Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Distraction

I've been doing tons of knitting lately. Does that mean I have any progress photos to show of my personal projects? Nope, not a one. A while ago I had designed and knit some baby mittens for my Etsy shop. Well recently the last of them sold. And this being the beginning of prime mitten season, and also the time where the holidays are looming (translating into a very good time to stock your shop to overflowing) I decided to replenish the supply. I set a goal of listing 30 pairs of mittens. In my chronic case of delusion on how much knitting I can accomplish, I thought, "I'll have them finished in a week, maybe a few days more." And yes, I did have the sense to consider that during that time I also have to work my regular job, be a mom, and handle all the usual daily tasks like dinner, laundry, etc. But even with that in mind, I remained deluded. I am now one week into it and have completed ten pair. Granted, they are knit in fingering weight yarn. And there was that one little obstacle........I didn't have the sense to keep good notes when I originally worked out the design.......or even the foresight to place whatever notes I had in a location where I could, well, locate them. So I had to start from scratch, however, not being one who enjoys repeating the same mistakes over and over, the very meticulously written pattern is now in a composition book devoted solely to such things. Here's the first of the completed bunch, which I've dubbed the Falling Leaves Mittens:

Falling Leaves Baby Mittens 048 by you.

Falling Leaves Baby Mittens 045 by you.

I don't know that I'll be blogging much in the near future. There are so many things I'm wanting to get done right now. Also, any time I've been on the computer for pleasure lately, I've been reading your blogs. It's something I've gotten behind on lately, and I really miss it. So forgive my silence, but I'm much more in the mood to read about knitting, than to write about it. Now pardon me, I've some wee hand warmers to be working on.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Cure For The Restless

I think every knitter occasionally experiences bouts of restlessness, feeling uninspired, or whatever you want to call it. I know I do. And anytime I'm in one of those slumps, I'm very much wishing that I could find a way to recreate the feelings of enthusiasm I normally feel for my beloved craft. I also have a habit of mentally drawing parallels between my life/personality and my attitudes and habits in knitting. I think it stems from an ongoing desire to better understand myself and why I do the things I do.

For example, I know there's a part of me that resists change, that prefers the comfort of the familiar. But I also know that when I allow that part of myself to dictate, I always end up feeling like my life has stalled out. I become restless. Un-enthused. Even apathetic. When I get like that, it's always a sure sign that I need to stir things up. Try something new. Reexamine my goals, and maybe set new ones.

When I recently applied those thoughts to my current frustrating bout of knitting apathy, I felt inspired to push myself out of my crafting comfort zone. I cast on for my first pair of socks:



I chose the Hedgerow Socks, a free pattern from Knitter's Review. It was one of several patterns I was considering as a good first sock project. I went with this one because A) it's a widely knit pattern, so if I ran into any problems, I knew I'd have no trouble getting advice from someone who'd already knit them B) they were rated as an "easy" pattern by the 418 Ravelers who've made them C) I wanted something a little more exciting than plain stockinette, which the pretty texture of the Ribbed Stitch pattern provided, and D) within the pattern there's a link to a basic sock tutorial with instructions for all the techniques used in sock knitting (turning the heel, shaping the gusset, etc.).

I completed the first sock last night.



And? Did it do the trick? Was I able to restore my excitement for all things woolly? You tell me. Immediately after finishing the sock last night, I put it on my foot and admired it from every angle my level of flexibility would allow. Then I walked around my living room noticing how the sock felt, never taking my eyes off that foot (it's amazing I didn't walk into a wall). Then I reclined across the couch in front of the t.v. But I can't tell you what was on the idiot box, because I wasn't watching. I was peeking at my newly adorned left foot out of the corner of my eye. Then I sprang up and ran to my shoe closet to try on my brown healed loafers to see how they'd look with my new sock.

Okay, maybe I've just revealed way more dorkiness than any blogger ever should. But I'm a dork who's happy with her knitting. And that's nothing to scoff at.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When The End Is Not The End

I didn't intend to go a month without blogging. But at the end of July when I realized school started in only one month, and the end of Summer would be following close behind, I felt the need to squeeze as much sunny day fun as I could out of the remaining time. My computer has seen very little of me lately because of it. But through it all, I have still been knitting.

Buttony Sweater (1) by you.

