Sunday, May 27, 2007

Great yarn sale

I found a fabulous book at the library called Knitting in No Time by Melody Griffiths. Most of the patterns look easy to follow, and are for practical things like bags, shawls, ponchos. There are also some creative uses of knitting with -ahemmm-- jute for a market string bag and ripped up fabrics. I got a lot of ideas, and realized that I would have to buy some more yarn before starting any projects.

Most of my stash consists of single skeins that I purchases for dog sweater/accessory projects. Well, I found out about a site called Little Knits that seems to be having a fantastic sale on Noro, etc. Payday is coming up and I am going for it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sock news

Well, TL wore his Breathe, Relax socks for all three days of his End-of-Grade (EOG) testing. They held up well, even with being washed 3 days in a row. I'll have to closely examine the toes because he wore them with sandals yesterday. Apparently the socks are "hot and sweaty" on the playground in sneakers. I won't be surprised to find holes in the toes, the playground is mostly hard-packed dirt and he goes full tilt during recess.

He did say that he felt very good about the tests and that the socks did help him remember not to get stressed. Mission Accomplished!

I know Sari thinks I should make a bunch and sell them, but I don't think I have the energy right now. Plus, it would mean really doing the same thing twice, and I doubt I have it in me. Maybe in a different set of yarns would be OK to do.

Gifts for the Graduate

My standard gift for high school graduates is a set of towels. This year Lisa suggested I add a shower puff, and I thought--I could make something. The With One Skein book has an entire bath set, but it is so boring looking...

Second best advice before going to college from my mom: "You have to have a couple of nice sets of towels. You don't want to be embarrassed in the shower room." (She went to an expensive, Catholic women's college and I went to a cheap-ass in-state school known as #2 party school in US) but she was right!

Best advice from mom: "Don't join a sorority."

I need to give a present to a childhood friend's daughter who is going to Arizona State. If she is anything like her mom, she will spend time partying. Knitty came through with the perfect gift (besides the towels)--washcloths that say party or study....she won't get 7 but 2 will give her the idea.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Help with Circular Knitting on DPNs

Well, Sari, I had some time this afternoon (which I took off to clean the house, but I got bored) and so I looked for some free online videos to help you out with the knitting on double pointed needles (dpns).

I am including links to 3 sites I think you'll find helpful.
Knitting has several how-to videos on their site, but in Advance techniques, there is a section called "Small Diameter Circular Knitting" which includes help on knitting on dpns. I think the video looks pretty good, but it's the only one I looked at on the site.

Knitter's Review offers
Knitting Tips: Getting Started with DPNs in Four Easy Steps which is not a video, but a step by step description of what to do. It is pretty clear, and I think it could be helpful.

Another step-by-step description of how to use dpns is on Stitch Diva Studio's
Knit Tutorial - Double Pointed Needles. This tutorial includes photos.

One thing I learned from scanning several sites for easier-to-follow instructions is that some knitter recommend rotating the stitches around so that the same column of stitches is not always at the beginning of a needle. This is supposed to make your knitting have a more even gauge, decreasing the possibility of "laddering" between needles. I've never done that, but I don't think you can tell from looking at any of the socks I've made where the needle changes are. I can't tell on WK's either; Do you rotate your knitting, WK?

I think that the simple answer to what you're doing is that you're forgetting to use the newly emptied needle as the working needle, and are continuing to use the original needle after knitting the stitches on the original needle. Does that make sense? I know I had to read several descriptions of how to do this style of knitting, as well as look at that free online helpful videos. To find these things to pass along to you, I Googled this: "double pointed needle video" and this "double pointed needle help." As is usual with Google, some things just weren't helpful.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Blogger needs help

Ok, for some reason I can't figure out how to delete my last stupid post. I don't know how it got entered twice anyway.

I figured out what was wrong with mobile uploads--Blogger doesn't support uploads from US Celluar.
This means it will be awhile before I upload any pictures because.......
1. Must take picture with digital camera #3 (mine) instead of megapixel phone camera.
2. Must pull memory card from camera and load pictures on to our server OR attach stupid cord to laptop to retrieve pictures from camera.
3. Must save picture in a place I can find it again.
4. Must load to Blogger.

1. Take picture with camera phone.
2. Upload picture to Flickr.
3. Edit Flickr picture, rights, etc.
4. Duplicate picture on blog.

Hmm, maybe that's why all my new pictures are on Facebook? I snap, click and it's there. Gee technology makes everything better, right?

