another.  

I told myself I would make him one for next winter, since we don't have any bigger clothes yet.  That way the yarn and the time wouldn't seem like a waste.  I told myself it would be a beautiful cabled sweater, that it would be warm and cozy and perfect.  I love cables, I love that there are a million variations, I love the depth and warmth they add to the fabric, I love that people think cables look really complicated and tell me there's no way they could every make something like that because it's really, really hard.  (I may be a bit of a showoff, but I do try to explain that they're pretty straightforward.)  I told myself the fact that I'm making it for next winter means I have tons of time to find the perfect pattern and the perfect yarn and the fact that it would be sized 18-24 months meant I'd be pretty much guaranteed that it wouldn't be too small.  Then, while looking through a Debbie Bliss Magazine I got for Christmas I came across this:

It was everything I was picturing, except the biggest size is 12-18 months which might work for a couple of months.  I thought about making one that size and just accepting that it would be a fall sweater, but he'd still outgrow it before the cold of winter which is totally what I wanted it for.  However, a very close friend is having a boy this spring and I was going to make a baby blanket, but it's their second and they already have baby blankets from their first and I decided this would be perfect, I'd just make it big enough that it should fit in the winter, if the baby is a bit small or big it will still fit when it's cold.  I thought I'd made peace with not making this sweater for Caleb until I started looking at the yarn, which was an amazing price, and there were two colours that I really liked, and I thought about it and made a decision.

They're both getting a sweater.  I'm knitting the small one first (and it has instructions for that size) and I'll alter the largest size to make it bigger afterwards, in some ways the small one will be like a really involved swatch.

I really, really like cables and they're going to look so cute in their matching sweaters.

Monday, 17 February 2014

What would you do?

When I was a kid someone gave me a paperweight with the words "What would you do if you knew you would not fail?" written on it.  I thought it was a stupid question then, but it's been at the back of my mind all this time, and every so often it's like someone at the back of my brain pokes me with the thought.

For a while I thought of it kind of like you'd think of a genie in a bottle, if I could have anything I wanted, what would it be?  But the question isn't asking about what you'd pick if you could skip to a happy ending, bypassing the hard work of something, it's asking if you knew that work would pay off in success, what would you do.

It's not like how, when you're a kid, people tell you that you can do anything with your life.  It's true in some senses, if I desperately wanted to do something that involved schooling I could work hard and make a way to go back, but life isn't a blank slate and there is so much about where I am right now that I love so much I wouldn't trade it for any other dream.

When I was in school someone asked what I was studying, when I said Religious Studies and Classics they looked at me like I was nuts and asked why I would study that and why I wasn't studying knitting.    Given that, to my knowledge, you can't take knitting at university (although that would be awesome), I just thought he was crazy.  He did hit on something though, knitting is what I absolutely love.  Making patterns is what I love, and at the moment that's what I would do if I knew I would not fail.

I have one pattern for sale on Ravelry now, and this year my goal is at least three more.  The projects are planned anyways, the difference is putting them out there once they're finished rather than stuffing them into a binder upstairs.  It's a small start, but it's the perfect start for where the rest of my life is at.