Thursday, August 20, 2009

Denial isn't just a river in Africa

Last night, we went out with some of the girls from knitting club. Man I have missed them! I finally got to see Joy's handspun aeolian shawl in person. Oh my god, is it amazing! Total love! I'm still intimidated by my silk, so I haven't spun it yet. We all went to Dave & Busters and just had a blast. The boyfriend found a game he was absolutely fantastic at, so of course, we won a bunch of tickets. Beats me if I know what we'll use our tickets on.

But getting together with everyone reminded me that I want to try to have a fiber party before the new school year starts. Holy crap. I won't be going to school this september.... I'm graduating! It's still slowly sinking in.

To get back to the title however, I think it's time to admit that my stash has gotten away from me. I still vehemently believe that I have not achieved S.A.B.L.E. That's stash aquisition beyond life expectancy for those that are not familiar with the term. But I have alot of stash. I have atleast 5 unfinished projects, and a queue that's starting to intimidate me with its size. I'm feeling a need to declutter my stash and things, and I'm feeling the need for a yarn diet.

Yeah, I said it.

Yarn diet.

Of course, there will have to be rules and exceptions. I'm debating on whether or not to start it before next month, because it's my birthday month. Yes, I expect yarn for my birthday. It's my birthday after all! (IOW, if you don't realize the best present for my birthday is luxury yarn, you don't know me very well.) But I'm slowly thinking up rules to solidify the yarn diet. Exceptions would include birthdays, major holidays like christmas, and anniversaries. New yarn cannot be acquired unless 3 projects get completed. Gift yarn can only be acquired if there is a project selected. I can't decide if there needs to be a time frame on gift yarn projects, because there's 8 balls of elann super kydd upstairs waiting for me to knit them into scarves for the mom and sister. Due to current family drama, I really don't feel that they deserve any presents. (Bottom line, apparently they think that I should risk my health to make them happy. I disagree.) I don't care if they paid for the yarn. Mmm, perhaps I should pose this to the selfish knitters.

Anyways, back to the stash that seems to grow like tribbles. Mostly because I keep finding bits that I forgot I had, which is a bit unnerving. I'm kind of frightened that I could achieve SABLE, so I must swish through the projects as fast as my knitterly fingers can take me. I suppose that means I should finish sewing the grad dress. Whoops!

Friday, August 14, 2009

There's a first time for everything

Even running out of yarn it seems! So shocking, especially for me! I'm notorious among my friends for having more lace scraps than I know what to do with. One particular ball of yarn lasted through a hat, a crocheted rose, AND the choker, Asphyxiation. Seriously.

I think I finally jinxed myself, though. As I finish the last few rows on the Panache shawl, I feel trepidation building as the ball of yarn shrinks and shrinks an shrinks... I'm cutting out something like 20 rows and I'm STILL not sure I'll have enough yarn. I unravelled the swatch for more yarn, and I'm still not sure I'll have enough. It's a very unsettling feeling, and one that I am entirely unfamiliar with.

I'm trying to see this as an opportunity, because I really like the mods to the pattern that I am making in order to adjust to a lesser amount of yarn. I didn't like the final 3 repeats of additional feather and fan that happened before the crochet cast off. That's going away. I didn't quite like the look of the "eye" of the feather, so now it's going to be much smaller. I may even have to use some of the alternate bind-offs I saw in ravelry, because they seem to use less yarn. Seem to. I'm not sure. I do NOT look forward to frogging back 12 rows because I ran out of yarn AGAIN.

In some ways, I can't shake the feeling that this is what I get for trying a style of yarn I usually don't like. That's right, I usually find the rapid color changes of hand-dyed yarn far too busy for my tastes. Other people like them, and that's fine, I've never really been one of them. Then I found the lovely semi-solid lace work by YarnAddictAnni, and thought I could give it a shot. 1200 yards of lace weight is more than enough to make anything.

Or so I thought.

About 600 yards later, I look at my doubled yarn and wonder where it all went. I'm actually a combination knitter (read: my purl stitches sit backwards compared to "normal" knitting styles.) and I've heard that it's a style that uses less yarn. My history of projects and scraps have most certainly been a testament to that fact. But now, the fickle yarn gods have laughed at my hubris and ensured that I will run out of yarn JUST once. Just so that I will live with the taste of fear of yarn shortages and be humbled. I have to wonder what do I need to sacrifice in order to appease their fickle nature? I'd gladly burn my DPNs as a sweet sacrifical incense if it meant that I wouldn't run out of yarn. But I'm not sure bamboo wood makes for good incense.

Damn yarn gods.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tink, tink, tink

Sadly, that is not the lonely sound of a solo coin bumping around a can. I wish it were. Unfortunately, I have to tink back some rows on the panache shawl, because I am running out of yarn and I want to do the border. Well, I want to do certain parts of the border anyways, including the gorgeous scalloped edge. It's going to require some interesting fudging.

I recommend using a smaller needle size when you tink so that you have more room to weave the needle around the stitches. So, let's say you need to go back three rows and you're using a size 7 needle. With a size 6 needle, insert the tip at the beginning of the row, and weave it in. You'll always have 2 stitches between the needles, because the third stitch is in the row you're picking up with the smaller needles. It occurs to me that this would make sense with pictures. I don't think I'll subject you to picking up stitches in lace. It's hard enough to see your patterns, much less trying to decipher rows. Perhaps I'll do a tutorial on it if there's a demand for it.

Long story short - use a size smaller if you have to rip back to a row. And stick end caps or needle point protectors on the ends when you are done so you don't have the project sliding off one end. That'd just be tragic to have an unraveled mess just because one end slipped off and frogged itself while you were working on the other end. Not that I've had that happen before... often. I learned. Hopefully, I've spared you the agony. Although, if you were really smart, you'd have used life lines and not had to deal with this whole mess!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Souvenir Yarn

So, this past weekend, I went to Bay City, Michigan.

Can I just say how much I love Michigan speed limits? 70 mph and that means if you don't drive 80+ you will be run over. It warms the cockles of my little Texan heart. Needless to say, my driving style fit right in. I went up there to visit the boyfriend who is away for 2 weeks on guard duty. It's a little weird having him away, and I miss him. I'm really tired right now, so I miss him more it seems.

So I have new yarn to snuggle when I miss him. We stopped by A Piece of Ewe, the yarn shop in Bay City. I recommend going, they have a healthy selection of yarn despite their small size. I saw some eye-blindingly bright jawoll sock yarn that felt deliciously soft because it was a superwash wool and silk yarn. I would have walked away with a skein of that, except it came in magenta, neon green, and highlighter yellow self-striping blends. Yarnmaiden may love those colors, but I almost passed up on fondling the yarn because it was so garish. Sorry, no love for the uber bright colors from me.

I did make out with some Elsebeth Lavoid Silky Wool yarn, in this gorgeous jewel-toned purple color. I got enough to make a sweater for me, which I really, really want to start so I can pretend that my boyfriend is hugging me when he's not around. Except, the needles I need are in use with the second panache shawl. So I wound up winding a skein into a ball for me to fondle. It's also absorbed some of the scent of his cologne so it reminds me of him. We also got some beautiful pale blue silky wool to make a shawl for his grandmother. I offered to do a joint Christmas present for his grandmother: he buys the yarn, I make the shawl. Considering that it takes me, oh, a week, to knit panache if I'm completely focused on it, I am totally not worried about knitting the shawl.

I'm just resisting the urge to buy more needles, but I may lose the battle. Knitpicks has their new zephyr needles out and I am seriously tempted to try them. Even with shipping, cables and needle tips are cheaper through knitpicks than any lys and I am on a shoe string budget. Hooray college student budget. There's light at the end of the tunnel, with graduation on August 30th. Which also means resume brushing up and applications out the ears.

It's been a tiring few days with kitty drama and family drama, so I really miss the boyfriend. I may wind up casting on the sweater anyways, just because. He comes back this saturday, but I'm being mopey and silly because I haven't had much of a chance to indulge myself in the past 48 hours. I've picked out the pattern already, it's the Queen Anne Cardigan. Gorgeous cardigan and it doesn't take much yardage either. Also, it's top down so it's an easy knit! I may lose the battle against new needles.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


So, I have to say, I'm totally obsessed with the panache shawl. It's the fastest shawl I've ever knit. If I had left the border out of this pattern, I would have been done with it within a week, that's how easy it is to knit. I added a border on the sides and around the neckline to give it more of a collar. The original pattern only included the scalloped lace edging at the tips of the feathers. Here's what it looks like all laid out.

And here's a picture of me wearing it.

Now, I normally don't love variegated yarns, as some of you well know, but in this shawl it wasn't too busy at all. I used knitpicks shimmer lace yarn in their sherry colorway to make this shawl. I actually only needed 2 skeins! I even have a little bit left over! I didn't double the yarn, either, just held it singly. Because the yarn is alpaca and silk, it's actually quite warm, and the lace lets the fabric breathe so you don't get too hot. I actually really want to try this in another of their colorways, possibly hush or or blue glass. The feather and fan body of the shawl really lends itself well to variegated yarns, it lets the colors show itself off in the oh-so-simple stitch pattern. Actually, I think that's why I finished it so quickly, for the first 85 rows, it's all feather and fan - which only has one row of lace stitches followed by 3 rows of stockinette. Yeah. LOTS of mindless knitting, it's wonderful.

Honestly, it's such a wonderful pattern that I couldn't help myself. I started a second one. I'm making it out of another Etsy Seller's yarn, dreamy lace by YarnAddictAnni. The specific blend which I had bought doesn't seem to be carried by her etsy shop anymore mostly because she has a NEW SHOP!!! Check it out, she has absolutely wonderful lace yarn at amazing prices and mind-bogglingly long yardage. I'm seriously tempted to buy a blue-ish colorway to make the shawl again as a present for the wonderful boyfriend's grandmother.

