Tuesday, January 31, 2006

On an Otherwise Dreary Day; Knitting Olympics

The Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock looks so promising against the dull and drab day.

I just got these skeins (in the Watercolor colorway) from Angelika's Yarn Store. If you have never ordered from her, you're missing out on the wonderful customer service that Angelika provides. I ordered from her on Saturday and received my package yesterday. Mind you, she's in Oregon and I'm in New York. She also sends samples and inserts and a free pattern. I also ordered size 2 40" Addi circulars so I can go from size 1 to 2 as I'm figuring out my gauge.

Leslie from The Silver Fork Saga graciously offered to be my training partner for the Knitting Olympics. We're both planning to conquer the magic loop to make some socks. I can't decide if I want to use my Lorna's Laces or the On-Line Supersocke. I think I better use the Supersocke rather than risk ruin to my first skeins of Lorna's Laces.

Friday, January 27, 2006

And When She Was Bad

I had a really hard time keeping my money in my wallet these past few days. It all began with this dream that I would teach myself the magic loop method to make socks, and so I had to go out and buy the 40" circulars. And then I had to get the magazine because I liked the sweater on the cover and thought it would be a good alternative to the Knit.1 sweater.

My biggest mistake was the dress I bought for way too much money. And, of course, instead of buying myself something to wrap around my shoulders, I had this dream that I would knit up a lace stole, and so I just had to buy the Whisper yarn. I don't believe I'll be able to finish a lace stole by 3 o'clock tomorrow, but I think I might try.

Monday, January 23, 2006

So I Really Want to Knit This Sweater

A gray and drizzly, depressing day. The radiators, surprisingly, are on and it's snug and warm and it makes me miss my boyfriend, terribly, who is out today.

Did anyone happen to see the cowl-neck sweater in the last issue of Knit.1? It's on pages 58 and 59. I love the way that it looks and the cowl and collar.

The pattern in the back of the magazine is terribly askew. Here's a page with the
corrections. I was a little surprised to learn that the sweater isn't in two, but three pieces! To wear the sweater, we are told to put on the sweater, then the collar, then the cowl. I guess this is okay because I don't know how comfortable I would be with all that collar around my neck and like the option of removing the collar. I was disappointed that there wasn't a photo showing the sweater without the collar and cowl. I have reservations about making the sweater because it's all made using knit stitch, except for the collar, which is ribbed. So I fear that I might get bored.

I found that Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted substitutes well for the Lion Brand Jiffy that the pattern calls for. Jiffy is supposed to look and feel like mohair, but I hardly understand how that's possible after I saw and felt it.

If anyone has any experience with this sweater I'd love to hear your comments and suggestions and see photos if available. I'm ordering a bunch of Lamb's Pride worsted in Aran soon.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Knitting on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Did anyone see Jimmy Kimmel last night? He had this guest on that brought in all these items from the 50s or something like that. Among these items were a rather interestingly shaped toothpick dispenser, "cock flavor" soup, a "family disguise kit" containing fake facial hair and eyeglasses, and a knitting pattern.

The knitting pattern showed Ken (Barbie's Ken) standing next to a weight-lifting set. The entire weight-lifting set was knitted! The barbells, the barbell poles, and the bench. Ken was even wearing a special weight-lifting outfit. There were even weights of different sizes so that Ken could change them as he pleased. What's more, someone actually knitted this thing! The guest placed this knitted contraption on Jimmy Kimmel's desk and I was awestruck! I could imagine some poor intern who was told, Okay, now we need this made by today's show, and Jimmy Kimmel just picked up the contraption and tossed it off-stage.

I wish I could find pictures of this pattern to post here. It was one of the funniest things I had ever seen.

Friday, January 20, 2006

To Finish or Not to Finish?

Last night I received a parcel from Canada. Want to take a guess as to what was in it? One hint: it wasn't prescription drugs. I placed this order a few months ago, but the parcel got lost in the mail and the sender had to resend. Here's what I got:

two skeins of Noro Transitions in colorway 7, one ball of Supersocke in color 765, and a set of size 2 double points. I ordered the Noro to finish a scarf I began making. I saw someone knitting a scarf with this yarn and loved the angora part of the yarn. Little did I know that I could have just worked with Noro Kocheran if I loved the angora so much. Here's the scarf, on a stitch holder, waiting for me to finish it:

I'm just not sure now how badly I want this scarf. So far, it's taken one skein, and I wonder if I should just frog it and use the three skeins for another project. I mean, this isn't by any means a cheap yarn and I somehow feel that I wouldn't wear this scarf very much. If anyone can recommend a good pattern for this yarn, I'd appreciate it.

