Knitting: a love/hate relationship

It’s safe to say that there is no hate in my love of knitting itself. The final products, however, are a different story. I love them at first then, about half-way through, I begin to hate them. Even if I don’t encounter any issues with the knitting or the pattern or the yarn, there is always a moment (or a day) when I fall out of love with my projects. Most of the time I fall back in love with them shortly after I start hating them-I’m fickle that way, just be grateful you never dated me.

This time I’ve fallen out of love and there’s no going back. I finished “Blake” the other day. Completely finished. All that’s left to do is block, sew in a few ends and add some buttons (which I’ve already purchased, by the way). I won’t do those things though. I won’t do them because I truly hate this sweater.

There’s nothing wrong with it. The pattern was well written and easy enough to get through. The yarn was a delight (except for the random knot here and there). It’s just that this sweater is so not “me”. Image So why did I fall for it in the first place?

That’s an easy one to answer. I tried too hard. I think creating things has to come organically to a certain degree. At least it does for me. I find, I’m rarely satisfied with anything I try to hard to make work.

I’m not sure what’s to become of this yarn ultimately but, for now, it’s headed to the ball winder where it will be wound up into nice neat little balls of pretty yarn then stored away until the day inspiration strikes. Hopefully before I buy more yarn but probably not.

On a much brighter note, I’ve also been working on a new crocheted bag by Annette Petavy Design called “Italian travels” and so far I’m really loving it. I think I will do the construction a bit different than directed but I love this stitch pattern and her instructions for the handles are great.

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The case for polygamy

My Husband has what, up until now, I have always called a “bad” habit. His night table is littered with books, all of them in some stage of being read. He doesn’t pick up a book and read it from beginning to end and then move on to another book, rather, he picks up a book and starts reading it then puts it aside for a day or two to go back to another book he started some other time then goes back to the new book…and back and forth and back and forth.

Literary polygamy I’d call it and, as with any other form of polygamy, I can’t figure out how he can keep track!

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I like to start something and then finish it before moving on to the next thing. This is how I knit. I start a project, finish a project, start another project, finish it etc… Now, the good thing about this process is that it doesn’t leave a lot of unfinished business in ones life but, on the other hand, it can be a little stifling. You know that section that comes in every knitting project where all you can think about is finishing? The section where you start swearing at the yarn and calling said project nasty names? It’s usually the section between the armholes and the hem or the section where you knit the lace repeat for the umpteenth time. That’s the section where I get a little bored, but rather than cast on a new project, I’ll put my project down and waste time trolling through Ravelry for (yet) another “perfect” sweater pattern. “The one I’ll start next”, I tell myself. This is rarely true though, as my Ravelry queue is already full to bursting and there are many, many things on there that I’d truly like to make.

One day last week I read an article on the “knitting daily” website by Kathleen Cubley. Kathleen had this to say:

 

I also love starting projects, and I let myself start new ones while old ones are still in progress. I find that new projects keeps my enthusiasm for knitting at top speed. To me, looking at yarn and patterns and starting new projects is the lifeblood of knitting—there’s always something new to work on!

She then goes on to quote knitting master Vicky Square on the same topic.

Yet recognizing that creativity is fluid, I want to keep a steady stream of new experiences flowing with as many different kinds of projects as I can manage.

And it occurred to my that I’ve been missing out here. I do love the process of starting a new project and, sometimes, I feel quite “locked-in” by my current WIP. I  do, after all, have masses of yarn that can be started on and, truth be told, could easily undo anything I start and don’t like. I usually allow myself to start the swatching for a new project when I near the end of my current WIP but what’s wrong with doing more than that? I think I’ve always been afraid that, if I don’t charge through to the end then I’ll never get there, but so what? What if I took a little more time and decided I just didn’t like the project? Wouldn’t it be better to stop half way through and frog than to keep pushing to the end only to find I’d spent precious knitting time on something I don’t even want?

Part of this is guilt, I’m sure. Once I buy a new pattern I feel obligated to knit it. Heck, I feel obligated to knit a pattern that’s been gifted to me! I think it’s time to reevaluate my knitting philosophy. Henceforth I shall  throw all caution to the wind and knit whatever I like, no guilt involved,and just see what happens.

Starting today. I now have two (that’s right two) knitting WIPs going and one crochet project. It may take me a little longer to finish each project but then I’ve never considered myself a “project” knitter anyway but more of a “process” knitter (not that you’d know based on my knitting habits). So far I’m really enjoying this new found freedom and, who knows, I might even go for three one day.

