Monthly Archives: March 2015

Howdy, Stranger!

So, It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written here. I was on a roll with weekly posts, but just didn’t post the last three weeks. Sorry ’bout that.

So, what have I been doing for all that time?

Well, I made a doily.

 

And a pair of gloves.

Hubs Gloves

Cigar gloves – cigar = gloves. Yarn is Cascade 220 superwash.

 

And another doily.

Gigi Doily

Peacock Pride. Still needs a wash and a block, yet.

 

And not just one pair of socks…

Purple Raggi Socks

Toe up socks. Knit in Jarbo Garn Raggi Multi.

 

I also finished those car socks.

Car Socks

Toe up socks. Yarn is Lana Grossa Meilenweit Merino.

 

I made the Rose Medallion doily, mostly just for fun, but also for practice. I had no idea what I would do with it, but I thought it might be nice on my bedside table, if I could keep all the cat hair and dust off of it. While I was working on it, there was an ice storm and a friend of mine was in the hospital with a complicated pregnancy. The whole time I was working on it, I kept thinking of, worrying about and hoping for my friend and her family.

The doily felt very much like a prayer shawl. In the knitting and crocheting world, a prayer shawl is made while thinking and praying for the recipient.  There was so much love for my friend wrapped up in those stitches. When I finished, I couldn’t look at it and not think of them. It felt to me like the doily belonged to them, so I sent it off to its new home.

I made the gloves right as the weather was warming up for spring! What better way to get spring to come? I used the Cigar pattern from Knitty, but I just knitted all the fingers and thumb rather than leaving the thumb, first and middle fingers open. I have plans to make myself a pair, as well.

Contrary to what you might think, spring and summer are GREAT times to make gloves, mittens and socks. They are small projects that travel much easier than a huge blanket or sweater. Plus, when the cold weather gets here, you’re already ready for it, rather than scrambling for warm stuff!

Doily #2 is for Gigi. It’s a surprise for her birthday, so don’t tell her, ok? It’s called Peacock Pride by Patricia Kristofferson. It’s made in soft, buttery yellow crochet thread and was really fun! Crochet kinda wears me out, espeically at such a small gauge, but this was so much fun to work on, I couldn’t stop.

The main motif is called a pineapple, and my Mamaw loved to make patterns with pineapples. I recently got several of the tablecloths she had made and just about every one of them had a pineapple motif. I told my husband that this was my inheritance. 😀 There was lots of crochet thread and a few unfinished projects in there, too, but that’s a post for another day.

And then there are the socks. I have increased my hand-knit sock collection by 50% this winter! The Raggi socks are so fluffy and warm. They’re really great house socks, but since I have perpetually cold toes, I do wear them out of the house.

The Lana Grossa socks are so, so, so awesome. I put them on when I finished them and I wore them until bedtime and all the next day. The yarn is so dreamy soft and I love the striping pattern (although with my huge foot, it doesn’t quite work out as the dyers intended.)

All my socks are fraternal twins. I could make the effort to make sure I started both of them at the same spot in the color repeat, but I don’t really care. I like having socks that are slightly off (and it makes my OCD friends cringe! ha!) The only way I have the patience to make both socks match exactly is to knit them from a dyed sock blank.

I’ve already cast on the next pair of car socks. I’ve really loved having a knitting project in the car at all times. It’s amazing how much you can get done in short bursts. It’s not often that I’m a passenger in my car – we tend to be homebodies, but we do try to go out to eat once a week and any time we’re traveling, it’s nice to have a small, easy project to work on.

I am still doing commission knitting! It may not feel like Christmas to you, but I am already working on some commissioned gifts for Christmas 2015. I am also designing a family of Christmas stockings. If there’s something you want made, it’s certainly not too early to get started! Just contact me here or through my Etsy shop.

Have a great week!

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Kitchener Stitch and Other Dirty Words

So many times when talking to other knitters, I hear comments like, “I only do toe-up socks so I don’t have to do Kitchener stitch,” or “I hate Kitchener stitch, I can never do it right!” I’ve heard similar comments about color work, duplicate stitch, sewing up garments, short-rows, knitting in the round and even purling. If you’re a crafter who’s ever talked to another crafter, I’m sure you’ve heard (or even said) the same sorts of things.

It’s funny, and a little embarrassing to me now, how many really great patterns I have avoided knitting because they required some terribly scary technique. Sewing up seams is time-consuming, for sure, but isn’t it so worth it when you have a finished sweater you can wear?! Duplicate stitch is also time-consuming, since you’re sewing yarn over stitches you’ve already knit, but it can make a small patch of color work really pop. There’s steeking, which involves CUTTING your knitted fabric. Then there’s dreaded Kitchener stitch, also called grafting.

