Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bind Off Two, Cast On One or New Adventures in Ribbing

One of my Knitting New Year's Resolutions was that I'd have to finish two WIPs before I could start a new one.  That's ME knitting, not gift knitting.  If that was the case, nobody would ever get anything.  Right now I have a hat and a baby sweater that just need finishing touches (buttons, ends woven in...) and I'm knitting a shawl for my grandmother and a birthday present. And probably more I'm forgetting about..but I digress.

I did finally finish 2 WIPS: My sister's sweater (that I started last August, so it totally counts) that I managed to get to her almost in time for her birthday in May:

And the Owlie Socks that were last Socktober's Knit-a-long finished June 1:

As a reward for finally finishing two long term projects, I've started Mermaid, by Janel Laidman from her "Enchanted Sole" book.  Sound familiar?  Yes, I realize I am slowly knitting my way through the entire book. What can I say? I love it. I've had the yarn and beads for these socks for probably nigh on 4 years now. It has long been time to knit!

Here is what Mermaid is supposed to look like:

Twisted Ribbed "fin" feet and a pretty beaded "fish scale"  lace pattern at the top. Here's what I have:

About 3 inches of ribbing for the foot.  The pattern is cuff down, but (no surprise to anybody who knows me) I'm doing them toe up. The pattern is easy enough to reverse.  Plus, I started with 171 grams, so I want to see how far up the leg I can get) and I worry I may need to do extra increases over my calves.  It'll just work better for me that way.  It's how I roll.  Or knit. Whatever.

But here's the point I have been wanting to make all along:  see how the ribbing suddenly changes about halfway through?  Yes, I know it's there.  I'm ok with it, and here's why.  I never liked doing twisted ribbing (where you k1 through the back loop, p1) because I always felt like it stretched out the space between the ktbl and the p stitches.  Even going down a needle size or 3 didn't help. I hate how it looks when I knit it, though it always looks so pretty in other people's knitting. The twisted rib is pretty integral to "mermaid fin" look of this sock. So I started experimenting as I went along. I tried alternating between plain rib and twisted rib.  Nope.  I tried doing a twisted purl stitch instead. Nope. Finally, right at that line where the ribbing changes, I figured it out.  I twisted BOTH the knit and purl stitches. See how finally the stitches are closer together and not loose and, well, exactly how they are supposed to be?  That was the trick that worked for me.  The downside is that it takes FOREVER to do (which is the main reason I decided not to rip back the first inch or so. These socks are for me. Who's going to see it?)  That last inch of Really Twisted Ribbing (or so I've dubbed it) has taken me hours and hours.  I think the foot of the sock is going to take me longer than the lacy leg.  But I'm ok with it (for now. Ask me in another 3 inches.) because I've finally figured out what works for me, and that feels really good.

I'm still trying to finish up my next batch of WIPs in between gift knitting, hexapuffs and my Really Twisted Knitting. I already know the next project I want to cast on, if only I can bind off on a couple things first!

May you always get gauge,


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Don't You Just Love It When...

The designer sends an update to the pattern you're in the middle of?

ESPECIALLY if the update improves the pattern?  And REALLY ESPECIALLY if it's too late to go back and incorporate the changes because you have a deadline?  And it's laceweight?  And you're already on the second repeat of the lace pattern?

Oh well.  Next time. If there ever is one...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Knitting New Years Resolutions

Last January I posted this about my 2013 knitting goals.  I wanted to:
1. Knit more sock yarn from my stash
2. Keep my stash under 30,000
3. Card and spin my alpaca fleece
4. Knit a hexipuff a day
5. Finish up some UFO's

So, how'd I do?  Well, one out of 5 ain't bad:

654 hexipuffs! I knit my goal of 364 in 2013.  I got a bit behind with the holiday knitting, but I caught back up on my 5 day Christmas weekend.  Now it's habit, I'm going to keep it up.  It's possible I might even finish my BeeKeeper's Quilt this year, depending on how many more I need. I guestimated 1000, but basically I'm going to knit it until it's the size of the white comforter underneath.  However many that is!

And I didn't do too bad on my other goals, either. I barely touched my fleece but I did knit from my sock yarn stash. I didn't buy ANY sock yarn for myself in the past year.  I don't need to as I still have plenty to keep myself knitting socks for the next couple of years.  And I barely bought any yarn for myself, either. Almost everything I bought was stuff I needed for projects for craft shows or for other people, mostly my nieces.  Or I dyed the yarn myself.  And it really wasn't that much, either. My stash is over 30,000, I'm sure, but I'm not really keeping track anymore. It's still (mostly) contained. I'm trying to work my way through my Ravelry queue, which is all projects I already have the yarn for, and only buy yarn when I need it for something I want to make for someone else (since 90% of my stash is for ME ME ME.)  I've pretty much weeded out all the yucky yarn out of my stash. I will look again, but at my first perusal, I couldn't find a single thing to donate to our knitting group's annual yarn swap.  I'm kind of proud of that. I don't buy stuff I regret later.

I have made progress on some UFO's, but not anything substantial. I'm going to try to work on that again year.  But, since I really didn't do that great in 2013, I'm going to try to keep thing simpler this year.  So, my 2014 Knitting Resolutions are:

1. A hexipuff a day! 
2.  Bind off 2, cast on 1. 

The second is a new thing I'm going to try. I'm not allowed to cast on a project until I've finished 2 first. Maybe this will help with the UFO's.  I know it's pushing me to finish some things I have on the needles now because I have a serious case of castitis and really want to start a new project.  Like the Thinking of Spring Mittens I have the yarn for, but haven't been able to start yet.  They have robins on the hands.  Robins! I must knit these! But seeing as how NONE of my knitting Christmas presents are done yet and I'm having a sweater slog...