North of those needles is nearly an entire Buttony sweater. What's missing is three inches of ribbing at the bottom. Oh, and I'm out of yarn. And that yarn has been discontinued. It's Jaeger Extra Fine Merino Chunky in the Petal colorway. But I have not panicked yet. I was able to locate two places where this yarn still exists. One of them is in a fellow raveler's stash, and it's even the same dye lot. I have not yet asked said raveler if she'd be willing to sell one skein (she has 20). That's plan B if plan A doesn't work out. The online shop where I originally purchased this yarn (a year and a half ago) still has some in stock. But she has it listed for sale by the 10 skein bag. All I need is one skein. So I emailed the shop owner inquiring about the dye lot, explaining my dilemma, and asking if she'd be willing to sell a single ball of it. That was three days ago, and I haven't yet heard back from her. Cross your fingers for me............

Buttony Sweater (3) by you.

Buttony Sweater (4) by you.

Buttony Sweater (5) by you.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Simple Shift

After a rousing game of Running-from-Mommy-while-she-tries-to-take-my-picture-is-hilarious, my dress model finally settled down enough for me to get a few shots of this FO.



















I mentioned this project only once before. It's actually been finished for over a month now, and Sophie's already worn it a couple of times.

The Details:
  • Started: May 12, 2008
  • Completed: June 10?ish?, 2008
  • Pattern: I modified Butterick pattern #B4118 (which you can see in the link above) from a top to dress.
  • Size: 3 (Which any of you who sew know, pattern sizes don't coincide with ready to wear sizes). Sophie has a narrow chest, but is also tall for her age. So whenever I sew for her, I usually have to blend the width of a smaller size with the length of a bigger size.
  • Fabric: A blue and white pin striped cotton that's been in my stash for so long I don't remember where or when I got it. It feels good to use up the stash. =)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

From The Archives

Today's post is from an idea that's been floating around my head for some time now. Anyone who's even remotely active in the online knitting community knows that like most areas of human culture, knitting has it's fads, it's "it" projects. Things that everyone and their sister are knitting/have knit, projects that are showing up on blogs world-wide. A perfect example of this is Clapotis, which on Ravelry alone, has 6,662 projects, with another 3,625 people who intend to make it in the future. And how about Jaywalker, Fetching, Odessa, Endpaper Mitts, or the Central Park Hoodie? I'm sure you could add at least twenty more names to that list. And while many of these patterns are on my To-Knit list, the point of "From The Archives" is to highlight some very cool knitting patterns that for whatever reason, never rose to knitting fame. I use the term "Archive" loosely. These could be patterns that were published 4 months ago, or 65 years ago. As for some of the vintage ones, who knows? They may have been a cult classic in their own time, but I wasn't alive to know it. =) Occasionally you may have to look past big hair or tacky accessories in order to see what a purl in the rough an old pattern is. And I may even throw in a sewing or crochet pattern here and there.

My first is example is a sweater from the Fall-Winter 1968 issue of Good Housekeeping Needlecraft.



The "Belted Cardigan" is knit at a worsted weight gauge. I'm considering making this one myself.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ravelry Stash

I've started adding my stash to my Ravelry page. I'm doing a little at a time, as I find the time. At this point it appears I only knit with cotton yarn. That's because I keep my stash organized in baskets by weight and in some cases, fiber. I grabbed the basket of cotton yarn and started photographing it first. Other fibers to come as I get to them.





I'm also working on a project that I've yet to mention here.





Most of you will recognize it as the much loved Rusted Root from the talented ladies at Zephyr Style. I'm about 60% finished, and the knitting has flowed without any problems. I'm using Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in the Perry's Primrose colorway, which I purchased at Little Knits.



Monday, July 7, 2008

Buttons The Second

Early in the summer, the small town I live in held it's annual town-wide yard sale. I've always enjoyed such events. You truly never know what you'll find, and a large part of the fun is in the looking. Imagine my excitement when the first house we stop at is displaying vintage buttons for sale. The owner must have quickly picked up on my enthusiasm, as she came over and asked where my interest in the buttons stemmed from. I told here I love to knit and sew, and have been actively trying to expand my collection. She then became animated in her own excitement of having found a like-minded soul, telling me she's an avid collector and frequents shows in various states to buy and sell vintage buttons. We talked for awhile, she showing me some of her favorites, and even going into her house to retrieve a tin of her personal stash. She said she had a particular fondness for the old fabric covered ones, holding out a tiny set that were fashioned by the previous owner from a bygone era to match the dress they'd adorned - a muted cream and pink small scale floral. In the end, I chose my favorites and continued on down the street. No other house we stopped at that day had anything like the first, but it had made the whole adventure worthwhile.