When I started knitting, I was in awe of gorgeous lace shawls. I was determined to make a pi shawl. I bought all the yarn and bought the needles and got started. And failed. And tried again and failed again. I couldn’t even get past the first three rounds before I just gave up. I tried the sheep shawl as a knit along with a group of people and failed miserably (nevermind about my pet rabbits deciding the wool was a tasty snack.) I decided it was too hard and I just wasn’t going able to knit beautiful lace.

The more I talked to other knitters, the more I kept hearing how hard Kitchener stitch was. I would hear that making sweaters in the round was the only way to go because there were no seams to sew up. Use self-striping yarn so you can have an evenly striped garment without all those dreaded ends to weave in. The trouble is, when you start ruling out projects you would love to make and wear simply because they have a technique you’re not good at, you limit yourself to the same types of projects over and over again.

I think this comes down to two issues. The first is process vs. project. I think this is a huge factor. Some people really enjoy the process of making things. Others really enjoy having a finished project.  Project people can become process people and vice versa, depending on what their goal is for a particular item, but I think most people tend to lean one way or the other. I think (and this is in no way based on fact) that process people enjoy learning new techniques more than project people. For me, I usually really enjoy the process of making something, especially if I’m learning a new technique.

Then there’s fear. Some are unwilling to do a different technique because they’re afraid it won’t work right. A woman in the knitting group I used to meet with made a wool sweater with gorgeous color work and a steeked front. It’s amazing and she wears it often. Would you believe it’s one of her first knitting projects? She had no idea that color work or steeking should have been scary, so she dove right in and went to work. Is it perfect? I don’t know. I’ve never gotten close enough to inspect the symmetry of each stitch, but I doubt it’s perfect. Here’s the thing, though: It. Doesn’t. Matter. It’s beautiful, she loves it and if there are mistakes, she’s the only one who knows about them. If anyone had told her how scary that project should have been, she might have never even started it.

All of these fearsome techniques are just that – they’re techniques. Some, like knitting lace in the round from the center, are very fiddly and take a lot of patience and starting over and over and over. Others, like Kitchener, really aren’t that difficult to do, it’s just that it’s probably not going to look very good the first dozen times you do it. It’s that 13th time, when everything clicks and you realize, “Hey! I finally got it right!!” It’s exhilarating!

Even just knitting can sometimes be tricky. When I picked up the needles after a long hiatus, I re-taught myself how to knit. Only, I taught myself wrong. For several years, every single knit stitch I made was twisted. When making the stitch, I was wrapping the yarn around the needle backwards. For some reason, I purled just fine, it was only the knit stitches. I discovered it when I took a class to learn to  make socks. When you’re knitting in the round, a mistake like that becomes really obvious. I finished those socks, though, and decided I’d learn to knit right on the next project. (They still work as socks, by the way.)

I still haven’t made that pi shawl, but I do so love lace knitting. I made a lovely lace stole that I wore at my wedding. And now I’ve discovered lots and lots of very pretty pi shawl patterns. (I want to knit them all!) So my delay is now more of an analysis paralysis issue rather than a fear-of-screwing-it-up issue.

Like so many things in life, knitting is simple to do, but mastery isn’t necessarily swift. It takes practice, determination, and a willingness to occasionally scrap it all and start over. Whether you’re a project or a process person, don’t let the fear of a new technique (or a few mistakes)  stop you from what you love.

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Lacy Summer Hats for Chelsea

You may remember the Christmas stockings I made for Chelsea last summer.

Well, my friend (and best customer so far!) makes cakes!

I asked her to make the cake for Jellybean’s 2nd birthday and what a cute cake she made! Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting smeared all over in a pull-apart cake. YUM! Go on over to the Cakes by Chelsea Facebook page and check out her other cakes. They’re so great.

11-aIMG_0600

(Our theme was dinosaurs. ROAR!)

We bartered for the cake and she wanted me to make a couple of hats for her. We settled on the Combination Summer Hat by Amanda Muscha. These are slouchy hats made with cotton yarn and a very open crochet pattern. The hat pattern has options for short, medium and long for the slouchiness factor, these are both medium slouchy.

Chelsea Summer Hat - Back - Carrot

Chelsea Summer Hat - Side - Carrot

They were really fun to make… so much fun that I ordered yarn to make one for me, too. (Mine will be green.)

Chelsea Summer Hat - Side - Seraphim

Chelsea Summer Hat - Back - Seraphim

I got to make some really fun hats and I got a great cake for my kiddo’s birthday party. This was definitely a win-win situation!

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