I have to say, it's a ridiculously quick knit, which makes it such a great present pattern. I think I may have said that before, but it really is. For his grandmother, I'd want to double the lace yarn, just so it has a little more warmth and make it out of alpaca. For the pattern, I'd recommend going with a fuzzy lace-weight like alpaca or a heavier yarn because it's knit on size 6 needles and larger. I'm also contemplating sock yarn, which would be a good weight for the pattern and seems to be really common on ravelry. Also, the original shawl/veil pattern it was derived from was knit entirely on size 6 (4 mm) needles, so you don't have to follow the recommended changes in needle sizes, it will work just fine on a single size. Much love to Lankakomero for writing up her variations on the pattern.

As you may have noticed, I made a few small changes like the border. I also cast on 39 stitches and started on row 13 to create an opening at the neckline. After I knit on the border, (which is from the babushka shawl in the best of knitter's magazine shawls and scarves book, btw) I added little ties at the neckline to hold the shawl closed. I doubled the yarn and crocheted it to the sides about 3 inches down from the neckline of the shawl NOT 3 inches down from the edge of the lace border, in order to make a lapel collar. Oh, and I only used needle sizes 4 mm, 4.25 mm (I have weird 6's), and 4.5 mm.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Awakening the Halo

So, to celebrate the paper being accepted for publication (wow, I'm writing in passive voice already?) I bought yarn to make a commemorative project. Yarn really is the best way to celebrate, honestly. I got two skeins of misti alpaca lace, in their beautifully heathered purple colorway. It's just gorgeous, honestly, with this blue that just pops. And there's this really subtle pink hue that peeks out every once in a while that I just wasn't expecting.

To celebrate, I started swatching. I've been swatching alot lately, it seems. I've started swatching for the infamous lace circle jacket from Feminine Knits. I'm going to use the misti alpaca lace for the jacket; I'm hoping the alpaca has enough halo to substitute well for the mohair. I don't think I could stand that much mohair next to my skin. The pattern states that it should have 16 sts for 4 inches on size 9's. What I got on size 7's was 4 stitches to the inch after washing and blocking. Have I mentioned I'm a loose knitter?

I'm not entirely sure what I want to do next. I'm spot on for gauge... at two sizes SMALLER than what the pattern calls for. I'd like the jacket to be a little more snug than what the pictures show. The pattern says it's 19 inches from armhole to armhole, at best I'm 16 - 17 inches at that measurement, so I definitely need it smaller. For now, I'm just going to see if I can bring out the halo of the alpaca more. So far, I've wound each ball 3 times, and it's starting to get more halo. The third time, I held a very fine grit nail file to the yarn as I wound it in a ball, which seemed to bring out more halo. We'll see.

In other ADD project related news, I started the panache shawl. I'm using knit pick shimmer, in their sherry colorway. Oh my god, it's gorgeous. I decided to do the 9/16 version, mostly because I want a capelet look instead of a wrap-around shawl. Using the picot cast on, I started on row 13 which has 39 stitches. I wanted something that had a defined neckline, where I could attach a shawl pin or ties to hold it closed. It's totally mindless lace, I'm on row 27 already. I'm using size 6 needles, and I won't change sizes until row 63.

It's nice to have mindless lace, though. Currently, the older projects are languishing, mostly because they're being annoyingly complicated. I've somehow made the sleeve too big on the hourglass jacket, so I need to rip back about 4 rows and figure out how I want to change the sleeve cap. So that's changing pattern short rows in broomstick crochet = NOT easy. I think I'll probably tackle it this weekend.

The swatch for the lace bolero is done and hanging on the wall right now. This is more for me to remember than anything else. I did half the swatch in the centered double decrease, and the other half with the traditional sk2p stitch to see which one I liked better. So far, I like the centered decrease. The traditional stitch reminds me of varicose veins, a not attractive look. Now, why is it hanging on the wall, you ask?

I'm hanging it on the wall to see how much drape it will develop. I picked that trick up at a talk I went to at Knitter's Connection, where they hammered into my head the importance of swatch. A great way to check how much a fabric will grow is to wash and block a swatch - and then hang it on the wall for a week. Simply pin it to a bulletin board (cork, foam, whatever) but ONLY pin the top row. This leaves the weight of the swatch to hang from the top row, so you'd get an idea of how much the knitted fabric will grow when you wear it. Leave it there for a week, and check gauge then. Don't forget to include row gauge, because it can change! It's interesting, like a minature experiment for me to do at home, so I'm excited about it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fiber Wars

So, my copy of Feminine Knits last friday. I was so excited that I couldn't resist swatching for a new project. I've wanted to make the lace bolero from the book for ages, except I couldn't read the original Finnish in which it was written. That, and I wanted to make the lace circle jacket, but I just couldn't work up the courage. Now that I have my hot little hands on a copy, I can't help starting even though I have something like a dozen projects in process. And that just counts knitting...

I started out with DMC's Senso Wool Cotton, a yarn that used to be uber cheap at Hobby Lobby. I use the past tense, because I haven't been able to find it at a local store in ages. I started with the ribbing on tiny needles (US 1.5 or 2.5 mm) just to see how it would look. Despite the intimidatingly tiny needles, it looked like a nice even knit. Then I switched to the larger needles for the lace pattern, which is really, really easy. It's a 4 row, 6 st pattern repeat. After all the crazy charts I've been keeping track of, it's almost as mindless as ribbing. Almost.

Except for the cotton fiber. Wool Cotton is 30% wool and 70% cotton, with hardly any elasticity. I got through about 10 rows of the lace pattern, all the while struggling with the sk2p stitches. I substituted for the centered decrease version, which I liked the look of. Finer needle points wouldn't have helped reduce the difficulty of manipulating the stitches. Though they would have made pushing around the stitches easier, the sheer inelasticity of the cotton was what drove me to try another fiber. I was cursing by row 10 of the lace, trying to get my needle to go through 3 stitches. I'd rather slit my wrists than try a knupp with this yarn.

So, I pulled out some other stash, the lovely buckingham yarn which I used to make the Giselle sweater. I had a ball and half left over, so a few months ago, I bought a second ball of the yarn just so I'd have enough to do a sizeable project. Now I do! The yarn is delicious and very flexible about gauge. It's 80% alpaca and 20% silk, so it's ridiculously warm and has elegant drape. I started swatching with it, and oh! I forgot how much I like this yarn! I'm definitely going to be making the bolero out of it. The alpaca has just enough stretch and memory that I can get the stitches around easily on bamboo needles. I'm just sorry I left the swatch at home, I want to knock it out today.

Not to say that I don't like the wool cotton. It's going to get relegated to crochet, where I can more easily deal with the unforgiving nature of cotton. I'm thinking the cheveron lace cardigan because I can't have enough sweaters. I get cold at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. I'm not kidding. So summer AC often leaves me shivering with numb extremities. What can I say, I'm a tropical bird.

It's just interesting to me since I seem to be developing distinct fiber crafting preferences. Cotton for crochet because it literally feels hard to knit with. Silk seems to be following the same lines, but we'll see how the next two silk projects fare. I ordered enough really cheap silk yarn from Ebay to make a dress or sweater. I'm excited, it should start arriving any day now! It's on its way from India and it's been about 10 business days, so it should be here. Plus, there's the silk roving in my stash just waiting for me to start spinning it. I haven't dared spin with it yet just because I don't feel my spinning skills are up to it. We'll see.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Instant Gratification

What do you do when you need a sample size of crochet to get gauge? Turn it into a bracelet of course.

Materials: deathly slippery silk... yarn. It's laceweight at best. 2/0 size glass beads.
Stitches used: ch, hdc, sc
Time to finish: Less than 3 hours

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Free Form Crochet

So, my crochet hero, besides the woman who taught me how to crochet, is Antonina Kuznetsova. I've faved a few of her designs on ravelry, and linked to her photostream. Take a few minutes to look at her creations, it will blow your mind away. This one has to be my favorite:

What? Like it's such a shock that I like pink. Her mastery of freeform crochet blows my mind away. I was lucky enough that the woman who taught me how to crochet taught me how to sight crochet. Essentially, she started with teaching me how to make basic stitches and a general shape. Then she would hand me motifs and tell me to figure out how to make them. The motifs got progressively more complicated, and she taught me an incredibly valuable skill. Not only did she teach me stitches and abbreviations so that I could make things from a pattern, she enabled me to create my own designs. That said, even Irish crochet seems somewhat daunting to me, and I've been crocheting for almost 15 years now.

That said, I found a wonderful tutorial about free form/irish crochet at showing you how to construct your own free form skirt. While it's absolutely gorgeous, I don't think I'll be doing another lace garment just yet. (I heard that derisive snort! Give me until next year at least, to start something insanely intricate again.) However, I think jewelry will be a perfect launching point to learn this technique. As you can see, Dainty Crochet by Aly, uses free form crochet to make really beautiful pieces.

Someone, anyone (not me) please buy that necklace before I cave and buy it myself. If I had to guess at its construction, she started with the circular and center motif. Then she used crochet to create the structure of the necklace and beaded chain at the back of the neck. It's an absolutely gorgeous piece of work.

I've got a pretty good idea of what I want to crochet, though, variations on lace trims adapted to necklaces and chokers. I've been browsing through Crochet Lace by Pauline Turner, which I highly recommend. It's got a ton of great patterns and motifs for your imagination to run away with. I actually picked it up at half price books for a great price. I can't wait to get started on a little choker just to bust some stash.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


So, I'm in the middle of several projects all of which take about half an hour or more to do a row. I'm working on the secret project/aspiring design with the haiku yarn. Then there's the wings of a dream shawl that I heavily modified. There's also the celtic tote bag which requires me to finish embroidering the outline. As you might guess, it can get a little tedious.

