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 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