I ordered a bonanza of lace knitting stuff from Knitpicks this morning. Baby Alpaca is $5 a hank versus $30 at the local store. I also ordered some nice bulky wool for--you guessed it--dog sweaters! I want to make a cute little hoodie in black & gold before fall.

I am also desperate for some help with double point needles. So far I think they are evil. No matter what I do all the yarn ends up on one needle. Magic loop seemed promising, but I think that between knitting "English" style AND my general lack of coordination it just might be too much. Socks may never happen either. I WANT to learn this technique so I can make some felted small bowls for my spanking new office. I think everyone needs a felted bowl for paperclips--right? When I get out the double points I am reminded of my sewing machine lessons. I cheated my way through a mandatory 6 week home ec class in junior high, and both my grandmothers and 2 aunts tried to teach me to use a sewing machine. All of them gave up. It requires some sort of coordination and use of mechanical skills that I just don't have the right combination of....and I can't blame my math disability I'm afraid.

I need help

Ok, I became lost in the maze of blogger help. I know there should be a way to upload pictures from my mobile phone automatically, but I can't figure it out. Am I stupid? Or is the help just bad? It is so easy to do with Flickr and Facebook. GOOGLE get with the program.
Jay-do you know how?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Update on Weekend Activities

It's all WK's fault!!

I caved in and bought a little needle felting kit over the weekend. I decided that picking up a kit would be the easiest way to learn quickly and decide if I want to do any more. Our local Hancock Fabrics is going out of business, so when I had to pick up some notions for a baby gift I'm sewing (not knitting) I stopped in to see what they had left. VERY dangerous. I noticed the purse kit and remembered WK's post on the craft and now I have another craft to try out.

Related to this is the very nice yarn TL noticed a nice wool boucle yarn by Lion Brand (#
930-206). I thought it was nice, but wasn't going to get any, even though it's 60% off, since I didn't have a project. Then I noticed the name of the color and bought all 5 of the balls they had left. I'll think of something! I did also get TL a set of kids knitting needles and a nice ball of grey wool. He said he knew I was obligated to teach him to knit, and he was now willing to learn.

I worked on the sweater and have almost the whole back done, it only needs about 10 more rows. I also started the sleeves during knitting class so I could learn the right way to Make One. I also spent a lot of time working on BBBB#3, and it looks like I just might get it done before Sunday (baby shower day). That is, if I don't "waste" all of my time cleaning and making food for the party. It is now about 2/3 done, so it's possible.

I also planted some nice flowers in the large pots for my deck. I was going to move mulch, but it rained too much.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Copying WK - 34

WK has posted about her LibraryThing page, so I decided to blatantly copy her. I started my page on March 1, 2007 (no, I don't just remember, it tells me when I'm logged in), but I haven't gotten nearly as far as she has in getting all of my craft and/or textile related books on there. My LibraryThing only has 34 books in it, but I know that I have more. In fact, if I glance to the right, they are sitting on a shelf, staring at me. I must not have knit enough today, I'm starting to get stressed about not getting them all added yet. It's a hobby, I can do it as time allows ... must keep remembering that.

BBBB #3 -- continued

I'm about an inch past the 1/2-way point in the pattern and about 1/2-way through the 4th of 7 balls of yarn which I purchased for this project. If my math is right, this means I'm right on track to have enough yarn to finish the blanket! You can double-check me if you like: I bought 7 balls and I have 3 1/2 left and I'm slightly more than 1/2-way done. Sounds good to me!

I wanted to take another photo so show my progress, but the pattern change just doesn't show up well yet. I think it will by the time I'm done with this ball of yarn. I added the latest ball sometime on Friday while Hazel was resting and worked on it during rest periods from house cleaning. The i-L(s) moved here over the weekend. This might not normally cause frantic housecleaning, but they decided to stop by our house for dinner on the way to their new one, bringing some of their oldest friends with them. At least I found out before Sunday morning. To be honest, I didn't do all that much frantic housecleaning, although I should have. With TL ill and not feeling well myself, I put HUGE blinders on and so avoided seeing too much of the dust and grime.

OK, the point was that I am making some progress on two projects. Sorry for the mini-rant.

My First Sweater

So, I'm now working on my first sweater in my first knitting class. The name of the pattern? "My First Raglan" by Lisa Knits (SW-024) I can't stand the coincidence in all these firsts. I'm hoping that none if it is a hint toward the future where these are all also "Lasts!" To be honest, the pattern I'm using is only based on the Lisa Knits one, as my teacher and I decided not to do the increases after the ribbing, eliminating the "puffy" look at the waist. I hope that the waist looks more like the adult version in the photo from the pattern on Lisa Knits website.