Well, there's also the sock, but it's just not captivating me right now. And there's the intolerable cruelty skirt, but that's mindless knitting. Except for the short rows I'm attempting to add. My waist is 6 inches smaller than the widest part of my butt/hips. That means I need to add length back there or I will have a really funny looking hemline. (Anyone else ever make a garment where it's shorter in the back than the front?) Remember that the next time you knit a skirt. In sewing, you make the hem long to compensate for any uneveness and then trim the fabric to get an even hemline. It doesn't work quite the same way in knitting. You gotta add short rows in the back, or as a friend charmingly misspoke: short ass rows.

Anyways, I've decided I'm in need of some instant gratification projects so I thought I would design some silk & beaded crochet lace jewelry. I found this wonderful blog, where she has an embedded video on how to crochet with beads. Good quality, it's not perfect, but it's enough to get you started on the basic idea of how to crochet with beads. I've done it with knitting before, but not crochet yet. There's a wee stash of beads waiting for me to use it, and this just seems like the perfect opportunity to try.

And there's the death shawl.

Its's holding up some gorgeous yarn that probably won't get made into a shawl. Why? Well, let's start with the name. On ravelry, one woman commented that she'd probably get buried in the shawl, because it would either kill her or she wouldn't finish it until she died. The charts for it are just that long. I'm not kidding. It's a beautiful shawl... and not something you should try for your 3rd knitting project ever. Ask me how I know. Anyways, the yarn is a beautiful dusty gold color, which would make for great jewelry, don't you think? Time to dust off my crochet books and figure out what would look really great with some beads.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Creature of Habit

I love crafting. Some might even say it's an unhealthy obsession. To that argument, I have the following response. Creation poses its own unique reward: something new that didn't exist before you made it. You, the creator, are responsible for its being, and that is a powerful accomplishment that no one can take away from you. It holds a special place in my life, because of my difficult family and their lack of acknowledgement. I'm about to finish a bachelor's degree in psychology and I still don't understand them.

Being able to make something soothes me in ways I can only begin to explain. I love creating something light, lacy, and beautiful as proof that I've accomplished something in a life too scarred by harsh criticism. It reassures me that I am skilled, that I am able to master unique abilities on my own. I still underestimate my abilities, but I'm learning to appreciate what I am able to accomplish.

It's soothing, in ways addicts can understand. The yarn harlot had a hilarious bit that I will poorly paraphrase about replacing knitting with smoking. In the first two weeks after you quit smoking, you'll find that keeping your hands busy helps control the cravings. You'll also find yourself the proud owner of 3 afghans, 2 sweaters, and dozens of socks. Funny, but true. It falls into a neat behavioral trick I learned. If you want to break a habit, replace it with another habit (preferably a better one). That way, you'll have a new habit that makes you a better person or enriches your life or simply stops an addiction. I've quit smoking, and I'm learning to replace bad habits with knitting/crocheting/crafting. When I used to smoke a cigarette after a fight with my mom, I'll knit instead. I say this in an ironically timed moment, since I just finished a row of the hourglass jacket which I picked up to soothe myself after a midterm. It's better than biting my nails, no? Plus, I'll have a wonderful summer jacket/indoors cardigan to wear when I'm done.

I can't wait to finish it, because the boyfriend's mother made a wonderful suggestion. I showed her the shawl pins that I made for the etsy shop, and she thought the designs were lovely. She suggested that I show a picture of someone or something wearing the pin so people got a better idea of how the shawl pin worked. Which is a great idea, I thought. The tutorials show you how to stick the pin in the fabric, but it doesn't really show you how it could be worn, does it? Of course, that makes me want to start a new shawl immediately, let's ignore the half-dozen projects I have on my needles currently. But if you've seen the panache shawl can you really blame me?

I leave you, dear reader, with two honest questions - what inspires you to knit or how did you get started crafting? And, would it help if I had pictures of the shawl pins being worn?

Friday, July 3, 2009

New colors, new skills

Well, sort of. The colors I chose really shouldn't surprize anyone that knows me. But I absolutely love the laptop case I just finished knitting for myself. I wouldn't have been able to knit it, if it weren't for the wonderful experience of Knitter's Connection. I took a class there, "Two Colors, Two Hands" taught by Sally Melville. Some of you may remember the glorious disaster that was the f'ing deer socks. Once again, I've demonstrated why my friends crowned me queen of crazytown, because I thought that doing colorwork on the second pair of socks I'd ever made was a great idea. Needless to say the, socks didn't fit at all. The sock part of the sock was great, but my lack of even tension in the ankle kept the sock from making it past the heel of the foot when my boyfriend tried it on. The sock is in hibernation until I've refined my skills at color knitting.

I have to really give credit to Sally Melville, the woman who taught the Two Colors, Two Hands class, for giving me the skills to tackle color knitting again. She was just very reassuring, and very down-to-earth practical. She set attainable and pragmatic goals for knitting in new ways. I hadn't even been aware that I expected myself to be as good at knitting in a new style as I was with knitting lace and everything else I was used to doing. Bear in mind, my first knitting project was the branching out scarf. My bar for "easy" isn't the least bit logical or practical. She pointed out that the most important goals for learning a new knitting style are attaining the muscle memory, establishing good tension, and once both of those are comfortable for you to do, THEN you can start thinking about speed.

I found I was most comfortable knitting with one color in each hand, even though I'm a continental knitter. The thing is, you'll be knitting in a style that you're not normally comfortable with, so why should you be expecting beautifully even knitting your first time around? With her reassurance and gentle guidance, I learned to be comfortable with english style knitting. Her advice for dealing with that conundrum she pointed out? Do a felted bag. The thicker fabric of colorwork makes for a sturdy bag, and felting hides all those sins of tension and (un)even stitches. I took her advice, and went my own way with it, because really, I need another purse like I need a hole in the head. So I made a (soon to be) felted laptop case!

Just so you know, it is a lumpy, bumpy mess, just as she promised most people's first projects would be. Check out a close up of the stitches, pay close attention to how uneven the edge is.

It was just so reassuring to hear that it's not going to be perfectly even the first time around. In class, she held up this beautifully knit a-line skirt with an intricate insert panel of colorwork, and stated quite clearly that it was a lumpy mess until she blocked it. I'll post pictures of blocking, just to show what an effect it has, before I block it. And, like Ms. Melville said, felting will completely obliterate the uneven stitches. She recommended using noro if you want more color without having to constantly change yarns, but I have a deep-seated aversion to noro. So I used jojoland, colorway M-04 instead. I love the gradual color change from purple to lavender to burgundy.

I also followed her advice and used a simple, easy to memorize pattern, houndstooth. Well, it was mostly easy to memorize. As you can see here, I messed up one repeat.
By that point, I had cast on, knitted 2 repeats, and ripped it all back out at least 3 times. I thought I had a handle on the pattern and stopped looking at the pattern. Folly, thy name is pride, and I had too much of it at that point in time. By the time I had realized that I made the mistake, I was sick of ripping out and starting again. I saw that I'd done the repeat wrong right here:

I can live with it, though. I'm just so totally enamored of the color change that the jojoland yarn does. I used jojoland for the contrast color, some leftover paton's classic wool for the pink, and some leftover wool-angora blend in lavender that I got from an ebay auction. I have to say, the bag was great at busting stash. As you may have noticed, I have a terrible problem with leftover yarns, so being able to use them up felt wonderful. The bag is 9.5 inches wide by 15 inches long, to fit a 10.5 inch by 7.25 inch laptop. I'm waiting to felt it along with the celtic tote that I've done. I just need to finish the embroidery on the bag, and then it will be ready to felt.

I can't say enough wonderful things about Knitter's Connection, Sally Melville, and everything I got to see and do there. The Knitter's Market is like... taking your favorite yarn shop and multiplying it by 10. That's the best way I can describe two large conference rooms filled with all sorts of yarn vendors, from hand-dyers to retail distributors and everything in between. Forgot your knitting bag? That's okay, you can buy a Nantucket bag there. Just finished your cardigan in class or lecture, and need buttons? I saw at least 2 vendors that sold nothing but buttons and notions.

As for me? Well, the yarns I loaded up on are another story. I could gush on and on about those for pages and pages. But, I think I'll save that for later.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm not an addict, maybe that's a lie....

Mmm, K's choice. Now that I've revealed what decade influenced my music choices, let's go see what's got me moving now.

I have to say, Molecular Muse's items all appeal to me on a basic level. (Ha ha!) As some of you might know, I'm a biochemistry major, with aspirations to neuroscience for a career. The hours and hours and hours spent memorizing amino acid structure, protein function, neurotransmitter synthesis pathways were interminable at best. I take that back. The neurotransmitter synthesis pathways were kind of fun. I heart neuroscience. I wouldn't have gotten through those long hours of study without my wonderful friend to whom I have been addicted since I was 16 years old: Caffeine.

I mean, look at that wonderful molecule, ubiquitously found in sodas, teas, drinks, coffee, even liquors. So lovely, yet naturally occurring at the same time. (Some of you at this point, may be thinking that the biochemistry degree was a fitting choice.) For those of you who are tired about my raptures over caffeine let's move on to the movers and shakers.

That's right. I'm talking about neurotransmitters.

Really, was there any surprise there? These are the things which makes us humans tick. They help us feel ecstasy. They control how happy we feel. They can get our blood moving and hearts jumping.

