Thursday, September 14, 2006

Courtney's first day of preschool

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The Joy of Swatching

Well, I found a new creative endeavor this week - swatching. I was reading Knitting Lessons and the author talks about swatching ... just swatching for the hell of it. Now, pointless knitting doesn't really do it for me, so I dug out a pattern book for a sampler afghan that is knit out of 30 blocks. I figure that if I don't ever put it together, each square is it's own project ... I can call them blankets for my daughters' dolls or stuffed animals and they'll be as happy as if I made an entire blanket for myself. I'm using some turquoise Red Heart yarn - I have a corresponding variegated, but I might go with a solid hot pink to match my room colors instead - cables and lace don't do well in variegated yarns in my experience.

Speed Stix

Ok, despite my love of Knit Lite needles and my need to buy as many as I can get coupons for, yesterday I had to run out sans kids to buy a pair of Speed Stix - size 50 needles. My friend Laura considers Knit Lites to be "monetarily irresponsible," but I have a real need for a way to knit without lighting up the room - kids that are 2 & 4 who insist on sleeping on my bedroom floor. I can only imagine what Laura would say about my size 50 needles. I thought size 35's would be big enough, but I found a pattern that would use up 8 skeins of leftover Homespun from my Waterfall Throw stash with the Speed Stix and only 34 stitches across! If your wrists can handle it, this ought to be a pretty simple and quick knit. Manipulating these huge needles does cause your wrists to hurt, so I've pretty much turned to haphazard english style knitting, which I normally reserve for 2 color fairisle work, because it's slightly easier. But how sore would I be using smaller needles to get this amount of fabric ? I bet much more so, along with having wasted countless hours instead of a couple. I was slightly disappointed when I read that the pattern actually called for 8 skeins instead of 4, but I knew it had been too good to be true. I know it took 10 hours to crochet a waterfall afghan out of 6 skeins - I should have timed myself to see if it was quicker with this knitting pattern.

Today is my Sunday, and it's raining out, so I'll probably stay home and get some knitting accomplished. I've been re-reading the good parts of "Knitting Under the Influence" which is an outstanding book if you have a chance to pick it up! While Jo is at preschool I'm hoping to get a few more rows of the speedy afghan knit, then I'm going to start knitting dishcloths for my stash reduction project. I don't like the way my Hallowig is coming out - I tried using Miami ribbon yarn, but it's not creating the right effect, so I'm going to steal the Pounder of lime green yarn I bought my daughter over the summer and make it out of that instead. That Red Heart Kids yarn is $3.79 a skein! I know I had that skein of pink around here, but I'm not sure if I trashed it (my kids have been tangling the house with yarn they find*) or if I just have to look around some more.

*maybe it's time to get rid of the kids?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Knit Hair

Well, I'm happy to announce that I was accepted into the Hallowig Knit Along, hosted by Claudia! The Hallowig pattern is available on I tried to knit this project back when it was first published but got bored with the ribbing. This KAL is giving me an opportunity to use up some stash yarn and not dent my budget in the least. And, this is something that actually interests me to make & wear - YES, I do plan to wear it! I figure that it'll keep the hair out of my eyes when I'm driving like a crazy woman with my windows open and my stereo blaring! Maybe I should make a yellow or black one to wear in the car, though - a green or pink one might draw some unwanted attention. :)

In other knitting news, I started a crocheted wrap last night with some stash Wool-Ease Sport Weight yarn in Autumn, I got the pattern from the Lion Brand website and happened to have the right yarn in my stash. Only a couple problems so far - one being that I somehow ended off a few stitches in my first row, and didn't work into the right loops on the first half of the 2nd row. It's going to take forever, but it's a mind numbing project and that's what I need some days.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Knitting Lessons

Well, I happened across a 70% off book store last night and picked up a couple books for myself - "Knitting Lessons" and "Chicks with Sticks." I spent my break and lunch reading Knitting Lessons. I love reading other people's stories about their knitting - how they learned, what their reasons are, how they feel about buying supplies and starting and finishing projects. It gives me a great sense of relief that I am not the only one with a problem finishing things, or the only one who has a dozen projects started at any time, or that I can't stop buying more yarn, even though I've literally run out of space to store it. Reading about other people's endeavors inspires me to get out my stash and create new things. Right now I'm wishing I could just get out my wool yarns and create swatches in all different stitch patterns. Or that I could whip up sweaters for each family member that they would, by some miracle, actually wear. I found a pattern in a mail order catalog I received in the mail for a shawl that was made with 8 different colors of lace weight yarn, blended in 4 strand combinations to give a gradual color change effect. It sounds like a project right up my alley, and I wish I could order it, but let's face facts - I have a bunch of projects already going, with countless projects worth of yarn in my stash! I could start an expensive, intricate fairisle sweater at the drop of a hat and without spending another dime! If only I could build up the desire to finish the one I've got 3/4 done!