How many WIPs do you currently have going? Do you have a knitting “philosophy” that relates to this? Let’s hear about it!

If you’d like to read the complete article “Don’t be a knitting monogamist” you can find it here. And, if you don’t already subscribe to the knitting daily blog you should check it out. It’s one of my regular reads.

Knitter’s red carpet part 2…

If my post from wednesday was all about the knitting world’s “old guard” (to keep the Oscar theme going we’ll call them the Robert Deniros and Jessica Langs of knitting) then today’s post is about the new guard, the indies and the up and commers. There are a lot of them out there so I’ve tried to stick to my top ten. Let’s see how I do…..

Numbered, but not in any order of preference (that would be too difficult)

  1. Joji Locatelli
  2. Kate Davies
  3. Fallmasche
  4. Vera Valimaki
  5. Kyoko Nakayoshi
  6. Lisa Mutch
  7. Kieran Foley
  8. Atelier Alfa
  9. Suvi Simola
  10. Jane Richmond
  11. Wolly Wormhead
  12. Molly Woodtagger
  13. Rachel Coopey
  14. Jennifer Wood
  15. Anne B. Hanssen
  16. Faima Othman

I told you it would be hard to keep it to 10. BTW, our red carpet would be hand-knit in a delicious Malabrigo yarn in Ravelry Red (pictured at top) of course.

It should also be noted that this list based on my personal knitting preferences (which should be obvious, but just in case) and, since I prefer knitting sweaters, they are predominantly sweater designers. And, of course, there are many more, too many to list so I will stop with these.

All links are to either designer’s website/blog (when available) or their Ravelry page.

In other news I plan to watch the Oscars on Sunday and, with any luck, I’ll finish the lace part of SweaterBabe‘s “Night and Day Infinity scarf” by then and will be able to mindlessly knit my way through the brioche section.

My “Blake” cardi is almost finished, just the collar left to do, and I hope to be wearing it in front of my T.V. on Sunday. My beloved “thundersnow” bag is on the back burner until I can manage to stop obsessing over my yarn choices.

Have a great weekend.

Red Carpet Knitting

With the Oscars right around the corner and , being knitish, I was thinking that  we should have a super-glam red-carpet event to showcase the elite and famous knitters and crocheters of the world…..

 

Insert dream bubble here

queue dream-like music

It would start with:

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The inimitable Elizabeth Zimmerman, of course, followed by…

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Her daughter Meg Swanson (Schoolhouse press)

559755then knitting (and crocheting) geniuses  Maggie Righetti (amazon page),

Barbara G. Walker at Sock Summit 2009.  Barbara G. Walker,

and Deborah Newton (amazon page)th_033then awe-inspiring designers Nora Gaughan (blog)

Norah-Gaughan1and Annie Modesittth_016some media celebs…

editorial genius and television personality Ms  Eunny Jang (knitting daily)

Eunny-Jang fellow TV  personalities

Kristin Omdahl (blog)

th_027 Brett Bara (blog)

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Vickie Howell
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And Drew Emborsky the Crochet Dude! (blog)th_031

Our red carpet wouldn’t be complete without  a Brit or two.

DBSS13EdLetterQuintessential Brit knitter and my personal knitting hero Debbie Bliss,

Color King Kaffe Fassettkaffe_fassett

( I think he’s Irish, does that count?) and fellow color-phile Brandon Mablyth_016 Then to top it off I’d have the adorable, funny (and super fast) Ms. Lily Chin 

as my red-carpet reporter a la Joan Rivers!th_013

Ok so that’s my knitters fantasy red-carpet (the short version, trust me it could be much longer)

Who would you want on your red carpet?

 

 



 

 


blue, orange, green

So it seems I’m a bit consumed by color lately. It’s funny how, sometimes you start thinking about something and then all of a sudden that something pops up everywhere you look. Case in point: color.

Last week I posted about my penchant for choosing the most inappropriate colors for my skin tone which got me to thinking about what colors I would want to be knitting for spring, and just then, lo and behold, this article popped up on my radar. Vicki Archer of French Essence is touting cobalt blue Image as the color of the season.