My only question is would they let me wear such things to class? Does jewelry count as a cheat sheet in this case? I mean, unless you already had the structure memorized, you wouldn't know which silver globes were oxygen, which ones were nitrogen... I suppose I'll just have to find out when I go to graduate school. Someday.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shop Talk Ed. 6 - Shawl Pin Tutorial - Leaf Pin

So it seems, that this has been a popular design! In that case, I had better put out a tutorial on how I recommend using the shawl pin? The leaf shawl pin is really similar to the treble clef; in this regard, it works in much the same way.

Start with where you want the pin to be in the shawl, like this:

Once you've figured out where you want it to go, then you'll rotate the pin to stick the free end through the fabric like this:

It's easiest to work the free end into a knit stitch. I wouldn't recommend putting it into a yarn-over hole, because it can stretch the hole, and it's less likely to do that in a knit stitch. It seems counter-intuitive to start here, but once it's fully rotated, it will make more sense.

Once the free end has been inserted into the fabric, continue rotating the leaf almost 180 degrees clockwise and push it through the fabric like so:

Then, angle the pin upwards, so that the free end can poke through the fabric where you want it to come through.

It will look a little strange at this point, but once it's rotated it'll look better.

Just like the previous step, rotate the pin again, so that the fabric sits level in the leaf.

And there you go! I promise, more fun posts will be forthcoming, dyeing escapades, breaking yarn diets, spindle making, and so much more!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shop Talk: Ed 5 - Quick Announcement

I hate to say it, but I'm going to have to raise my shipping prices. When I first started the shop, I thought I could get away with shipping things in a first class envelope for a dollar. Truth be told, I just don't feel comfortable shipping things unprotected in a simple envelope. Once the shawl pins, row counters, and other creations leave my hands, they are no longer mine. They're yours, the customer's and I would want to protect it and keep it safe for its journey to a new home.

Also, I like the reassurance of tracking. I've had bad luck with shipping before, and always, it seems that I didn't buy the insurance or tracking, and so my textbook, yarn, package, ect - have gotten lost in the mail. Needless to say, I haven't been pleased when that happens. I want to give others the peace of mind that tracking allows by showing where your item is in transit. However, on average, USPS labels through paypal have cost me about $1.50. So I'm taking a loss there, unfortunately. In order to cover shipping costs, I'll be raising prices to $2.00 within the US, and $3.00 to Canada/Mexico. Rest assured, I'm not doing this to increase profit margins, but simply to cover the cost of business.

Hopefully, there will be more enjoyable posts to come, I just wanted to let people know and understand what I'll be doing with the shop. I'm planning on writing another shawl pin tutorial tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'm alive!

The quarter is over, but the hectic pace hasn't ceased. Just letting you folks know that I'm still alive with a quick update. I finished up some requested shawl pins - and I can't thank you folks enough for your patience. That's been a big priority for me. I went to Knitter's Connection, which was absolutely wonderful. There will be a long, gushy post about that later. Not to mention the miles by which my stash grew! I like to pretend my stash isn't as big as it really is. Sometime soon, I'm going to update my stash in Ravelry, and that will be a big whomp in the face. On happy knitting news, I'm nearly done with 2 projects. There will be pictures soon. Speaking of pictures, I really will finish the shawl pin tutorials within the week! Talk to y'all soon, there' so much to do, and so little time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage..."

Nah, not really rage-filled right now. Running around getting things done does make me feel like a rat in a cage, though. Running, running, running, and I hope to god getting a degree, but otherwise, just lots of running. There is alot of crap to get done if you need to graduate. Oh, and the application deadline is this friday! Teehee! I have an appointment this thursday, but I may sit around on wednesday just in case. We'll see. I got a psych minor and who knew that would equal more paperwork? I should have known.

Anyways, this is a knitting blog, no? On to knitting!

I'm so pleased! I took a chunk of time this weekend and worked on the graduation dress. The front and back halves are blocked, and I sewed them together. It fits! It fits like a glove! Whew! I can do this whole gauge thing. Perhaps a vogue pattern is not the best place to learn gauge, but it worked! My modifications worked! I changed their shaping and number of stitches to cast on so that it would fit my measurements and not their fictional woman sized 34-26-34. I'm sorry, I don't wear a corset, and my waist isn't 8 inches smaller than my rib cage. I finished the neckline inserts and sewed them in as well, so all that remains on the dress is the sleeves and the bottom panels.

The other major change I did to the dress was I changed the length of the main skirt panel, which was only supposed to be 8 inches long. Umm. If I had knit that to size, the panel would have barely covered my crotch. I realize that there's supposed to be a lace insert and another panel to make it longer, but still. My height is all in my legs. With those panels, the current dress size will come down to my knees. The new panel length after blocking is about 14 inches from the waist, which starts at the bellybutton and goes down to mid-thigh. Yeah. I don't think shorter would have been better in this case. Atleast not for the version of this dress that I would wear in public.

In other knitting news, I picked up a project that had been in hibernation, the hourglass jacket. I really enjoy it, because it's a totally different style of crochet. Yes, I'm bicraftual. I haven't knit with cotton enough to form an opinion about it and knitting, however I do quite like crochetting with cotton. I'm making it out of lyndon hill, a yarn by plymouth that's 85% cotton, 15% silk. It has this delicate halo, that I don't think will fluff out any more than what you see in the skein.

I love the delicate pink color that I'm working with, however, if I were to pick up another project with it, I'd go for that fruit punch red. It's gorgeous. I saw it in another yarn store, and it's delicious. I'd already bought the yarn to make the jacket at the time I saw the other yarn, otherwise I would have picked it up. I've finished the top parts of the back and fronts, and now I'm at the part in the pattern where you start crochetting like a top-down raglan. It's a really neat construction that mimicks top-down raglan construction, so you can try on the body, atleast, to see how well it fits you before you move on to the next part. The way you do the crochet is really different, too.

It's a bit unwieldy to work with a US size 19/35mm needle, but it does go fast. Well, it goes fast once you get the hang of how to make the stitches. If you're tired of traditional crochet and tc, dc, sc, ect, then try this jacket. The sizing has a great range, it's a fast project, and it makes a light fabric that's great for a summer cardigan to ward off chills. I chose to use a fingering weight yarn to make a lighter fabric, you can choose to make it in heavier yarn if you want a more substantial jacket. To give you an idea of how fast it goes, I completed the front parts that you attach to the back in 1 day. Now I have a few rows of broomstick lace before I start the waist shaping.

Otherwise, that's my knitting. I've cast on the acorn inserts for the sleeves - I'll only be making the vogue dress sleeves from the inserts on up to the sleeve cap, and the sleeve cap will be just that. Really short. I'm not worried about running out of yarn, I don't want to make a dress that will be too warm. I'm thinking of adding a final edging at the bottom of the dress just to tie it all together, but I'm not sure yet. We'll see how I feel about it once I get the sleeves on the dress. Happy knitting folks!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shop Talk ed. 4

In case you haven't checked it out yet, I've put up a new design in the shawl pins. I like it a lot. I almost wish there was one that I had "messed up" on, so that I could keep it. Actually, the two new designs are looking like that, right now. Too many tool marks ...

(5 minutes later) Err, I just took a break to play with one of the designs. Apparently, what I needed was a break from it in order to get the symmetry right. Oops. Expect to see that up in the shop in the next day or two.

I have to say, though, that using Tiffany for design inspiration is a dangerous prospect. He had a whole shop full of people to do the grunt work for him, and even polish and produce designs. It's just me and my ten fingers here, bending wire inspired by his shapes. I have to say though, I do love his work.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oh the cuteness!

For those that like busting stash and can crochet, I found the cutest thing!

Free Amigurumi Patterns

Check out the cuteness! If I felted these things, they'd be great cat toys. Otherwise, if left in intact yarn form, Delilah Damnit would just eat it. (You think I'm joking, but no. One of my cats is part goat and eats plastic.) However, she doesn't eat felted/fulled/what-do-you-call-purposefully-shrunk-crochet? items. Don't ask me about the logic behind that one. She is a force of nature until herself.

As for those that know me, I have issues with leftover yarn. As in, I always have it. It kind of drives me a little crazy. Okay, it drives me alot crazy because I do these projects that are supposed to eat up yarn... and they don't. Seriously, a swallowtail (without the knupps) and an asphyxiation out of one ball of knitpicks shadow? How? I don't know. The boyfriend said he'd put a knit kitty on the back of his motorcycle if I could find it a leather jacket. It's oh so tempting, especially since finding hand-made stuff for a guy is tough to do.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sock it to me

Actually, before I get to the knitting news, I just want to put out this apology to anyone who's tried out the xsmall size of the swirl skirt pattern. There's a typo in rows 6, 8, and 10 of the pattern. It should read as follows:

Row 6: *[YO,K1] 3 times, k2tog, K7* repeat 7 times more. There is a total of 8 repeats of this pattern per round.

Row 7: *K12, K2tog* repeat 8 times.

Row 8: *[YO,K1,] 3 times, k2tog, K8* repeat 8 times.

Row 9: *K13, K2tog* repeat 8 times

Row 10: *[YO, K1] 3 times, k2tog, K9* repeat 8 times.

Row 11: *K14, K2tog* repeat 8 times.

The extra small version is the one that has a 96 st cast on. If you've started that version, and couldn't figure out why it was off, this is why. I'm sorry. Hopefully, this will catch all the mistakes and such.

In other knitting news, I've caught a little knitting ADD. I finally finished panel 2 of the front the graduation dress. I've put the front and back halves together as I made them, so to speak. I made the waistband and picked up stitches for the bodice and panel 2. That way, I had less seaming to do once I was done with knitting a part of the dress. After the ocean waves cardigan fiasco, I'm going to block these halves of the dress and put it together to check the fit. If it doesn't, then I'll have time to reknit one part or another as needed. Hopefully, I should get that done this weekend.