I'm hoping to make a pair of ribbed-top socks with the Supersocke. I'm not expecting that I'll be able to knit up beautiful socks with this yarn. Even experienced sock-knitters have trouble making this yarn (which is both self-striping and self-patterning) look like this. But it seems to much fun just to try.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Sock Continuing; My First Addies

Last night, instead of working on my syllabus and reading for my exams, I indulged in one of my favorite guilty pleasures: knitting while watching reality tv. The second Basic Stockinette sock is in the works.

Today, I had to go to the library to return a way over-due book and check out some others, and well, the yarn store is so close and I didn't really need any yarn but I thought I would just drop in to see if there was anything new or anything I could send my sister, to whom I just taught knitting. I didn't see anything that I really needed, although I wanted lots of things. I really shouldn't have, but I picked up these:

I'm so excited. My very first Addi needles! I've noticed that seasoned knitters always use these for their projects and I feel as if my stitches are regular enough now and my commitment to knitting serious enough that I can take the supposed swiftness of these needles and their high price.

I've been making swatches for a sweater that I'm dying to make. It will be my first sweater. I'll be swatching with these needles tonight. But, alas, I've made a bargain with myself: I must must must do some work on my syllabus and poetry manuscripts before I can knit.

P.S. I had to teach my blogging dictionary new words: "swatches," "stockinette," "Addi" and (gasp) "knitters."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Not-Too-Snug Basic Cable Hat

When I wanted to finally learn how to make cables, I thought that the "Basic Cable Hat" in S&B Nation would be a good project. I had already made several hats in the round, so I felt comfortable with the pattern. For the first cable hat, I followed the pattern exactly, using Lamb's Pride Worsted. The hat was really, really small. It barely fit on my head. I did some research on-line and found that I was not alone. Many knitters were left with too-snug cable hats.

I wanted to make this hat for my father, so I had to vary the pattern. I added 12 more stitches (so as to not disturb the design) and cabled one more time than what the pattern called for. This variation fits a man's head nicely. This is also made using Lamb's Pride Worsted.

If I were making this hat for myself, I would still increase by 12 stitches but not do the extra cable. I don't have a picture of the snug hat because that was sent to a little boy in a third-world country.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Booga Bags

When I first started knitting, I happened upon a website of "Booga Bags." The pattern, designed by Julie Anderson, call be found here. I immediately wanted to make this bag and hunted down three skeins of Noro Kureyon in colorway 95. The bag was really my first project after a few scarves and a rug (since ruined by a squirrel). I didn't quite know yet how to pick up stitches or "knit twisted stitches," but somehow made the bag. Luckily, Julie Anderson now includes a little Google search at the bottom of the pattern to help one find help or instructions on-line.

This project was a great introduction to felting for me and to Noro yarn. I learned that Noro yarn has a lot of knots in it and that sometimes you need to start a new ball to maintain your colorway. Sometimes, you have to start in the middle of the new ball to pick up a certain color and not disrupt your color way. Sometimes, no matter have many balls you have, you can't maintain your colorway at all because the skein either doesn't contain the color or the yarn knots into a new color variation just where you would need that certain color! But, alas, the stripes are beautiful, even when they aren't as gradual as you would like.

Here is my first Booga Bag:

I've since made another one in the same colorway that looks much better, but I haven't felted it yet and I put it in a bag in my closet and have not been able to find it. I was going to give it to my older sister as a birthday present today, but it looks as if I'll have to wait until Christmas or another birthday.

Here's a Booga Bag that I made for my little sister last year:

This bag used Reynold's Lopi, which is a good yarn for felting. It felts up nice and thick, so much so that this bag really stands up on its own. The lime green, however, is Lamb's Pride Bulky. I also striped the i-cord and bottom in all four colors.

The Reynold's Lopi and Lamb's Pride bag only needed to go into the wash once! I had to felt the Noro bag a few times and still wasn't satisfied. So I did it by hand in really hot water and used a nice scented bubble bath. The bag felted up beautifully and smelt really nice for months.

Boyfriend Scarf

When I first started knitting, I thought I would make my boyfriend a nice scarf. Not only are beginning knitters attracted to making scarves, but they also seem to think that everyone wants one of their scarves, which are often made incorrectly (a few funny stitches, strange finishing that leaves strands hanging out here and there, odd choice of yarn, apparent new-ball joins, and in my case, a incorrect knit stitch accomplished by throwing the yarn over my working needle from right to left instead of left to right) and entirely in knit stitch, not that there's anything wrong with knit stitch. I made my boyfriend a scarf using some gorgeous bulky merino (I thought it was gorgeous) that was spotted with lots of color on size 17 needles.