Tess’ designer yarns “cobalt blue”

lady of the lake - hand dyed lachesis bluefaced silk laceweight (in stock)
Now Cobalt is a color I can wear, and I happen to like it a lot but, just as I was about to place an order for something luscious in this stunning color, I received THIS E-Mail from Bergdorf-Goodman proclaiming that Orange

is going to be  the color of the season for spring 2013.
So I found…..
MIGHTY - corriedale sock - Tang
I love the name “Tang” it makes my mouth water because I always associate it with the drink mix which was particularly “tangy” straight from the jar.
and
Article: #487-135   Persimmon: <p>Tangerine orange</p>
Orange. Another color I both love and can wear well. But wait…the Sunday New York Times Style claims that bright green
is actually going to be the color this season.
I’m not sure how much I believe this one as it was pretty hard to find any editorial evidence of it  but I did find these lovelies:
Hand Dyed Merino Worsted weight yarn- Three-Leaf Clover
Sari Ribbon - Leaf
100g Solemate Hand Dyed 4ply Sock Yarn: Emerald City
And green is another color I can wear, especially this saturated emerald green.
Truth be told though, I will probably end up with something in a firey fuchsia or muted  medium grey. We’ll see. In any case I think I’m over the color thing for the moment. No promises though.

staying on track

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While there are about a thousand things for one to keep track of during the course of a week (or day for that matter) the most important tracking for me is of the knitterly kind. Where am I? Where did I stop? How long until I’m finished with this monster?

I’ve been searching for a practical and easy way to do this since I started knitting forty some odd years ago and I’ve found some methods are definitely better than others.

For example, while the method pictured above does have the advantage of being completely portable and readily available to just about anyone who owns a pen, it also has the disadvantage of being not quite permanent. It will, obviously, disappear with a good wash-not entirely a bad thing but then the information is gone.

DSCN6606These little barrel-like row counters are quite handy and, in today’s electronic world, quite modest and quaint but not exactly esthetically pleasing, easily lost and have limited storage capabilities (i.e. they can really only tell you what row you are on).DSCN6599These pretty little knitting gems ( from Hide and Sheep) are a handy way to keep track of rows and repeats. The little stitch-marker thingy on the right will tell you if you are on the right side or the wrong side of your work and you can get any number of stitch markers with numbers or letters on them, alerting you as to when you should decrease/repeat/increase etc. I love these little things. They are pretty and fun and sparkly. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to operate this counter/bracelet mechanism. I gave the directions a cursory read then tossed them in a drawer along with the counter. (Don’t bother trying to explain it to me. I’m pretty sure I don’t really want to know.  I’m guessing I  just wanted an excuse to buy something pretty and shoes were not in the budget.)

In the Old-timey world of paper and pens there is a system called “After this row” (pictured below) which can be downloaded to your computer and printed out at your convenience.DSCN6595This is a nice system if you’re completely anal retentive and want to track everything from your needle size to how you feel about your project but, quite frankly, that’s more than I need. I really just want a handy, efficient way of staying on top of my project.

I don’t want to poke fun though, this is actually a very nice system and I think a lot of knitters really like it. You can print out the whole thing for each project and keep all of the info for future reference in a tidy binder or something and, you also have the option of just purchasing the tracking sheets without all the other extraneous (IMO) info. It’s also quite inexpensive and completely portable.

These days, you can also go high-tech and buy a digital system for your cell phone or tablet. I’ve used Jakro Soft’s  “J-knit pro” app with some success. It’s relatively easy to understand, is 100% portable and holds a fair amount of information (including a nice, easy to see, counter and a PDF download option)  and the developer offers several tutorials on the in’s and out’s. It’s also pretty inexpensive as long as you already own the digital device. The down side to this particular app is that all of your pattern info has to be hand typed into the system’s portal and then uploaded to your device allowing plenty of opportunities for human error. Not to mention frustration. Additionally, there’s no highlighter bar to help you see your current row on a chart etc. This app does have some patterns already available and they are good ones too but, if one of the ten million other patterns in the world are what you want to knit, you’re on your own.

The “Knit Companion” is another app I’ve tried (free version only) which is more detailed  than the Jakro app. It has all kinds of capabilities, highlighter bars, row counters, stitch markers, PDF downloads/imports (whatever it’s called, I’m not a techie) , chart cropping and more. This, of course, means that it’s much more confusing upon first look. It’s actually sort of off-putting, if you ask me, but they do offer a plethora of video tutorials on how it operates and a free, webinar that was really interesting. I would buy this app myself because I think, once you know how to use it, it’s pretty much everything a knitter could want. The downside? It doesn’t work on the original I-pad (I-pad 1) which is what I have. I think (check first though) it works on all subsequent versions. I will buy this app whenever I upgrade my I-pad but that’s not happening today. I have to pay the government first.