The book made me think a little about my beginnings in knitting and my philosophies so far. I started knitting after teaching myself to crochet. I was going thru a phase where I'd been working solo overnight shifts for months and was going a little mad. I had very little work to do - I was a computer operator, but Y2K took our non-stop mainframe processing down to a limited Windows environment where I only had to run an occassional billing cycle or more commonly back up our data bases... it was an interesting night if I forgot to take the write-protect lock off a tape and had to run the backup all over again after it errored out the first time. So, when I got sick of reading romance novels and downloading songs off Napster (in it's heyday) and instant messaging all of my friends, I decided I wanted to do something with my hands that didn't involve a computer for a change. I got some yellow and slate blue yarn and decided to try to crochet .... hmm, was it supposed to be a place mat or a table runner... I can't seem to remember. I just stitched the stiffest piece of acrylic you can imagine... Oh, now I remember - it was supposed to be a blanket! It just felt like a place mat it was so stiff! This was the project that taught me that different crochet heights also meant a different potential width and most importantly a different fabric weight! Let's just say that treble crochets after a lot of single crochet caused somewhat of a ruffly fabric to appear. I decided that what I really wanted to do was knit. Something about holding needles in both hands and accomplishing something really drew me. There's a mystery to people who don't knit - the needles seem so complicated to work, the fingers work so nimbly as you wrap and slide and poke. Something about it drew me to learn to knit. I bought a set of needles and a how to book, sat on my bed for a couple hours trying to cast on my first stitch. Frustration mounting, I turned to the internet where I searched (This was before I'd even heard of "Google") and found some knitting sites where they described, pictured and demonstrated how to knit. I figured it out, and then I just wanted to keep going and going. My first projects of memory were knit balls made with short rows, followed by a knit beret where I realized that I was knitting into the back of stitches instead of purling them. By this point I'd started accumulating odd balls of yarn at the clearance sales at the local craft stores, who were having one heck of a re-set in the yarn department that year, in retrospect. I was fascinated by all the different yarns and textures and colors, picking up a ball of this, two skeins of that, figuring that each could become something - a hat, a scarf, etc. That started my yarn addiction. I discovered the internet outlets for bargain yarns, and started buying enough for many projects at once, driven by the $1 sales and $35 minimum and "flat rate" shipping. Meanwhile, I wasn't really accomplishing much. I had changed jobs and found that knitting required so much attention that it relieved my tension headaches, which have plagued me since my teenage years, but which flare in times of stress. Crochet was too simple, but knitting required focus, and the relief I felt almost immediately from my headaches drove me to knit almost every night after work. Then I decided to crochet 16 afghans for christmas gifts for everyone on my list. After spending $396 on yarn, and being criticized by everyone in my house for the purchase, I ended up getting pregnant and was stricken with morning-noon-and-night sickness for the first 4 months of pregnancy, where I couldn't sit still long enough to work on the simple projects that would only take 8-10 hours to complete if I could just sit and work on them. I finished 7 of them, the rest of the yarn sitting in my stash trying to become other things over the years. After my daughter was born, I splurged on sock yarn from HeartstringsFiberarts, one of my favorite sites at the time. They arrived the day I went back to work from Maternity leave. It took me 9 months to finish that pair of Lorna's Laces Sassy Stripe socks, and they're too small! But I think that marked my real transition from crochet to almost always knitting. The small needles fascinated me, and after spending so much on the yarn and needles, I started to indulge in more expensive materials all around.

I wish I had local friends to get together and knit with, but I just don't have that opportunity anymore. I did have a group I met with occassionally, but haven't in a couple years now. Life's hectic, my husband left, I have my 2 girls, my full time job, and a mind that won't stop turning it over and over again.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Seasons Change

I finished knitting Banff and have gotten the sleeves sewn into the armholes, tried it on over my nightgown and feel like I'm going to suffocate in it. I wish I was a seamstress and could figure out how to neatly insert more material into the underarm to hem on either side. I'm not in a huge rush to get it seamed the rest of the way at the moment. But I am working on a few other projects and now that my work life seems to be going back to normal, hopefully I'll be able to get more projects done. Theresa is doing a family sock knitting project, were people are knitting socks for all their special family members and friends. I think I need something like this as a goal to keep me going. And I have 2 huge boxes of sock yarn, too. I have a pair for my mom nearly done, I can use the stretch boot yarn to make my dad a pair, make the girls each a pair from some stripy yarn. Maybe get some more muted colorway for Aunt Mary Jo, possibly the Watercolor Lorna's Laces for Kathy. I'm making myself a scarf out of some pink & purple Parade yarn from Knitpicks. I'm doing just 30 sts wide, garter stitch, and using size 8 needles. I started out with 60 stitches, realized I would have a potholder instead of a scarf if I kept going that wide, so after a few inches I k2tog all the way across to create a ruffled edge. I'm not sure how long the scarf will be, and it probably won't be all that cozy, although I'm sure that it will soften after being washed. But it's using up yarn, and sometimes that's the goal. I'm more than 1/2 done with my Easter Memories socks which will be for myself, mainly because it's made of real wool and no one else would have the patience to hand wash them.