Since I finished knitting that panel thursday night, I had a terrible realization. I didn't have that many on-going projects. There's the design I'm creating, but that's most decidedly not mindless knitting. I bound off the cuff of the boyfriend's practice sock part 2, and followed that with the toe of the second sock. I had a sudden realization, however, that I've never made socks for myself. So, I cast on the "Falling in Love" socks by Anni Designs, that was on the MagKnits website. That website, sadly, isn't functional anymore. It's a neat little design with a heart lace panel bordered by cables. I've done cables before, but I'm not very good at it.

I just heard the derisive laugh from my friends on ravelry.

Fine, I can do cables decently well, but they're not easy for me at all. We shall not speak of how many times I dropped the cabled stitches, and leave it at that.

So, I've got enough sock to cover the toe of my foot, and wow! I finally understand what the fuss is all about with the hand made socks. I'm making it out of that new yarn by Deborah Norville. It's 50% superwash wool, 25% rayon from bamboo, and 25% nylon. I love it, and the price is amazingly reasonable. It's a new yarn that's being carried by the larger Joann's craft stores.

Last, but certainly not least, is the wings of a dream shawl. I've gotten a couple of more rows done. I'm really curious to see how it will turn out, since I modified the pattern quite a bit.

Last, but not least, I've got a couple of shawl pins done. I should get a couple of shop updates in tomorrow. Happy knitting!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

RIP: Eulogy for Ocean Waves Cardigan

It's official.

I'm putting this project to rest, mostly because I'm just that mad at it. I frogged the offending panel, but that wasn't enough to abate my fury. I still want to knit only top-down raglan cardigans. I'm crazy enough to take an oath only to knit raglan constructed cardigans. I'm open minded enough to consider bottom up, knit-in-one piece cardigan. They're teaching a class on it at TNNA's summer show. I'm planning on taking it, and I have EZ's book on knitting in the round.

I'm just not pleased with what happens when I knit pieces that require seaming. You'd think I wouldn't mind seaming, because I learned to sew before I learned how to knit, but no. At least with sewing, I can just re-cut a piece if it doesn't fit well. The idea of cutting my knit fabric just makes me sick! Reshaping a knit piece takes 15 hours not 15 minutes, like it does with sewing. Bleh!

So, I'm officially putting the ocean waves cardigan to rest. Rest assured however, the argosy yarn is going into another project that's staying under wraps for now. For those of you that know me, I've got some designing ambitions, and there's some deadlines that I want to meet. That's right, it made me so mad that I said screw it, and I'm coming up with my own design. I've been taking meticulous line-by-line notes, and it's going pretty well. Here's hoping it works!

And no, I'm not just working on 2 projects. The wings of a dream shawl has a whopping.. uh, 3 rows on it? Heheheh. I don't really count projects as started until they hit several inches long. 3 rows just looks like ... well... not much at all. On the upside, I'm only one lace repeat away from finishing the front panel on the graduation dress! Speaking of that, I should be working on graduating! Aka studying. Rest in peace, ocean waves cardi.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Shop Talk ed. 3 - Shawl Pin Tutorial

Hooray! The shawl pins are up and running! I'm totally in love with some of them, and must remember that they are supposed to find good homes that aren't mine. But, before they do, I realize that they aren't the most intuitive design ever. To help with that, I've created a tutorial on how to use a shawl pin that doesn't have a stick pin.

Each pin works on the same principle:

1) Poke the free end into the fabric.
2) Rotate the pin
3) Poke the free end back out of the fabric
4) Rotate until you have the pin situated the way you want.

It'll take a little bit of practice before you learn how to place the pin just right, but it's worth the effort to have a pin where you don't need to worry about losing different parts.

First off, I have the Swan pin, which has flown to a happy home with Joyarna.

Start with the pin at roughly a 90 degree angle from where you want it to be. So, if you want it to look like this:

Then you should poke the wing tip into the fabric like this:

Once it's in, rotate the pin another 90 degrees, and push as much fabric as you want to hold it into place on the pin. Then poke the wing tip back out of the fabric.

Then it's alot of rotating at this point to get the shawl pin where you want it to be. Here's a step by step progression of 90 degree rotations clockwise to get it where you want it to be. See?

And finally, the swan is where it should be, swimming happily in lace. The swan and the delicately swirling shawl pin have the most amount of twisting around and rotating to get it into place. All the other designs have an easier progression to get the pin in place.

For example, the treble clef works in the same way the leaf would. To get the treble clef into the lace like this:

Start by inserting the curved in at the top of where you'd want the pin to be.

Then rotate the shawl pin and push through as much fabric as much as you want onto the pin.

This next step you can do one of two ways. I took a picture in natural light so you can see the curved end of the shawl pin poking through the fabric better. By tilting the shawl pin a little bit, you poke the curved end right below the top for good alignment.

The other way you could do this last step is simply to push the whole curved bit through, to get to the final step.

And there you have it. I like the treble clef and leaf better than the others, because the curved wire over the pin part of the shawl pin holds the lace fabric in place. In the others, you're relying on the tension of the fabric and the many curves of the pin to hold it in place. They work well, don't get me wrong, but there's just that added bit of security with that second wire.

In other shop news, the row counters are finished! Hopefully, I should have some time tomorrow morning to post the new designs up. I've got lovely shades of red, green, and blue glass beads on ribbons in combinations to suit almost anyone. The beads slide smoothly, but still have enough friction to hold their place while you knit. I indulged myself and made one for myself to test out - to make sure that it works well, of course! I wouldn't want to sell something I didn't test first. Yeah. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking with it.

For other things you can look forward to for the shop, I picked up brass wire! So, look forward to shawl pins in 16 gauge brass wire. I'll more than likely make a few of the current designs and maybe make one or two more new designs. I'm excited!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shop Talk ed. 2

So, just a quick update on the shop. I got the feedback from my friends who were testing out the stitch markers. They definitely liked the idea, but the beads were a little tough to move. One of two things has to change, before I go forward with the design. Either the beads need to have a larger hole for the ribbon to pass through. Or, the ribbon needs to be smaller. Since I haven't a clue how to drill out glass beads, it's looking more and more like I must make that trip to the craft store. Perhaps this weekend, if I get a good chunk of stuff done.

For news of the other expansions, I'm working on some shawl pin designs! I had made a shawl pin for myself out of some heavy gauge wire I had from another jewelry project. A friend suggested it would be a great design to add to the etsy shop. (Thanks Joyarna!) I like shawl pins that don't require a stick pin, because, let's be honest, I'd lose the stick pin and resort to using double point needles to hold the shawl pin in place. Then I'd lose the double point needles, and then I'd be in a vicious cycle. As it is, I manage to misplace my DPNs well enough on my own when I'm testing out various projects.

Therefore, I'm working on designs where you don't need a stick pin, in case I hadn't made that point clear enough. So far, I've got three basic shapes and a need for more heavy gauge wire. Yes, it has occurred to me to raid the boyfriend's wire stash. (He's a born tinkerer and an electrical engineer. I do honestly believe he has more miles of wire than I have yarn. He disagrees.) Although, all of his wire is, you know, for circuits, and coated with plastic. I may have to talk this over with him, since I'm still on the learning curve for understanding how wire behaves.

I need wire to practice on. Some of the sketches I came up with, like the darling blue bell design, require sharp, sharp bends in wire that heavy gauge silver and copper don't like to do. Oh, by the way, I'm making them in silver and copper wire! Just in case you didn't catch that. They should be up in the shop this weekend, so keep an eye out for them.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Misadventures in Knitting: Frogging Fun

By fun I mean (insert your favorite expletive here).

This is what has happened to the ocean cardigan after I blocked it and loosely pieced it together to check the fit. Apparently, I could not get away with the extra stitches like I thought I could. If you'll notice, one side is 2 inches longer than the other. No, it's not supposed to be like that. No, I do not like asymmetrical cardigans.

How did this happen, did you ask? Somehow, I added extra yarn overs near the front right button hole strip. I haven't a clue how I added them in. Instead of having three little lacy legs, I had four. And then, I had five. How I added that next one, I don't have any idea. Anyways, I thought I could get away with it. I thought quite wrong. I decreased back down to three lace legs, and thought I was okay to block. All those extra legs translated into two extra inches of length as you can see. I was absolutely stumped as to how I could fix it.

The most reasonable suggestion made was to frog the right front piece, which was much better than my idea to frog the whole thing. I'm still tempted to frog the whole thing and write a new pattern. However, reason ruled and the cardigan is cooling while I ponder what to do next with it. Which brings us to the whole reason for this post.


Every knitter I know lives to avoid this most dire of fates for their finished objects, but sometimes it's just inevitable. If, like me, you can't possibly figure out any other way to save your project, start by picking out your bound off edge. I like to use a thin but not sharp yarn needle to pull the loose end through the loops until I've gotten back to a row where it's purely knit stitches and not bound off stitches. Then I can pull on that sad, kinked end to unravel my stitches until I've reached a desired point - in this case, the other end of the front right bodice.

However, that sounds like a much smoother process than it really is. Some yarns, like cashmere and alpaca develop a halo either as you work with it or after it's been washed and blocked. True to form, the argosy yarn developed a lovely soft halo with form fitting drape. While I want that in the finished garment, it makes frogging difficult because some of that halo wraps around the yarn as you frog it. It forms something like a fabric bead that can almost knot one strand of yarn to another. As you might imagine, this is not a desirable thing for a piece you are frogging. When that happens, the smooth pull of the frogged yarn stops, and you'll probably have a long piece of yarn dangling from a loop with something that looks like a knot.