On the bottom right, pink and cream celluloid buttons. Celluloid was first invented in 1868, and is considered by some to be the first plastic ever invented, although bakelite, celluloid's successor, actually holds that title. According to AntiqueButtonCollecting.com, "Celluloid is not a true plastic because it is formed of a mixture of both synthetic and organic materials, whereas bakelite is completely synthetic. Antique celluloid buttons from apparel and home d├ęcor pieces can be quite fragile precisely because celluloid does contain organic materials, which degrade over time. The celluloid can “crystallize”, which causes the antique celluloid buttons to harden and finally crumble. It is best to store your antique celluloid buttons in a cool, dry place, away from all metals, heat and humidity. However, do not store them in airtight containers, as the celluloid needs to breathe."



The two sets on the left are made of bakelite, which was most popular from the 1920's to the 1940's. The brown ones are known as 'Carved Platters'. These were typically found on coats, which is why they are almost always black or brown. In the center are two wooden buttons with beveled edges. I'm not sure how I'll ever use these ones on my hand knits. The metal shanks on the backside are showing signs of rust. Considering I allow most of the items I knit to air dry, it'd only be a matter of time before some damage was done. Maybe I could coat the shanks in some type of sealant??



And lastly, here are some more modern editions I picked up at the fabric store on my last trip. I must have vintage on the brain, though. Don't the girls remind you of 1920's Flappers?





Monday, June 23, 2008

FO: Child's Classic Ribbed Cardi

This one is long overdue. It's been finished for nearly two months, but for one reason followed by another, I've only just now gotten to photographing and posting about it.

Child's Classic Ribbed Cardi















Details:
  • Started - January 30, 2008
  • Completed - April 30, 2008
  • Pattern - From Bouton d'Or, No. 14 Layette & Junior, Jacket #23
  • Size - The pattern only went up to a size 4 years. Based on the measurements, that size looked like it would fit Sophie (who's 6) width-wise, especially considering it's done in a stretchy rib. I added length to both the body and sleeves, and recalculated the raglan shaping on the fronts, back, and sleeves in order to lengthen it to her measurements. There's a very useful explanation of how to do the latter in Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book.
  • Needles - Pair of size 6 US straights for body, and size 4 US circular for button band and collar
  • Yarn - Rowan All Seasons Cotton. A worsted weight, cotton/acrylic/microfiber blend with 98 yards per skein. I used colorway 186, which is a dusty lilac. Approximately 7 1/4 skeins for a total of 710 yards.
  • Mods - Aside from the sizing modifications, I also omitted the cables at the hem and cuff. I didn't like the way they flared out on the model in the book. Oh yeah, and the pattern called for the yarn "Ksar", by Bouton D'or, which I obviously didn't use.
  • My Thoughts - This was an enjoyable project. I made it with a little room to grow, so Sophie will be able to wear it for years to come. I know she likes it because she requested to wear it often when the weather was still cool, and would tell anyone who'd listen, "My mommy made this sweater." =)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

FO: Tooth Fairy Pillow

This was such a quick project it didn't stay on the needles long enough to gain a blog mention. It's a super cute softie for stowing a child's tooth in while awaiting a visit from the Tooth Fairy. No more worries of a tiny tooth getting lost in the bedding, or waking your child as you clumsily fumble in the dark searching for the errant tooth. The little pocket on the back of our enamel-y friend ensures that. This is a free pattern made available by My Fair Katie.

Sophie discovered her first loose tooth a couple weeks ago, and then I stumbled across this pattern on Ravelry during one of my many project queuing sessions.

Tooth Fairy Pillow









Details:
  • Started - June 8, 2008
  • Completed - June 15, 2008
  • Yarn - 1/2 a skein of Cotton Classic by Tahki, in white
  • Needles - set of five size 5 US DPNS, and a size 5 circular in a 16" length
  • Finished Dimensions - 3" wide by 4 1/2" tall
  • My Thoughts - I thought this was a well written pattern with detailed descriptions of all the needed techniques included. There's also a link to a great tutorial on the provisional cast on - this was the first time I used that technique, and I had no problems. I love how the top indents and has all the nooks and crannies of a real tooth.
  • Mods - I opted for a fabric pocket rather than a knitted one. I sewed two layers of a floral print flannel together with right sides facing, leaving an opening for turning. After turning, I pressed and edge-stitched the pocket on my machine. Then I hand-stitched it to the back of the tooth. I also used plastic doll eyes in place of embroidering them on.
  • If I Knit It Again, I Would Change - Nothing! I'm happy with how this turned out. And Sophie squealed when I gave it to her. =) She likes it, and that's what matters most.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

There she sits.............and sits........