Until the Hubbs decides he can’t live with my whining anymore, I will stick with my tried and true method:

DSCN6584A spiral bound notebook, an (easily lost) pen or pencil, a highlighter pen and a (usually messy) copy of my pattern. This notebook from Tricksy knitter is my favorite for tracking because it’s knitter’s graph paper which allows me to chart out any patterns that aren’t already charted for me and, besides, it’s got a cute cover.

I also like the paper and pen method for the simple reason that I tend to “think” a lot as I knit and I can easily jot down notes and ideas as I knit along (can’t do that on an I-pad can you? or geez, maybe you can!). Well, I like notebooks anyway, at least until one of the dogs sits on them. It’s not easy to retrieve a notebook from under a 150 pound St Bernard, but then it’s not easy to get an I-phone from under there either.

Spring is in the air….

Yes, I know it’s only the middle of February and I’m still in for at least one more good dose  of snow before the season is over (probably around Easter) but, here in south-east Michigan, the weather has warmed just enough to melt the snow and turn my thoughts towards spring knitting.

I’m almost finished with my Blake cardi so I’ll need a new project before too long anyway and…..

SweaterBabe.com just came out with a new pattern: “Simply SweaterBabe Top-Down cardi”

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Maybe made up in…..

 

Sunday Knits Nirvana in “Rain”. This would look fab with a pair of  skinny, camel colored, cords and a white T or thrown over a pair of charcoal leggings with a big white shirt and some chunky boots?

I’ve been itching to make Anne B. Hanssen’s Outdoor Girl for ages:

and feel like it would be a welcome addition to my wardrobe in say:
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How cute is that over a pair of dark blue jeans?
 
For something more subtle I’m liking Jennifer Dassau’s Jilted (from Holla knits)
In some Madeline Tosh Merino Light (Steam Age) that’s been languishing in my stash for a while now:
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and would look sweet over my navy blue, 1950’s, slip-come-dress.
But none of them are going to look good with anything if I don’t get back to knitting and finish up this “blake”, which I’m hoping to do by the beginning of next week.
In other news, have you all noticed the new front page of Ravelry? (I’m just assuming everyone is on Ravelry, I think it’s a safe bet). It now recommends new patterns based on your viewing/fave-ing/knitting history and I’m kind of diggin’ it! I’m curious to know how others feel though so let’s hear about it.
 
 

Color Theory

Yesterday my poor Thundersnow bag came to a screeching halt when, nearing the end of the first side, I ran out of yarn and started a new ball.

                  “Ummmm…What’s up with this yarn? Not the same as the first ball, or the second ball either, it’s much thinner and more twisted and looks totally different!”

“Not to worry, I have gobs of the stuff I’ll just get another ball which is …also waaaaay thin and twisty and wrong!”

Turns out, not all of this yarn came from the same place. Now that I think about it I realize some of it was from a sweater I frogged last summer and some of it was brought home from one of Hubby’s work trips. The problem is, I don’t have enough of the bulkier yarn and the yarn I have enough of is too thin.

So what’s a girl to do at 5 am?    Hit the stash, of course

…and I came up with:

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Five skeins of Berroco “Weekend” a nice worsted weight cotton blend yarn that’s perfect for a bag.

What I can’t explain is why I purchased enough of this yarn for a sweater. I know I intended to use it for an adorable lacy shrug-like cardigan by Teva Durham but why? I mean, why this non-color, color?

