Sweater Wear

For most of you in the Northern areas of the country, sweater season has arrived in full force. My family and friends in New York are repeatedly getting walloped by the unrelenting weather. Even here in Southwestern Florida, I am getting the sweater itch. By itch, I mean the want to knit not the want to wear itchy old-fashioned sweaters your grandmother used to give you for your birthday.

I am probably the last person who should give advice on knitting sweaters. I have made a total of one bolero and one shirt. My lovely shirt came out wide and short and I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing it. When they say that gauge is important, GAUGE is Important. Think of spending your hard-earned money on this wonderful skeins of yarns, putting hours and hours of time into it and then standing in the mirror horror-struck (and in tears like me.) But don’t let that stop you. We all learn in different ways and the only way we get better is from learning from our mistakes.

I flip through patterns constantly and my latest favorite is Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard. The author also writes a blog http://www.knitandtonic.net/ 

I love her book because it doesn’t just give you patterns, but explains the way sweaters are knit, how they look, the way they are designed and how you can create what looks best on you. I want to try everything immediately. I highly recommend any knitter who is interested in making sweaters, shells, or any other clothing item to read this book! It can only help in later projects.

Sunday Afternoon

It’s Sunday afternoon and after a busy week, I’m sitting on my couch with a sleeping cat curled up beside me. I have two chapters to read and outline as well as a group project to e-mail my group members about. I have phone calls to make, laundry to check on, vacuuming to be done and dinner to make. The week has flown by in a mass of to do’s. I have spent over a week working on a sock which I’m finally at the heel. I love the yarn but I’m using size 1 needles doing two rounds at a time in periods of five to fifteen minutes that I can find through out the day. If only I could knit while on the treadmill or elliptical but I have a feeling that experiment would end in a trip to the emergency room and a messy stab wound. I like sharp knitting needles. I spend dinner time talking to the hubby while flipping through knitting books and magazines that are conveniently layed out on the table. Life is busy, even on a Sunday afternoon but knitting is an addiction that can fit into even the busiest of schedules.

Sticks and Socks

Misti Alpaca Socks

 

Most knitters have at least tried to knit socks but many of us have a love of creating those unique pair of toasty warm socks. It is a bit crazy, considering that you can buy a three pack in Wal-Mart for a few bucks but many of us will go out and spend ten to twenty dollars on yarn and a week or longer of our blood, sweat and tears. Blood because of the small sharp pointy needles, sweat due to trying to follow intricate patterns while using small sharp pointy needles and tears when one of those needles fall out and you lose your place in the pattern.

There are several ways to knit socks.

1- Toe up. This is what I’m working on. It is easier because you can try it on as you knit and don’t have to worry about running out of yarn.

2- Double pointed needles. Take 4-5, five to seven inch long needles and spread the stitches out between them. Work in the round and try very hard not to allow the needle to fall out.

3- Two circular needles. The stitches are split between the working points of two circular needles.

4- Magic Loop. This uses one circular needle that is at least 40 inches in length. The stitches are split between the cable and the working needle point. One side is worked, moved and the next side is worked.

5- Two socks on two circular needles. I haven’t figured out how to do this, but there are many books and websites willing to explain further. Someday I will conquer this too.

6- Cuff down. This is the classic method that most patterns refer to. You work on dpns, knitting from the cuff down to the toe.

Niddy Noddy

Homemade Niddy Noddy

 

For anyone who begins spinning, you will soon realize that you need more tools than just a spinning wheel. Once you have spun your initial wool into yarn, most will then ply it with another length of yarn to create a stronger and better looking yarn. After that you will want to create a hank by winding your yarn onto a niddy noddy. These can be made of wood or pvc and are found online in many spinning/knitting related stores. I decided to make my own out of hardward store pvc and this is how I did it. 

Things you’ll need. 

4 – 4 1/2 inch piece of 1/2 inch pvc 

1- 12 inch piece of 1/2 inch pvc 

2- 1/2 inch pvc tee connectors 

4- 1/2 inch pvc end caps 

optional- pvc cement 

Either request that your pvc is cut into these pieces at the hardware store or cut them at home using an ordinary hand held saw. 

Fit 12 inch piece of pvc with tee connectors at either end. Use cement to hold in place (I found that my niddy noddy stayed together pretty well without it.) 

Place end caps on all four ends. 

Wind skein around niddy noddy and be happy! 

Niddy Noddy Pieces Uncut

 

Cutting the pvc
Attach the tee connectors

 

Spinning in the New Year

Kromski Sonata Spinning Wheel

My mother gave me a Kromski Sonata spinning wheel for Christmas and it has been keeping me happily busy. After managing to put it together, then reading through the instructions, oiling everything up and then finding my stash of wool I had bought at the Fiber In two years ago, I began my new adventure of spinnning.

Things you should know about spinning wheels and spinning:

1- you have to oil it. My spinning wheel came with oil but I noticed online that people recommend using non additive motor oil as the cheap method. I also read online that the piece of leather on the flyer should be oiled every 15-30 minutes of use.

2- There is pencil roving available that is easier on newbies. It is predrafted so that you only have to draft minimally while becoming comfortable with spinning.

3- You will overtwist the yarn. The best way to slow down the twist while learning is to slow down the treadling. I want to immediately treadle like crazy because it’s what I’ve seen experienced spinners do. Slow down.

4- It is incredibly addicting and relaxing it. I’m enjoying my new spinning wheel and playing with yarn. I’ve already made a ball of yarn out of it and knit a pair of socks.

New Year Resolutions 2011

January 1st is a day of celebration, reflection and reconsideration. Most people tend to create resolutions that are unrealistic or unobtainable such as quitting smoking, losing weight, or saving more. Those resolutions are generally forgotten by January 3rd.

This New Years, I’m creating a few realistic resolutions for myself. These are the craft related ones which I will share.

1. Learn how to spin. I received a beautiful Kromski Sonata spinning wheel from my mother for Christmas and am having a blast learning how to spin on it.

2. Knit a pair of socks. My favorite wool socks went through the dryer and sadly no longer fit. I need a replacement pair made yesterday.

3. Learn more lace patterns. I have a tendency to avoid these patterns because I have trouble following the intricate instructions.

I have many more things that I want done in the year to come, but I think these three are my top yarn related goals to reach. Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2011!