Podcasts

I’ve recently been introduced to knitting podcasts. I never knew there were people out there that took an hour of their time and talked about knitting. I have an i-pod and decided to download some of these. The first few I chose were mostly disappointing. The Knitpicks episode I listened to was informative but slow. I had to stop listening if only for the fact that they were talking about weaving and I cannot afford another hobby. Yes, I was feeling that itch of I want a loom!!! The angel on my shoulder said, “No Tracy, you have enough crafty hobbies. You don’t have time or money for another.” Then the devil on my other shoulder said, “Hehe, I want one. Credit cards are proof God loves you.” Then my boss came in, the i-pod went off and a stack of work was pushed my way.

A second podcast was quite disappointing. The girls were advanced knitters who were complaining about all the people who post patterns on Ravelry using different terms. Then they continued complaining more, interjecting apologies every once in a while in case they offend anyone. I may be biased, but isn’t it a good thing that people can learn and share on this vast resource known as the internet?

A third podcast was filled with talk of expensive yarns that even the devil on that shoulder just shook her head and said no. Sigh.

Finally, I found two thanks to good advice from new knitting/spinning buddy. Stitch It is from the same person with the website The Art of Megan. I learned to spin on my first spindle from her. Of course, she doesn’t know this. I liked listening to her talk about her garden and her house. The second was the The Knit Wits. They were hilarious! They are a married couple who moved to Oregon. I love how they communicate and the fact that the husband interjects his opinion with the crafty, knitting, spinning wife. I relate to both of these two more than the others I’ve listened to so far. I look forward to downloading lots more episodes.

Wanderlust

So, less than a week out of the summer classes (accounting for all of you who don’t know me) I am already in daydreamy wanderlust mode. I’ve moved from New York, to South Carolina to Florida in the last five years. I’ve currently lived in the same place for the three years, the longest since I left my childhood home. My mother and her boyfriend used to travel a lot when I was a child and I was used to sleeping in a different hotel each night. The wish to keep moving hasn’t left me. I’ve been relatively happy in Florida, yet three days ago this idea flourished within me and it is has bloomed within me. Where is this place I am lusting after????

Portland, Oregon

Yes, the girl from the east coast has fallen into love. Does this have anything to do with Sock Summit taking place there last weekend? Maybe? The three main reasons I have fallen in love with this city in the last few days are 1- most microbreweries in any city in the country 2- fiber friendly area 3- nature. Yes, my husband and I would probably go broke in beer and knit shops (especially if occuring in that order) but I think I would love this city. It is a liberals dream land. Yet I am stuck in school and three years away from being vested for a government pension as long as it does not mysteriously disappear.  I’m  just in love lust with Portland, Oregon

Fall Issue

What usually is joyous is now just plain sad. That’s right. The Fall issue of Interweave Knits came to me, on an August day, in Southwest Florida. In 92 degree weather, I got to look at Autumn sweater patterns, along with mittens, thick socks and a particular cute wool skirt. To add to my blues, the theme seemed to be double knitting. Why have one layer of knitting when you can have two. This is all well and good if you live up north, lets say Vermont, or Oregon, or Orlando. Down here is the subtropics, I sweat looking at the double knitting. I’ll have to stick to lacy shawls, purses and blankets. Sigh.

Knitting and Yoga

Bella in cat pose

Knitting and Yoga go naturally together. Both have meditative qualities. There are a couple of things that I reach out to when I am ultra stressed. Knitting is the normal every day stress reliever. Then of course, there is tea. I have tea to wake me up and tea to calm me down. There is the glass of wine or a really good beer. But there are times, almost phases, when I reach out to yoga. I am not a guru or even the least bit good at it. I am a dabbler. I like yoga when the mood fits. I like certain poses but am still not fit enough to keep up with the dvds. This is something I want to work on and then life gets in the way.