Although this is a color I’m constantly drawn to, it isn’t a color that looks particularly good on me. I know. I’ve worn it before. In fact my penchant for dressing in pukey colors goes back so far I have a picture of myself wearing this exact color in the 7th grade! And, to be fair, it didn’t even look good on me then. No, in fact, it gives my complexion all the luster of a cold bowl of oatmeal.
So why is it in my stash? Why did I buy it? I don’t know. It’s possible that the cute Corgi that resides at the LYS cast a spell on me, or maybe I was dazzled by the flourescent lighting, I wasn’t feeling well? I forgot my glasses?
I don’t have an answer for you. I know that I have a tendency to pick colors that were part of my grandmother’s wardrobe in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Colors often named “Old Rose” or “Dusty Purple” which were most often featured in giant cabbage rose prints a la Laura Ashley. (Think Hyacinth Bucket from the BBC’s “Keeping up appearances” and you’ve got it)
I find when I’m purchasing yarn I often forget that it will be turned into something I will (presumably) wear and therefore should comply with any and all “rules”  I would use when purchasing ready-to-wear clothing. I am too easily seduced by fuzzy mohair that is too itchy and fascinating Fair Isle that’s inevitably too warm  and, as in this case, colors that really don’t suit me. I have tried to be more aware of these things in the last year or so. I try to remember what it is I’m creating and for what it will be used. I try to remember that I live in the mid west United States (not in the north pole), that I’m no longer a wispy  teenager (thank god) and  that sometimes I go out in public. I can’t say I don’t still make a mistake, as in this case, but I think I make them less often. I admire the hand dyed, crayola colored, self- striping merino but I don’t buy enough of it for a sweater. I pet the bulky alpaca lovingly and then leave it behind for someone else. The mohair…well, I have a lot of mohair, what can I say? I still have my weaknesses.
I might make Thundersnow out of this yarn and I might not. I haven’t decided yet. Instead I took a little break to whip up some (mostly) bright,mid-winter fun:Image
These are cheery, quick and used up stash scraps plus- color isn’t an issue!
Green bangle is random cotton yarn from stash (DK), Yellow is Lilly sugar ‘n cream, pink is hand-spun wool and grey is Malabrigo worsted.
Pattern is Crochet bangle by Dirtylush. Pattern can also be found here.
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Super fun!

Remember when…..

I said I had a bag obsession? Well, it doesn’t stop at the bags I make myself (which are plentiful BTW). Maybe it’s the Virgo in me, but I can’t help acquiring new ways of organizing my knitting. I have some help in this department in the form of a bag-chewing hound and a particularly good gift-giving Hubby.

This past week, as I sat right here at this computer and told you all about my obsession with crocheted bags and then went on about how great my current project is blah, blah, blah, my hound dog (Susie, for future reference) sat in the living room quietly chewing away on my recently acquired (via thrift store, mind you, for all of $3) knitting tool organizer. This was a simple cosmetic organizer with three clear compartments which held most of my knitting tools. I liked it. It was easy to find things in and it was convenient in that it rolled up and sat neatly in my knitting basket and it replaced the six or seven smaller zippy bags I had been using before.

I replaced this, dog-chewed, little gem over the weekend with a slightly larger cosmetic bag that really does hold all of my knitting tools (two sets of Addi-clicks, a set of Raku crochet hooks, tape measures, gauges, cable needles, extra long sock needles, highlighter tape, highlighter pens, stitch markers….a band aid….)

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I got it at Target for $12 and, if you need one of these, I advise you to get crackin’ Target is having some sort of spring cleaning or something and has put most of their cosmetic bags on clearance!

As for knitting projects I almost always have a little something going in one of these shoe bags.

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I used to sell shoes so I have a plethora of these lying around my house and, for the most part, they’re convenient for small projects like socks or scarves or mitts. The ones you want to avoid are the flannel ones as they tend to grab every piece of lint they come in contact with-and that’s a lot of lint if you’re a knitter.

I have a set of these snappy bags ( Namaste’s Oh Snap) which are really great for travel. The large one holds a pretty big project including magazine or printed pages if necessary and I can always see what’s going on in there plus, the snaps don’t grab your yarn so you can just sit it on your lap and knit right out of it.

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My current favorite knitting bag is this vintage-inspired delight by Cath Kidston.

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It’s made of a waxed canvas or oil-cloth fabric but it’s so shiny it almost looks like plastic. It’s bright and cheerful and has great floral Cath Kidston fabric lining with two small inside pockets and a big snap pocket on the outside and it just plain makes me happy! The only issue is the big zip which catches on yarn as it pulls out of the bag but.. well, you can’t have everything and one does have to make sacrifices for style on occasion.

All of these bags currently reside in a twiggy brown basket I’ve had forever which is nestled in between my sofa and the wall in my living room. Convenient, organized, and out of the hounds sight!

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Friday in February

Mother nature has kindly provided me with the perfect excuse to sit inside and knit on my cardi all day:

ImageMeanwhile my mind has been wandering, of late, to warmer things like Tincanknits’ Low tide cardi and Emma Fassio’s Danzando top. These both look like great layering pieces which means I’d be able to wear them year round-love that!

For now, however, I’m off to knit my cozy, wintery, just right for February cardigan and hopefully finish up my thundersnow bag over the weekend.

Stay warm and dry this weekend and happy knitting (or crocheting)