I analyze things. I'm perpetually wondering "why?", or "how does that work?", or something else along those lines. I like to understand things/people/etc. And what I don't understand, I feel driven to figure it out. For as long as I've known me, I've always been that way. So when I finished knitting the Summertime Tunic, set it down only needing to block it and sew the straps in order for it to be finished, and then didn't touch it for weeks.............I got to thinking. I do this often with a project. I work on it with enthusiasm until it's so very close to being finished, then I walk away from it. Sometimes for days. Often for weeks. Occasionally for months. And now I understand why I do it. I'm delaying the moment of truth. The moment I find out if a project is everything I'd hoped and dreamed it'd be. I've suffered my share of knitting and sewing disappointments, and ......................er, scratch that. Can I be completely honest with you? Can I admit something that I would be ashamed to tell a room full of knitters? {Deep Breath}
I've never been completely happy with any garment I've ever knit for myself!

There, I said it. Or blurted it out, rather..........................Wow. That wasn't so bad.........freeing, even. And nothing horrible happened. My monitor didn't start flashing red with the notice that I'd been banned from Ravelry, my blog suspended because I'm a knitting impostor, or my stash disappear in a poof of spontaneous combustion, melting all my needles into a molten blob in the process.

But it's true. I've never once put on a finished knitted garment and felt that swell of pride and excitement that comes with a job well done. I've made things for others and felt that way. I've made accessories and felt that way. But never a garment for myself.
Did you ever hear the expression, "Asking questions will lead not only to answers, but more questions as well?" I started to wonder why all of my personal projects ended in something less than elation. Yes, there were the standard variety of reasons, including (but not limited to) poor yarn substitutions, impulsive (and poorly thought out) changes made mid pattern, fitting issues, laziness, and freakish sleeves. But there was also one other reoccurring theme. I am incredibly critical of the things I make. Even more so of the things I make and then wear on my body. While I do see the upside to this quality (everything has an upside, right?) - it gives me the drive to continually improve, and insists that I only accept a certain level of quality, the downsides can't be ignored. I drive myself crazy. I forget to notice what is right about my project, because all I can see is the perceived flaw. I fail to recognize that for every mistake I've made, I've learned something. Which makes me a better knitter than I was before I cast that project on. I think it's time I told my inner critic to shut up. Or at least tone it down a bit. She's gotten too big for her britches.


It looks like a shapeless sack, says the crotchety nag who lives in my head.

But I'm going to have faith that once the finishing touches are added, and it's on a 3 dimensional body, I'll have reason to feel a little proud.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Closure

Something I've never told you guys - I've had this fantasy of being a button lady for quite some time. By that, I mean I imagined having a large collection of beautiful buttons of all shapes, colors, sizes, and materials that I store in a vintage tin. I love the idea for a variety of reasons. Similar to the joys of having a yarn or fabric stash, imagine the fun of rummaging through and admiring the beauty and possibilities of all those practical baubles. Of knitting a sweater and consulting the tin with the knowledge that the perfect closures can be found within. The memories it'll create for Sophie as she whiles away an afternoon playing with the colorful whosits and whatsits at the kitchen table. I already had a small (as in it could barely be considered a collection) assortment of buttons that I kept in an entirely unromantic clear plastic box. And Sophie already does like to take them out and play with them. But I tend to use them up faster than I purchase them. Recently I took a trip to the fabric store and bought a few cards of new buttons, that had no immediate use in mind. Actually, I originally had five times as many cards piled in my shopping cart, before I talked some sense into the impulsive shopper in me (you'd be amazed how quickly $1.50 - $7.00 a card can add up).







When I got home, I called my mom and asked her if she happened to have any old cookie tins lying around. She told me she'd look, and true to her word, the next time I saw her she handed me a genuine vintage cookie tin. I quickly placed my growing collection into their new home and sat back to admire.

Oh, and by the way, it would be completely ridiculous to go into a fabric store and not actually buy fabric, don't you think? I knew you all would understand my reasoning. =)


Unlike the buttons, this is stash with a plan.

The top three are cottons for summer dresses. The pink and white striped is a cozy flannel for button up pajamas w/matching pants. The mauve baby corduroy is for a pair of capris. And the white muslin on the bottom is a very light weight cotton for lining some fabrics that I want to sew summer tops/dresses with, but that might not be quite opaque enough to maintain a girl's modesty. ;)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Never Again

I can't tell you how many times I've browsed my knitting books or Ravelry, found a pattern I wanted to make, selected the yarn and then discovered I didn't have one of the knitting needle sizes I needed. This was mostly in the case of circular needles. I found it very frustrating to not be able to cast on until I'd hunted down and purchased the right needles. And it was never as simple as buying for example, the size US 6 24" circular the pattern said I needed. I tend to knit loosely compared to many pattern's gauge/needle size recommendations. So I'd have to buy a size 4, 5, and 6 to ensure I'd be able to get the right gauge. Well, those days are over my friends!