Stop pulling the yarn at this point, it will just make it worse. Remember that thin but dull yarn needle I used earlier? Bring that back out again, and use it to pull part the "bead" formed by the halo wrapping around the yarn. Sometimes, you can hold both sides of the frogged yarn in the front and back of the bead and pull it apart from the loop. Hold onto the loop while you pull apart the bead of halo, otherwise, you'll continue frogging the yarn below the loop and that makes for a tangled mess. Sometimes you may have to pick apart the fiber bead quite a bit to pull it apart before you can continue frogging.

I've found that the more halo a yarn develops, the more likely it is to form that fiber bead that makes frogging so different. That's why frogging yarns like mohair and angora is so difficult - they have halo in the skein, and the halo just gets fuzzier with knitting, washing, or frogging. These are the least forgiving yarns for mistakes that have to be ripped out. It's a lucky day if you can tink back a few rows in mohair, much less frogging more than that.

Other yarns that I've found difficult to frog include alpaca and cashmere. Both yarns knit up well, but their halo really comes out when you block or wash the knitted fabric. If possible, frogging is best done before you get them wet. Sometimes, that's unavoidable, especially if you're doing lace, where the pattern really doesn't appear until after it's blocked. Lace yarns are delicate to begin with, and frogging them must be done carefully. Sometimes knitting is enough to bring out a halo and that seems to make the yarn a little weaker and more prone to breaking when you pull the yarn out for frogging.

Wool tends to forgive frogging, at least the first time around. Depending on how tightly its spun, wool can be knitted and frogged several times before the fiber beads appear to make frogging difficult. However, single ply wool does NOT frog well at all. Cotton, even thread weight cotton, almost always forgives every frogging attempt. Silk, particularly the smooth silks, present a different sort of challenge. The slipperiness of silk practically allows the stitches to fall out from one row to the next, making it prime knotting territory. Bamboo can be prone to this problem as well, because it makes a notoriously slippery yarn. Acrylic forgives frogging almost as often as cotton does, and that sums up my review of different fibers and how well they frog.

A quick note on how to get rid of the kinkyness of yarn after it's been frogged, wind it up into a skein. Tie lots of figure 8 loops around it to keep the strands from getting tangled. Let the skein soak in a sink or bowl full of cool water, before gently squeezing out the excess water. You can roll it up in a towel and hop up and down on the towel to get rid of the water. Then, hang up the skein on a plastic hanger to dry. You can weight it down with more hangers hanging off the loop to pull the yarn straight if you so desire. Dyers and spinners will be completely familiar with this process. Give the skein at least a day to dry before you wind it up into a ball, and this should take most of the kink out.

In other news, I should have some exciting updates and news about the shop tomorrow. If people want, I can do a frogging tutorial with pictures to illustrate the process of frogging.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blue Blood

Or why you should wet block your lace.

I should have known this from the start, really. The haiku yarn is so saturated with color that I should have known it would bleed blue dye like it was stabbed through the heart and bleeding out the last of its royal blue arterial blood down to the last bleeding blue cell it had to give. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. It's sitting in my bathroom, bleeding out the last of the dye. (I hope.) The needles on which I knit the sweater are noticeably darker than the rest of the set. I thought it just might be the bamboo wood darkening with use. Oh, no. I took a picture so you could see. Check out the needles, the stain was strong enough my camera could see it.

Once upon a time, those tiny little US 1.5 needles were the same color as the larger size 7's in the picture. The changing colors of my needles should have told me that this was going to bleed. Being a high end yarn, I had the vague notion that the yarn wouldn't bleed, that the dye was well fixed into the fiber. I should have seen from the vibrant, saturated colors of the haiku yarn that it would. Anyways, I'm glad I decided to soak it for wet blocking. It's on bath number 3, and I will take more pictures so you can see just how much dye comes out of this yarn.

Why block?

Well, blocking is a process which quite literally transforms lace knitting from something the cat chewed up to a breathtaking heirloom. I don't have any stellar examples of unblocked versus blocked lace, but I do have some photos of before and after for the lace shrug that I made. This is what the lace looked like before I blocked it. It was also maybe 10 inches in width. The final width of that section, before I sewed it together, became 12 inches in blocking. But I get ahead of myself. Here's what happens after you block it. The lace opens up, the garment takes on larger dimensions than the size it was when it came off the needle. The size to which a piece of lace will grow depends on how hard you block it.

How do you block?

There are any number of ways you can block lace. If, like me, you have a love for supersaturated and vibrant colors, then you should let the lace item soak in cool water before you attempt blocking. Trust me. If you attempt to get the lace wet, and then spread it out on a blanket, carpet, or fabric surface, you will have a unique (read - stained) dye job left behind by the lace made from your vibrant yarn. A good rule of thumb is to let it sit in cold water for 15 minutes or more, before rinsing it out. If the water comes out clear after the rinse, then it might be okay to continue on with the process of blocking. If you're not sure, then let it sit for 5 minutes. Toss out the water after that time, and see how clear it comes out. If it's reasonably clear, you probably got most of the excess dye out.

A just-so-you- know moment - this will change the color of your yarn. It won't be quite as vibrant as it was before. However, with the excess dye gone, it will no longer stain your skin smurfette blue, like my sweater would have if I did not let soak away the excess dye. Returning to my out of order process!

Perhaps the easiest way to block is to simply spread out your lace as flat as possible on a large surface. A bed, table, or even the basement floor work well. I've used all three and then some. Ironing boards work well too. Then, with a water bottle or misting spray, spray water until it evenly coats the surface of your project. The surface of the yarn should be damp to the touch, not soaked through. Then, you can gently push and pull at the yarn until it lays almost flat on the surface of the bed or table. Like a fibrous form of clay, you can push and pull the yarn gently into the shape you desire. The weight of the water will sort of weight the yarn down, preventing it from snapping back to the crinkled shape. This is soft blocking, and it's just like what you'd do when you lay a sweater out to dry. You create a shape, but you aren't forcing it into one.

Hard blocking is when you pin that sucker down to dry, and it's not moving from that shape until you pry those nails pins out from the surface. Beds, foam board, ironing boards, soft, flat surfaces are required for this part. And a plethora of pins! Or, if you wish, you can buy a blocking set which includes rust-proof pins and blocking wires. Other people use string and pull it tight, so it acts just like a blocking wire. The point of all these tools and the pins is to pull the yarn into the desired shape, a triangle, rectangle, circle, a mobius strip - it's really all about the shape you want.

You can start out with a gently dampened lace, or you can soak the sucker, it's all about personal preference at this point. The more wet your project is when you start hard blocking, the longer it will take to dry. If you fear mold or something like that getting into your yarn, run a circulating fan in the same room where the project is drying. Some people fear the project shrinking because of the air circulating around the project, but I have never had that problem. Things dry faster when you have a fan. For me, that's a lesser likelihood of the cats eating my project while it dries.

Anyways, if you've opted to do what I've done so far - aka soak the sucker until there's no more dye to bleed - you have to get it to a not-sopping-wet state for blocking. I prefer to roll my projects in a towel and then stomp all over like I was reinacting the broadway musical. This may not be the preferred method for some. Other people like to put their project in a delicates bag - that zippered mesh thing that I should use more often - and run it through the spin cycle of their empty washing machine. However you get to this point, it doesn't matter. The point is that the project is throughly and evenly dampened. Then you can lay it out on the surface and pin it into the desired shape.

A clever trick for circular shawls is to cut a piece of yarn a few inches or so longer than the desired radius of your shawl. Pin one end of the yarn down in the center of your surface. Use the other end of the yarn to "draw out" a circle - stretch it out, pin the edge of shawl in one place. Move the end of the yarn a few inches along the edge of your circle, pin another point of the circle down there. Rinse, repeat, until you've gone 360 degrees and traced out your shawl's circle with the free end of the yarn. I've never used this trick, as I have yet to make a circular shawl, but I thought it was pretty cool.

As for me, the point of all this rambling was to occupy my time as I waited for my cardigan to bleed out dyes. I want to block it, sew the front and back together, and try it on before I throw sleeves on it. I'm sort of afraid the sleeve caps won't fit, but we'll see. I'll be doing a soft block on this lace, because the pattern was written with positive ease, and I want negative ease. And yet, I didn't decrease the pattern repeats! Go figure!

Yes, this will be a launching point for lace designs in the future. More pictures of the bleeding blue monster to come, once I have wrung out the last of its blue life blood.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Shop Talk ed.1

I'm so excited! I've finally gotten one of the things together that I had been planning almost from the inception of the shop. I have a video up and running on YouTube of the test we use on the stitch markers. Warning! This video is not for the knitting faint of heart! I abuse my own knitting to prove a point, that the stitch markers have been so well designed that they will not snag your knitting. Polished glass has more of a chance to snag your knitting that our stitch markers, especially if it looks like this.

I'm kidding - but not about the stitch markers, of course! Take a look for yourself. I'm so excited because none of this would have been possible without my snazzy new Eee PC! This sexy little baby will be the cause of my current yarn diet, and I'm okay with that. I was just expecting a fast little laptop where I could crank out excel spreadsheets for my lab class that runs for 8 hours a week. If we're lucky that is. If we're not that lucky, well then, that's just an 8 hour minimum. So I need to utilize any and all downtime that I have to get work done, be it homework, studying, notes, or lab reports. Hence the need for a working lap top to get stuff done. What I wasn't expecting was all the little extras with which it came.

There's the webcam, which you've seen evidence of over at youtube. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about my face being on youtube. I highly doubt I'll turn into a viral video. Then there's also the wonderful mic on the laptop that is ridiculously sensitive. We will not speak of how many test runs I did before the sound quality was to my satisfaction. There's still some static background hissing, but hey, this isn't a profession production studio. There wasn't a teleprompter in my living room giving me cues on what to do next on the video.