What I didn't know then is that boyfriends are very particular about scarves, which is why they don't really want to wear them. They want something that is all one color and hardly noticeable. They don't like bulky yarns because bulky yarns mean large and apparent stitches that call attention to themselves.

Here is my new and improved "boyfriend scarf":

I saw a skein of Cascade Eco Wool in a nice charcoal color. The yarn appealed to me not only for the look and feel, but also the price: about 480 yards for about $15, depending on where you buy it. The skein was more than enough for the scarf, and I have a nice-sized ball left over.

I knew my boyfriend liked the look of stockinette stitch, but that's not a good stitch for scarves, which is something I didn't know when I first began knitting. Things that I had to find out on my own: stockinette stitch scarves not only curl, they also have strange bumps all along the edges.

My solution was to make the scarf in 2X2 ribbing (looks like stockinette to boyfriend) and slip the first stitch of each row purlwise. I've discovered that ribbed scarves fit and feel better when the yarn is worked with larger needles than you would normally use for a particular yarn. I used size 10 needles for this scarf. My one regret is that I didn't bind off in pattern. The last time I tried that, I failed and caused the scarf to fan out at one end. Next time I'll find better instructions and follow them to a T.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The First Sock

I've always wanted to knit socks. I read on another blog that sock knitters are envied, and they are. After pining away for the necessary skills, I decided, like all my knitting adventures, to try to acquire these skills on my own. I forced my boyfriend to buy me Betsy McCarthy's Knit Socks. I say "forced" because he would much rather buy me Russian literature or books that would, during these long nights of winter, allow us to discuss things literary, but no. It's the second Christmas in a row that I've asked for a knitting book. I thought this book would be a friendly one to begin with since the yarns used vary from worsted to sock yarn and the needles from size 6 to 1. I must say that even when I was beginning to knit, I didn't really enjoy large needles and bulky yarns. I loved the way stockinette stitches looked on size 6 needles, and I loved the feel of skinny needles in my hands.

I wanted to make the "Starter Stockinette" socks, with which the book begins. The pattern calls for Cascade 220 Quatro and size 3 needles. Nothing too intimidating. So I searched the web for the prettiest Quatro colors around and happened upon Angelika's Yarn Store. I bought two skeins of Raspberry Cream and one skein of Green Tea for the heels and toes.

I love the promise of untouched skeins, and although I have thought about buying a swift and ball-winder, there is something lovely about winding balls of yarn by hand.

Making my first sock was easier that I thought it would be, but it required more perfection than I would normally expend on a project. I think it was good for me. I learned that I was (I'm so embarrassed) knitting in the round incorrectly. I was knitting with the working needles away from me instead of close to me and with the fabric wrong-side-out instead of right-side-out. Many knitting books teach you how to join, but not how your project should look as you're knitting it in the round. I learned that correctly knitting in the round decreased ladders. I also learned how to avoid any worry about ladders and how to pick up stitches. Here is my first sock (unblocked):

I didn't follow the pattern perfectly because after all, I wanted these socks to fit me. I worked the sock foot until it measured 7" and not the 8 1/4" that the pattern called for. My advice to first-time sock knitters is to use post-its to write any alterations to the pattern because you may not remember exactly what you altered or how and since you want your socks to match, you might as well take the extra time and make notes.

Knitting socks for the first time will force you to learn the Kitchener Stitch. You might want to practice this before you close up your socks, but if you're like me, you're too excited to finish your first sock and dive right in. I think my toes look a little square-ish and not roundish because I did something a little funky during the Kitchner Stitch.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Why I Wanted a Knitting Blog

Not only is life often lonely, but knitting reassures, to me anyhow, that a knitting life, which is oftentimes a lonely one, is incredibly lonely. If I am anything in my loneliness, I am a maker. If I am not writing, then it's knitting that calls me. The knitting life and the writing life can both be quite lonely. I knew that I should somehow try to bring these two lives together. I also knew that knitting blogs had helped to bring me to other knitting lives, some lonely, some not.

I love seeing what it is that others make, out of what they make these things and how, in the end, after the making-fact, they feel in relation to their made-objects. I imagine that they too, as I do, must feel a sense of awe. And the aweness, the astonishment seems to say, share. So I will share with others things that I have made and how it is that I made them.

What you should know about me: I am self-taught. I am afraid of other knitters. I am afraid of yarn stores for the fear that others will find me out. I fear that I do not knit the way it ought to be done, which is why I am hesitant to knit in public (but can't help but stare when I see others who do). (I stare in a way that says longing, longing for someone with whom to share my love of yarn and needles and knitting.) Everything that I know about knitting comes from what I have read about knitting--and so, to return the favor to those countless unknowns, I will write.