The sweater is for TL, but I'm attempting to make it large enough for him to wear next cool season, but not so big as it will overwhelm him even then. He loves the color!

Pattern: My First Raglan, Lisa Knits #SW-024
Yarn: Filtes King Australian Merino (product of Italy) 100% Merino Virgin Wool
It's supposed to be shrink resistant according to the label. Color #1021
Needles: US size 5 for ribbing, US 6 for the rest.
Began: May 3, 2007 at around 8 pm
(please note the Finished time in my last post)

Finished: TBD

Alterations: My teacher says I'm a "tight" knitter, so we went up a needle size to get the right gauge in the body of the sweater. We also went with TL's measurements (taken from an appropriate shirt). My teacher plugged everything into Sweater Wizard and printed out customized patterns for each of us in class. This way we don't have to negotiate the different size options in the original pattern. She also figured out the CO based on the yarn I chose, so I'm fairly certain that that is also a change. Since I don't actually have the original, I can't be certain, however.

Between Thursday and Friday, I knitted the first 50g (153 yd) ball and I have about 9 inches of the back done. The back is 17 inches wide. When the back is 14 inches long, I start the decreases to make a place to attach the sleeves.

I have decided at that point that I had to knit another ball onto a different project.

Breathe and Relax --Done!

Pattern: Relax and Breathe from Knit Socks! by Betsy McCarthy
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Encore D.K. in 4 colors (217-black, 1383-orange, 3335-green, 517-blue)
75% Acrylic, 25% wool

Needles: US size 2 (2.75 mm)
Began: April 20, 2007;
Finished: May 3, 2007 at around 6 pm

Hoo! I am finished with the Breathe, Relax socks and they have been happily tried on, modeled, and approved of by TL. He didn't want to try them on until I got the ends worked in, but I guess that's alright. As you can probably tell, his actual feet fit into the actual socks (whew!) and he seems to enjoy them.

If you look closely, you can see that the heels and the turning of the heels are two different colors. Getting tired one evening, I did try to convince TL that both of these areas could be either the same color as the body of the sock (highest hope) or at least be the same color as one another. But there was no negotiating, I should have known not to show him the photo in the book. Lesson learned! You can probably also make out most of the words, I didn't want to post more than two photos of the same socks, just to prove that I spelled both words correctly on each sock. You'll have to trust me.

The banding was kind of fun to do, but I was worried that I would increase the tension too much and make it pucker, but that didn't happen. I did knit Continental style and English style at the same time on those areas in order to even out the tension when changing color, and to be more efficient. I did end up regularly making the stitches face the wrong way from the yarn in the left hand, but it got a lot better with practice and not knitting late at night. I simply turned those stitches the right way as I went along the next row, so it wasn't disastrous.

Cables, weekend

Well, not the kind you're expecting. I have forgotten where I put the cables to connect my phone to the computer. This means that the great shots of the Breathe, Relax socks being modeled are stuck in there until I can get my brain to work. Hopefully, I'll remember today and post the photos tonight.

I did not contribute to the blog over the weekend because TL was sick with two things at once (pink eye and upper respiratory infection), and so my energy was elsewhere. I'll write up some notes on the TL sweater and post it later today. I did have to make a run to the bookstore because TL finished the novel he was reading and was desperate for the next book in the series. While there something WK mentioned forced me to look at the magazines, a section I studiously avoid in bookstores in order to protect my wallet. So, for the first time ever, ta da, I flipped through and purchased a knitting magazine! I actually got two. I picked up Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits. I think I may ask my knitting teacher if she thinks I can handle one of the cardigan projects for myself, and the other has entrelac instructions and directions for entrelac socks. Who could resist? Also, there are some cute baby projects in there.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Breathe and Relax??

I stayed up to midnight last night and finished the knitting on the Breathe, Relax socks for TL. I still need to sew in the ends and have him try them on, but I think I can guarantee that I'll have them ready for him to wear at the end of grade tests that start on the 21st of this month. Do you know the little rotter had the nerve to ask me if I thought they'd be done in time on Tuesday?

The reason I stayed up getting them done was not pressure from TL, however. I had to get them to at least their current state before I could let myself cast on the sweater I'm making. Since class is in the morning (yikes!) and I'm supposed to at least get a couple of inches knit before then, I was pushing myself. It seems as though I may be staying up late tonight and getting up early even though I don't need to be anywhere until class starts at 9:30.