I stumbled upon a pose the other night when I couldn’t sleep due to neurotic worrying over school, money, work, life and the nature of good and evil. http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2767

This is a modification of  Matsyasana (Fish Pose). If you work in an office, use a computer often enough, spend hours studying or are hunched over knitting needles you may have pain in your neck and shoulders. I do all of these.  In From the Neck Down, by Roger Cole, it states “But when pain and tingling spread beyond the hands and wrists to the arms, shoulders, or neck, the cause may be another, less commonly known condition—thoracic outlet syndrome. TOS is caused by compressing or overstretching nerves or blood vessels far from the hands, near the top of the rib cage. It can develop from repetitive stress and unhealthy movement patterns, like playing a musical instrument for long hours or typing with your head pushed forward and out of alignment with the rest of your spine, or from an injury such as whiplash.”

Think of your knitting. Does this sound familiar? I did it with just the one block and I felt the release (spasms) immediately. In the days afterward, the result was not so obvious but I believe that over time, this will benefit me. I also am trying to straighten my posture. I try.

2011-02 Baby Headband with Pom-Pom

This is really just a larger version of the other baby headband that I posted with a pom-pom on top instead of flowers. This is worked with Caron Simply Soft Acrylic Yarn on size 5 needles.

Gauge: 5 stitches = 1 inch 12 rows = 1 inch

Cast on 10 stitches

Row 1: Knit

Row 2: Purl

Row 3: K1 P8 K1

Row 4: P1 K8 P1
Continue this pattern for about 12 inches (Newborn) 13 inches (0-6 months) 14 inches (6-12 months) 15 inches for (12-18 months), and 16 inches (18-24 months). Bind off. Seam together.

Take 2 different colors yarn and create a pom pom.
Pom Pom instructions:
Cut two circles from cardboard. Hold together. Wrap yarn around (inside and outside of ring). Then cut inbetween the two pieces of cardboard. Tie around center, securing the small pieces of yarn together. Attach to headband.

Entrelac

I usually wouldn’t advise anyone to take on more than one project at a time. In my experience, neither project winds up being finished and both are frogged or left in the pile of things to rip out years later. However, I’ve decided to keep a traveling project – a pair of to-be-felted slippers and a home project – the entrelac baby blanket. One is easy and the other will take this side of forever to complete. I accept this with open arms.

I decided to learn entrelac around 12 am of last Sunday night/Monday morning after finding myself wide awake. It had nothing to do with the double cappuccino drink I had at six that evening, I swear. It was just a fluke. First I searched Intralac and nothing came up. I did another search and stumbled upon a page that had the technique spelled just as wrong as I did. I kept looking around and finally snuck into my bedroom to pull out some yarn and needles without waking up the husband. Eventually I gave up in hopes of sleeping, which was fitful at best.

The next day I woke up, studied a bit, ignored the messy house that is calling for me to clean it and focused on what was really important – learning entrelac! With the assistance of the entire internet, I believe I have it down. If you’ve seen Eunny Jang on youtube then you’ve tried this to. I love her, but she really needs to slow down. I was looking for Entrelac for dummies tutorial. The about.com version was good for starting but didn’t help me in learning the side triangles. The most comprehensive website that I found was wolf and turtle.net. Please see link below. I’ve been doing some of the increases and decreases a little differently but this website gives the greatest understanding of what is involved in Entrelac. Basically you are knitting squares in two different directions and it gives this great texture but is also annoying because you only knit one block at a time going back and forth and back and forth until you want to scream. It’s a likeable torture!

http://wolfandturtle.net/Dye/index.php/Yarnpath/comments/all_aboard_the_entrelac_express/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcLxMt9GehM

http://knitting.about.com/od/knittingskills/ss/entrelac-base.htm

Isobel Skirt, Socks, Slippers and Spinning Wheel Bag

While I have not been updating my blog nearly enough, I do assure you that I have been busy. In the last few weeks, while juggling school, housework, intense summer classes and the usual drama, I have been knitting and spinning in the few and far between spare moments.