I really do hope the store does well, because I'm going to be dependent on its income for yarn money for a while. While the Eee PC is very affordable, it clears out the savings account of a college student working in a lab for minimum wage. Namely, me. So the almost manic devotion to getting the shop up and running and all together has distinct motivations. For example, I would love to knit my my craziest lace designs for the Cherry Tree Hill Competition. Think lace dress, perhaps a gown. Except, you know, I can't afford cherry tree hill yarn right now. What I can afford? Is this yarn from Etsy. In a month, after eating lots of ramen. So yeah, this degree had better be worth it, is all I have to say! So go shop and support your (almost) starving artists.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Knitting Knews

7/21/2011 - The webservice I use is back up and running! I apologize for the interruption and am happy to say that the free pattern PDF is available for download from this site as well as a free ravelry download.

4/25/2009 - First off, I want to apologize to everyone that has downloaded this pattern already. Two days ago, I found out there was a typo in the x-small version of the swirl skirt pattern. I deeply apologize to anyone and everyone who's tried making the version with 96 sts to cast on and been frustrated with why the lace pattern isn't working out. Rows 6-11 should read as follows:

Row 6: *[YO,K1] 3 times, k2tog, K7* repeat 7 times more. There is a total of 8 repeats of this pattern per round.

Row 7: *K12, K2tog* repeat 8 times.

Row 8: *[YO,K1,] 3 times, k2tog, K8* repeat 8 times.

Row 9: *K13, K2tog* repeat 8 times

Row 10: *[YO, K1] 3 times, k2tog, K9* repeat 8 times.

Row 11: *K14, K2tog* repeat 8 times.

The only thing that's changed is the k2tog in bold print. The reason I left it out is because I am a highly visual and intuitive knitter. When I had written the pattern for the x-small size, I'd made that lace motif 5 times, so I wasn't reading directions anymore, I was visually following the lace as it went. Pure muscle memory doesn't always translate into coherent directions and I'm sorry. Due to computer drama, I can't edit the pdf file of the x-small version right now. However, I have an mht file that I've uploaded to the same directory. You can save the corrected version of the x-small size, and both internet explorer and microsoft word will let you read the complete pattern and print it out if you desire. As soon as I am able, I will upload a PDF. (Lots of computer drama, my Heroes ability is the opposite of Micah. Apparently, I am a walking, talking EMP blast. Computers sense this and crash at random when I touch them. I fry power supplies by touching just one innocent button.)

In knitting news today, I'm over half way on Panel 2 of the front! I'm still no where near my dear friend, Mitz, is on her dress, but I'm enjoying it. I'm reaching the end of the panel and I can feel the drive to finish this section of the dress creeping into my blood. The relentless beat is in my pulse, and my fingers want to march in time with a finished object. It wants to be done, so I can try something new!

In other news, I finally swatched the etsy yarn - oh the suri halo! I have a feeling that when it's worked up, it will feel like the softest mohair ever. I love how alpaca blooms with just the slightest abuse when soaking it. Just a little swishing around in a sink full of water brings out the halo. It won't felt it, and it will create such a soft and warm fabric that's also incredibly light. Deliciousness!

I was a little disappointed in the lace pattern that I used; though, it was the ubiquitous lace clover pattern. The yarnovers in my swatch weren't even at all, and my gauge changed in 10 rows. I'm so tempted to try my hand at my own pattern, but with the yarn doubled, I'll only have about 600 yards or so to play with. I have a few patterns in mind to use as a launching point, but they can wait until I'm done with the ocean waves cardigan. I think part of the reason the tiny swatch drove me crazy was because I was already working on something in a fine gauge. One set of tiny needles at a time, please!

Although, I do have a little freebie for people that aren't on ravelry already. A while ago, I created a skirt pattern that I put up for free, but it was really only accessible through ravelry. I'll put it up here for people to enjoy and modify to suit their personal uses. (Read- not for commercial sale or use.) The Swirl Skirt pattern uses about 500 yards of bulky weight yarn on size US 10.5 needles. The first link is to a pdf file, for the size "x-small". This is the size "small" on me.

I have that in quotes because it's still very large on me, on the order of 4 or more inches of unstretched ease. The diameter of the waistline circle is 18 inches. This is the original one I made that has 112 stitches to cast on for the waistline.

The lace pattern is easy - it's built around a multiple of 8. So long as you reduce the number of stitches by a number divisible by 8, the lace pattern will continue to work. It can also be increased by a multipe of 8. So you could cast on 112 stitches for a larger size, or 84 for a smaller size. If you do want a larger size, I have instructions for the 112 sts cast on. Enjoy! I can't wait to see what other people come up the pattern if they do use it.

Other news updates - just finished a batch of markers, so those should go up in the shop within the next few days. I sent two of the row counters out with some friends for them to test out the design. It's going to need a little tweaking before it's ready to go up in the shop. I need to find a good, strong ribbon or string to use, which may necessitate a trip to the craft store. I'll keep everyone informed.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Let's make stone soup!

Here's hoping. I took the stone soup challenge, and pledged 20% of the shop's earnings to spend back on Esty. Am I excited? You bet! Except - to mangle a Jayne quote - "Let's see, 20% of nothing is still... oh wait a minute.. nothing!" To which Mal more or less tells Jayne to shut up.

I can't decide if I'd pull an Inara-esque retort or not. I probably would.

Returning back from that brief sojourn into the Firefly-verse, I am psyched about the etsy shop and stone soup pledge. I've started digging around Esty and finding favs, like this delicious silk and cashmere blend yarn. It's cobweb weight of course. Did we forget I'm crazy, and love yarns that torture me? I suppose I'm a knitting masochist, I love the beauty of fine yarns that I forget all about the pain, eyestrain, and needle stabs that knitting in tiny, tiny gauges causes.

Like the last yarn I just bought from Etsy - my first purchase to be exact, was the dreamy rose yarn. I could hardly wait to swatch with it, to tell you the truth. And then I discovered how thin the yarn really is. Thankfully, all the abuse of swatching and frogging brought out the Suri halo beautifully, and the yarn is even mroe soft and squishy and delicious. But I'm going to knit with it doubled, just because I don't want to go blind squinting at 000 needles that would be needed to knit a strand of this yarn.

Silence you. Knitting a cardigan at US 1.5 needles is way better!

Yeah, I know, nobody believes me. But the cashmere content makes knitting such a luxurious experience. The feel of the silk and cashmere sliding through your fingers as the needles seemingly weave this delicate fabric out of gossamer yarn. The soft drape of the lace as it falls down your fingers to form your garment, just giving a teasing hint of how sensuous it will feel against your bare skin when it's finished. Oh, the raptures of luxury yarn!

I can't decide if I want to knit the dreamy rose yarn in an established pattern or write one of my own. I have a lace pattern floating around my head, that got inspired by the vogue dress. I am going to limit myself, however, to two intricate lace projects at one time. Even I have limits on the insanity that I'm willing to attempt. Thankfully, the stone soup challenge is about shopping responsibly, and we all know I need help in that department!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Oh commercialism tastes so good...

Actually, my brain is a little fried right now. I've been up since 5:30 am or so, and I've only had 1 nap today.

On the happy upside, I've gotten ALOT done, including getting the shop up and running to my satisfaction. For those that care, it's at:

So far, all we're selling is stitch markers. Why? Here's the story. I bought some pretty stitch markers once, at an out-of-town LYS. Unfortunately, the best thing I could say about these markers is that they were pretty. They ate my yarn worse than a cat on crack. You could probably hear my cursing half way across the globe, as the markers snagged yet another strand. The not-so-great craftsmanship of the markers is what inspired me and the wonderful boyfriend to make an etsy shop with markers that don't eat yarn. I've tested all our stitch markers on my own lace knitting, just to show you how much faith I have in them.

There's so much more I meant to do with the shop, but I'm tired, and at the point where I forget things I should know. Like the teardrop faceted cut is called briolette. I had to look that up, which was a sad moment for me.

I do want to make a youtube video of the testing of the stitch markers, so that the faint of heart can see just how much you can abuse both yarn and marker without snagging. It was funny to see a friend's face the first time I showed her how vigorously I would rub the markers with lace. She delicately dragged the markers across one of my shawls. Me? I rubbed that sucker in there, pinched the marker between two fingers and rubbed like I was trying to polish the glass. No snags, but perhaps a heart palpitation or two on her part as she watched.

And I'll have to figure out those widget thingies. And possibly pimp out my shop in other ways. Joy's done such a great job with her shop, mine's been kicking around for how many months now? It's about time I got it into gear.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Busy as a bee

Well, sort of. After the insanity of finals week, we went to visit the boyfriend's parents. This resulted in lots of knitting time, luckily for me. I needed it. Thanks to the help of a fellow raveller, I was able to pick up the graduation dress without a math induced headache. She's challenged me to a friendly competition, and holy crap, she's already kicking my ass. She started the dress 2 weeks ago, and she's got more done than me already! She has everything but the lower half of the sleeves done on the upper half of the dress. She's already 3 inches into the skirt of the dress. Have I mentioned she's knitting it in the round?

It's a great challenge, because I started a new project out of anger against the dress. I've started the shaker cardigan from Rowan 25 and the Treasury of Rowan Knits book. I really should look through my own pattern books more often, I'd forgotten that I'd wanted to make the cardigan in the first place. I'd gotten some gorgeous silk/cashmere yarn (55/45) in a trade from a friend. It's argosy yarns, haiku 2 ply in their La Haina colorway. It's this gorgeous varigated blue that looks good on both sides of the fabric. Let me show you.