I'm going to extend BO2CO1 to spinning, too. I can't buy more fiber until I've spun 2 skeins.  Hopefully, it'll help me start to tackle my beautiful alpaca fleece. 

What are YOUR knitting resolutions this year?  And how did you do in 2013?

Monday, August 12, 2013

It's BACK!

Back in 2009, KnitPicks released this sweater kit they called "Lusekofte".

 I was SO in love and wanted the pattern, but they only sold it as a kit. I couldn't afford it at the time and by the time I had the money to buy it, it had all sold out. I emailed KnitPicks about buying just the pattern or if they'd re-release it since it did so well and got back a generic "who knows?" sort of email.  Every once in a while I'd think about it and check back and it was still gone. I was really sad.

Until today. Today I found out they have re-released it under a new name: Lofoten.  AND they are selling the kit OR the pattern! The pattern is in black or brown with options to choose your own colours.
I immediately bought the pattern, but I want to do it in the original blue colours, so I need to research what they are...and wait until I have 1) money and 2) room in my yarn bin for this kit.  I dug out a skein of sock yarn this morning and had to do that cartoony "sit on the suitcase to get it to close" thing to get the lid back on. Which is a bit confounding as I've barely bought any yarn in ages! Maybe it's breeding in there? Actually, it's the 10 skeins of Malabrigo Chunky in Butter that is taking up so much room, but I have some birthday/Christmas presents to complete before I can get to that. Maybe the yarn for this sweater will be my New Years "You Survived Your Christmas Knitting" annual present to myself. 

But, back to the point: HOORAY!! This gorgeous and admittedly very reasonably priced sweater is BACK! I WILL be knitting it one day and I'm so glad KnitPicks came to their senses and offered the pattern for download.  Isn't it fun?  Anyone want to plan a 2014 Lofoten KAL with me?

May your steeks never unravel,


Sunday, August 4, 2013

I made a Wee Faerie! And it Sparked Some Thoughts About the Toy Industry in the US.

I'm supposed to be preparing for the craft show next Saturday (Second Saturday at the Foundry. Come on out! It's really neat!), working on some gifts and stuff for the Etsy shop (hey, did I mention it's Free Shipping Month?  Enter Coupon Code August2013 for free US shipping and reduced international shipping rates!) but yesterday I was overtaken with the compulsion to knit this:

A little faerie!  The pattern is from Susan B. Anderson's Flora & Fairies that was in a holiday Knit Simple magazine a coworker gave me as a Christmas gift in 2011.  While normally knitting books or magazines with the word "simple" in them do not appeal to me (I want a bit more of a challenge), this one actually has several patterns in it that I have already made including little mitten and sweater ornaments and a holiday garland with little birds on it that I put up in my living room every year and hang my Christmas cards from it.  And this pattern was in it, too.

If you are not familiar with Susan B. Anderson, let me introduce you.  You can thank me later.  She is a designer for children and makes the cutest toys and clothing for kids you have ever seen. She may be my absolute favourite designer for toys.  I own her must have book "Itty Bitty Toys" and have knit about half the book so far with plans to knit pretty much every pattern in it.  I often check her blog and the many (free!) patterns she has designed for the Spud & Chloe blog.

But back to my faerie.  It's a simple, tiny pattern that took me about a day to make and used bits of sock yarn I had in my stash (most of it hand dyed by me. Her skirt/wing yarn was hand dyed by someone else.) Her little i-cord arms and legs took no time at all and I knit them directly onto her body by just picking up 3 stitches where I wanted them to go and starting my i-cord instead of making them separate and stitching them on. I love to save piecing together at the end.

The thing that took the longest was the hair. You have to tie each strand on around her scalp, which takes time, but then, because I wanted her hair to be curly, I went back and separated each strand into 2 pieces with a crochet hook. I adore how it turned out. Her pigtails are VERY Sera and I feel like she has so much personality. Too bad she's too young for this toy and it's going to sit around for a couple years until she's old enough not to eat the hair.  Sometimes you just have to give into the little voice in your head saying "KNIT THIS!" even when it's not sensible.

The fairies in the pattern are all white with blonde hair (well, the ones that have hair and not little flower hats.)  I really want to make toys that look like my niece.  So it was important to me to make an African American looking faerie.  Even as a small blonde haired blue eyed (BHBE) child, I noticed that most dolls and toys were BHBE like me and that any doll that wasn't blonde was relegated to the sidelines. Barbie's non-blonde friends (do you remember any of their names? Because I don't!), She Ra's one African American looking friend who only shows up in occasional story lines, Rainbow Brite's one non-white friend (wasn't she Indigo?)  I understood the idea that toy makers were throwing at me at a very young age: that Barbie's other friends weren't as pretty or important because they weren't blonde.  And that didn't make me feel good about being lucky enough to be born BHBE. It made me feel a bit guilty and ashamed.  My favourite Barbie growing up was Island Barbie, because she had the beautiful long black hair and golden brown skin of the Chamorro women I grew up around. I hardly every played with my blonde Barbie.  She wasn't as pretty in my mind.

So, it's important to me that my nieces have toys that aren't just BHBE.  I want my niece Sera to have toys that look like her, but that also look like the people around her. And so that's why I have plans to make a blonde "me" faerie and an Asian looking " Mommy" faerie.  I won't just do this for Sera, I want Katie (who is a blonde baby with hazel eyes like her mommy) to have dolls and toys that reflect the wonderful variety of people around her.  I don't want her to ever feel guilty for being blonde,  just as I never want Sera to feel bad because she isn't. We can't change how we are born. But we can change the idea that BHBE is the "best" way to be by teaching our daughters that everyone is beautiful and that differences should be celebrated.  Who knew knitting a simple toy could have so much power and potential?

May you always get gauge,