I'll take a photo of the socks on a willing model tonight and try to post about them tomorrow after class. I suppose I should have time to breathe and relax sometime after the baby blanket is finished. I'm 1/2 -way there and it's deadline isn't until May 20!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

I need to learn to make socks

I need to learn to make socks. I don't even really like to wear them, but when there are cool free patterns like this queen of cups one I need to learn--soon.

Harry Potter Knitting

I am starting to LOVE Facebook. I know I will love it more when I have more time to edit it. I found out about Harry Potter knitting today. I'm not sure if I will do it or not, but I do know a few rabid HP fans.

Yarn for Baby Projects

Quite a while ago, WK asked me to post something on what types of yarn are good/recommended/better for projects for babies. I imagine that since I keep talking about the baby projects I've been working on this winter and spring, I may have given the impression that I know something about this. I didn't, I had a vague idea; now I've done some research and verified what my impression was. Whew, I was on the right track.

So I checked around the web, Googling various terms that seemed likely. Most of the results I found were for sales sites that have what is commonly called baby yarns in their inventory. That's fine, but not what I wanted. On Yahoo Answers, someone asked "Is Baby Yarn Really Necessary?" and received some interesting answers, not all of which I particularly agree with. However, most of the answers were fairly common-sense issues that are in the main repeated below.

I did find an excellent discussion in one of Knitty's featured articles, Babes in the Wools: Practical Tips on Knitting for Babies by Melissa Walters. Winter issue 03. She describes for the knitting non-parent what to think about when choosing yarns and accessories for a baby project, which happen to coincide with what I've been doing. Her main points of consideration that I find important include:

  • Washability - Babies can be messy (top and bottom) use yarns that are easy for parents to clean. These include many man-made fibers and blends, but also include some very nice washable wools.
    • I would add that the knitter also be concerned that the item is not easily felted. At some point, someone other than Mom or Dad will throw your gift into the washer and dryer.
  • Safety - Consider the pattern of the garment and little fingers and toes, will they snag? You may want to avoid the laciest of patterns so that little fingers and toes don't get caught in the pattern.
    • Using buttons? make sure to attach them securely. MW gives excellent advice and instructions on attaching buttons for baby items in this article. Remember, after 4 months or so, the infant will be putting things in their mouth and yanking on loose bits like buttons.
  • Sizing - Babies grow fast, plan ahead and try for easy on and off.
    • If you are not sure if the garment you are considering will be easy for a new parent to negotiate with a wriggly little one, seriously consider making a blanket or hat. Alternatively, you could discuss your concerns with someone who is more recently (or just more) experienced in wriggly babies.
    • It's easy to pick out some cute sweater or outfit and then get bogged down in life until after the baby has out-grown the size you started. There's no good way to avoid this unless you have some way of avoiding the everyday complications of life. Or start the moment you hear there's a baby on the way and hope you've given yourself enough time.
    • The baby could show up early! I have been trying to get my baby gifts done in time to give them as shower presents, but even this is not always enough. I learned how to make a baby hat in about 4 hours, which means I should be able to whip one up quickly if I have to, and then go back to the planned-on baby item. Bibs work well for this last-minute need, too.
Her other main points are:
  • Color Selection
    • I know you both already know this, but I'm saying it anyhow. There are more than two colors for babies. Pink and/or Blue are only options. I like to try to find out what the nursery is going to look like and coordinate with that, but sometimes I just pick out cool yarn and hope the new parents like it.
  • Alternatives to Sweaters
  • Knitting for a Baby Who has Parents that Knit

I would add to MWs list:

  • Might the baby have allergies?
    • One of the respondents (crochetwithdee) to the question on Yahoo Answer brought up the very good point that babies have very sensitive skin and may have allergies to wool. Some organizations that accept donations of handmade baby articles only accept things made in acrylic or cotton.
    • You will probably want to make sure that the parents aren't allergic or have sensitivity to whatever you are knitting with, too.
  • Comfort and softness for baby and parents.
    • Everyone likes to feel soft, cozy things around them, right?
  • Weight of garment, babies feel hot, too.
    • If you are knitting a sweater for a newborn who is expected in July or August, make sure it can be worn in the cooler months or is light weight.
Make sure to give the label from the yarn (with care instructions) with your gift. This might be good advice for any handmade gift, not just baby knits.