Can't tell which one is the right side or wrong side without having to look for the purl bumps. The first one is the right side. I'm debating making the cardigan reversible, it's just so darn pretty. I started it because I wanted to make something where I wasn't doing drastic changes to the pattern. Okay, okay, I made some changes to the pattern. I added the ribbing, and I'm doing it all in one needle size, 2.5mm. But those are all the changes I'm making, I swear! Except, I might make it 3/4th sleeve if I don't have enough yarn. If my usual lace yarn karma holds out, though, I'll have leftovers.

As you can see, the cardigan has distracted me from my graduation dress. So far, I have the front done.

I've made it so that I don't have as many ends to weave in, by incorporating the ends into the knitting. I like it, because there's less seams to sew and less ends to deal with later. I've started on panel 2 of the back.

I'm nearly at the 8 inches length required, so I pinned the back of the dress to the shoulder of my shirt to test the length. 8 inches barely covers my ass, so it looks like I'll be adding a bit of length. I know there's a second ruffle, but I don't trust ruffles. One good breeze and you're flashing the world.

As for other goodies, my goal this week is to get the etsy shop up and running. Expect to see more links because of it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I live in a crazy town

And they have made me queen. For good reason.

So, in the course of three weeks, I have learned to spin, and gotten two spinning wheels. I think that might be the reason I have inherited the crown. Yeah, about that. I don't even know how to spin on a wheel. I've never even tried. I tried to convince the boyfriend I just wanted maybe 3 spindles so I could perfect my spinning technique. No, no, he eared a million billion brownie points and bought an antique spinning wheel.

Not that I want to sound ungrateful, but I don't feel worthy enough to spin on a wheel yet. While the person who taught me says I'm a good spinner - I'm still just a beginning spinner. You know, someone who's just been spinning for 2 weeks. Okay, now it's 3. I can spin alpaca, but wool is the devil and everyone has lied about wool being easy to spin. It's easy for me to spin something my cat threw up if I use wool. Hmmm, maybe I can make cat toys out of that horrid beginner's wool...

The reason I got the second wheel was that we couldn't agree how to fix up the antique wheel. The bulk of the research has been my responsibility, and I wanted to make it into a single drive, scotch-tensioned system. The wheel, from the looks of it, was originally a fine yarn spinning wheel judging from the number of hooks. Oh, and it was double drive, with a canadian tension bar. Guess who wanted to restore it to original condition? Not me. I understand the argument to return it to pristine state, but I'd be afraid to use it.

So, I trolled around on e-bay for parts and lo and behold - I found a second wheel for a terrific price. As in less than 50 US dollars good. The seller had it listed as decorative, and so the auction wasn't doing so hot. Thus I entered into nail bitting negotiations to buy this wheel. I'm not kidding about the nail biting part. I established the wheel important parts still worked - at this point I knew what I could repair and what I could repair from all the extensive research. A wobbly wheel, or a bad flyer were things completely out of my league. Replacing the drive band and switching from double drive to single drive? CAN DO. Thus I find myself the owner of a second wheel. I am so incredibly excited, because this is going to be my workhorse, my wheel that I can tell "Dance for me, my puppet" and do whatever else the hell I want with it.

Okay, I might deserve the title of queen.

So, I'm happily helping the boyfriend restore the antique to pristine original condition. We've got 2 parts ready for restaining already, and we've had it a week. Oh! It's the last week before finals. Shouldn't we be doing something other than studying? I mean, studying for class, not studying about spinning wheels and repairs. Heh.

Other happy news - I traded 3 skeins of RKS Night for 1 glorious skein of Argosy yarn. It's haiku, a 45/55 silk/cashmere blend and I have yarngasms every time I touch it. It's a new color for me, dyed in shades of blue, from the color of the Aegean Sea to midnight blue. I kinda sorta want to do something with feather & fan, because the colors SCREAM for gently waving patterns. Or maybe I'm the only one hearing it say that. It's a delightful process trying to find JUST the right pattern for it.... as I work on the graduation dress.

Shut up. I love the hectic pace of crazy town.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Baby got back!

Soccer + Martial Arts = Butt Muscles

Which I forgot that I had. The largest measurement of my ass is 37 inches. I'm rather pleased by this number, since it makes a great hip to waist ratio. It also explains why I don't fit size 2 jeans anymore. Or size 4 for that matter. I think I'm okay with this.

The reason I'm suddenly obsessed with measurements is that I took my measurements today. Why bother? Because I really want to make a knitted lace dress by Vogue Knitting. And, as anyone who's ever made a Vogue pattern knows, Vogue does NOT use real people's measurements. Seriously? Who has a 26 inch waist and a 34 inch chest? NOT me. I've sewn Vogue patterns before, I should know better.

So, I took my measurements, and I'm throwing Vogue's measurements OUT the window. Thankfully, the majority of the background on this pattern is stockinette stitch, so it's easy to do increases and decreases and maintain the lace pattern. I don't have that much changing between my waistline and my bustline: about an 1.5 inch increase, or only 6 stitches to increase for 34 rows. For the back bodice, I'm doing 2 sts increased every 10 rows. I think that's right.

I am a little worried how well my chest will fit, since there is a 2 inch difference between my bust and bustline. I'm going to try increasing 2 sts every 3 rows, for 34 rows, which should give me more room in the bust. Thankfully, I'll be meeting with Joy later, who is much better at understanding this gauge and size thing than I am. It's not scary math, but it is alot of algebra. Oh, for those that care, my gauge is 5.5 sts by 7.5 sts per inch. It's been pretty consistent.

As for the yarn, I love Zephyr. I'm using the 2/18 laceweight doubled, and it has forgiven me every time I've frogged the bodice. At this point that's atleast 4 times. Yeah. So the yarn was totally a worthwhile investment. All it's done so far is gained a tiny bit of halo. Hopefully, this will be the last time I need to frog it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Knitting News Bulletin - for me anyways

So, all knitting is on hiatus until the socks are finished. Well, almost all other knitting. I got through most of the cabling on the second fingerless glove, mostly because I didn't have any reinforcing yarn with me to start on the second sock last monday. Oops.

I'm about 3 inches away from turning the heel. Considering that I cast on the second sock on tuesday, I think I'm doing pretty darn good. The first sock... well, it turned out any first project does. It's got quirks here and there from where I was learning how to do stuff. An engineer might call them "design features" like the centimeter wide hole I closed with the end of reinforcing yarn. There's also the half-row on the toe that's not fully reinforced because I ran out of yarn there. Things like that, just all around the sock, that I will ignore when I give the socks to the boyfriend. I've learned alot about how to make a toe up sock and what NOT to do.

Let me say, I hate embroidery floss as reinforcing yarn. It's almost as thick as sock yarn, and knitting with it is a pain! I hate knitting with yarn practically doubled on tiny needles. It made the heel and the toe the slowest part of the sock! Rargh. One thing did go right with these socks, though. I am in love with the ease of EZ's sewn bind off. Well, what I did may not be her bind off, exactly, but it's true to the spirit of it. I looped the long tail of the yarn through the last row twice, once through the front and once through the back of all the stitches so that they lay flat like they were knit. It looks nice and it's oh-so stretchy. I love it.

The goal is to get the socks done by valentine's day. I can totally make it... while trying to study for two midterms. I really have no concept of impossible.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Needles in a haystack

If you were to stick my hands into a hay stack and have me knit like that, then that's how I feel like when I knit on DPNS. Dozens of little tiny sticks constantly poke me while I try to make one single stitch. I realize, that at most, there's really only 5 needles, but with the way they cross and - I swear - tangle with eachother, it might as well be a dozen. If I haven't mentioned it before, I hate double pointed needles with a firey raging passion. The first pair of socks I ever learned, I learned to do on magic loop because I hate DPNs that much.

I was reminded of my passion about DPNs today, when I tried to finish a finger on the celtic knot gloves. Needless to say, I didn't make it through one finger. The poor gloves have been languishing at the bottom of my knitting bag for a reason, I hate hate hate DPNs. It's not even their fault, I had the brilliant idea of adding half fingers to a fingerless glove pattern. Perhaps it's the tiny amount of stitches on tiny yarn that I attempt to do in the round, that make DPNs so difficult. But is it really necessary for one needle holding a mere 4 stitches of fingering weight yarn to twist around completely and then tangle with another needle while I try to knit stitches on the opposite side of the finger? Really? Really?

Suddenly, I understand why people knit completely fingerless gloves. I ripped out the half finger I'd made and then proceeded to rip out the one complete half finger remaining on the glove. The glove is now happily finished, thumb gusset and all, patiently waiting for me to weave in the ends. I don't know why it never occured to me to try knitting the fingers on magic loop. I might not have such a passionate loathing against DPNs if I had thought of trying magic loop first. I've even started on the second glove, with the lovely wooden harmony circs. So perhaps I will have a second pair of fingerless gloves before winter ends.

I've also noticed that the cable on knitpicks needle is 100X better than the cable on my addis. The addi's I have get kinks in the cable, and acquire a certain amount of twist to them after I've used them for a month or so at a time. I can relax the addi cable again with a dip in boiling water, but I haven't had any problems with the knitpicks cable at all. I'm a convert. I may start slowly collecting every needle size Knitpicks has to offer.
Welcome to Crazytown, where my friends have proclaimed me queen. Why did they do that you ask? For some reason, there's very little that I fear about knitting. Hmm, a dress in laceweight done in lace knitting written by vogue? Sounds great! I have very few inhibitions when it comes to knitting, and that sometimes ends disasteriously. Apparently, other people think this signifies a level of crazy that only the royalty can attain. Follow along with my escapades as I dive head first into all sorts of insane techniques and projects without much more than an "Oh! That looks pretty, I can make it!"

Those will probably be my famous last words.