I ordered the Knit Picks Options set, the size 0-3 24" fixed circulars that the Options doesn't include, 16" fixed circulars in sizes 0-9, and the 6" double pointed sock needle set. Oh, and one more thing was in the package:


My first sock yarn!

I've never knit a pair of socks before, and I'd like to try in the near future. That's two skeins of Knit Picks Gloss (70% Merino, 30% Silk) in the Dolphin color way.

I was finally able to cast on th Summertime Tunic on Friday. It was one of those projects that I didn't have the correct needle sizes for. More details and pics to come.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

When Your Knitting's Got You Down, Say Sew What

The Mini Sweater, my first top down project..................it's a failure. =( I ripped back and fix the shoulders/sleeves to make them wider. Then I put the sleeves on holders and knit my way down the body, made a nice neat button hole, and bound off. I tried it on right away only to discover this:



It fits in the sleeves, it fits in the front. But the back......................that's a whole 'nother story. In order to fix it, I would have to rip waaaaaay back to nearly the beginning, and well, I have no desire to do that. I could save the sweater in hopes that one day I'll sprout an enormous hunchback and be able to wear it. Or not. I'm frogging this thing. I'm dying to start on some summer projects. Maybe one day I'll attempt the Mini Sweater again. It is such a cute pattern.

I was feeling pretty disappointed from my failure, and wanted a quick project to restore some of my crafting self esteem. So I whipped up a summer dress for Sophie on the sewing machine. I altered top B on this pattern to be a dress:



I just need to make the bow for the neckline, add the elastic to the waist, and sew the hem. But here's a sneak peek:



It's in a light weight cotton blend with tiny blue and white pin stripes that my camera refuses to see.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Spitting On My Knitting

I've learned a new technique, and I'm a little excited about it. First, see exhibit A:


That used to be two ends of yarn

While working on my Mini Sweater, I reached a point of needing to attach another ball of yarn when I was very near the end of a row. I didn't like the idea of ripping back that row and then waisting such a long tail of yarn. I remembered that recently I had been listening to some of the older Stash & Burn episodes, and they had talked about spit splicing and given a link to a tutorial. The Jaeger Extra fine Merino I'm knitting with is a perfect candidate for this technique (100% wool and not superwash). I was amazed how quickly and easily the two ends felted together - in less than 30 seconds of rubbing them in my palm. Being the skeptical type, who doesn't believe something unless she's tested it out for herself, I of course gave the newly attached join some good hard tugs to make sure they were secure, and they were - impressively so. This is a technique I plan to use wherever possible in the future.

Since we're on the topic of the Mini Sweater, I'll give you an update. You may recall that the last time I touched it was a couple months ago. I had reached the point of needing to slip all the stitches onto scrap yarn in order to try it on, and then promptly set it aside to cast on for another project. Two days ago I finally tried it on and found that it wasn't yet big enough. The sleeves have to meet under your arms before you're ready to move on to the next step. So I put all the stitches back on the needles and knit eight more rows, including four increase rows. Then I tried it on again. The sleeves still didn't quite fit, yet the front and back were starting to look dangerously close to the verge of being too big. Grrr. >= ( It seems my deltoids are a little bigger than most people my size. I'm currently knitting on the sleeves by themselves and hoping that works out.

Remember how my plan was to finish the Child's Classic Ribbed Cardi before I went back to the Mini Sweater? Well I'm happy to report that things are coming along as planned - the Cardi is finished, finito, done-da-done-done-done! And I love it. It's currently sitting on my ironing board, folded up all pretty. I occasionally glance over to admire it. =) I'm hoping to get pictures of it on Sophie and put together an FO post sometime next week.

Happy knitting.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I May Be Knitting These For My Grandchildren

So I've been pondering how realistic the size of my Ravelry queue is. Which currently numbers 344 (that's including my 'Favorites' which I've already confessed are queued projects in disguise). I did a little math. I'm 28 years old now. If I live to be 88 years old, which is a completely realistic expectation considering the women in my family tend to last until their late 90's, that gives me 60 years of knitting time. According to my calculator, that means I only need to knit 5.73 projects a year in order to complete everything in my queue. Totally do-able if you ask me! But it also occurred to me that when I'm in my later years, I may no longer have the body to wear some of the projects:









Those are four of my favorites from Kim Hargreaves new book, Nectar, that went on sale a few days ago.