1- Finished the Isobel skirt. While this is not as pretty as I hoped, it is comfortable and a bit bigger than I would like. I sewed in elastic around the waistband so it would stay up and cinched it in by putting the buttons further from the edge than the directions called for. The good news is, if I gain another thirty pounds, this baby will still fit. I may try again with wool later on.

2- I knit this pair of small socks for Grandma with a worsted weight sock yarn that is no longer sold. I believe it was made by Paton a few years ago and discontinued. These are tight on my enormous feet but knit up in a few days. I used the toe up technique used in Socks from the Toe Up: Essential Techniques and Patterns from Wendy Knits. This is a great tool that should be in every sock knitters’ library.

3- As I mentioned before, I had asked my grandmother what she wanted for Christmas with the stipulation that I was handmaking her gift as usual. She said, “Those slippers that you made me before, you know, before. . .” One day my mother decided to teach me to crochet. I could not sit still or even pretend to listen to her. She went away for the weekend and when she returned, I had created slippers. The funny part was my mother’s dumbfounded reaction. “But you didn’t even listen to me.” Have I mentioned that my mother is the type that needs specific instructions to do anything and I’m more of the color outside of the lines- I’ll figure it out on my own type. Ha- sorry Mom! Basically, I made slippers for everyone I knew over the next few months and soon forgot how to do it. This is my attempt at making them years and years and years later. They aren’t the prettiest things but they are done.

 4- Finally, the spinning wheel bag. I was tempted to make this a pattern, but it is too simple. Basically, I cast on 51 stitches of Caron Simply Soft. I then alternated between the knit stitch and knit 1 purl 1 rows. I used about 10 rows of purple, then 14 rows of pinks, and ten more rows of purple. Once finished, I folded the panel in half, right sides together, and sewed both sides. I flipped it out so the finished side was outward and used regular string to attach it to my spinning wheel. Now I can leave my oil and other knick knacks where they won’t be lost.

Isobel Skirt almost finished

My Isobel skirt is sitting not so far away, outside in the sun being “blocked.” I’ve never been big on blocking and don’t quite see the point in it, but my skirt is a little too wide for me. I’m hoping that by stretching it, it will look better. Blocking, afterall, is highly recommended. Maybe they are seeing something I’m not. I will post a picture of what it looks like after it dries and I get a true fit.

Memorial Day Thoughts

It’s the last Monday in May. For most of us, that means an extra day off from work, maybe a barbecue with friends or a day at the beach. We’re supposed to think about those who fought for our freedom on this day. I hear on the radio, on tv and even via the internet how we’re supposed to honor those who fight. The truth is that I cannot possibly understand. I am lucky because I don’t have a spouse or a parent or a child fighting in another country and never have. I’ve never woken up in the middle of the night wondering if a loved one was hurt or worse. I don’t know how I would handle that, especially since I’m a natural worrier. I’d probably give myself an ulcer. Sometimes I feel like I should apologize for not having the intimate understanding.

This is Memorial day, a day to reflect on our nation and those who support it. So, thank you all those who have fought, members of the military, and the families of those members. Thank you from someone who has not shared that experience and hopes not to. Now, I’m off to the beach!

Best Knitting Blogs

I was surfing the net, trying to get an idea about what to write about and found a list already created of the 50 Best Knitting Blogs. Now, I know everyone who reads this would be stunned to find out that Knitwerks was no where on the list. I’m sure I’ll get at least a dozen comments on this. Interweave knits puts out this list and I recognized a few. I fully expect that everyone will continue to read my blog (please) but here are 50 others you may want to take a peak at in between updates.
http://www.onlineclasses.net/best-knitting-blogs

Craigslist, not just for elicit activities

Llama

I have decided to become more creative in finding fibers to spin. While I may not have a lot of time to devote to my crafts, I still want to work on learning more. One way to do this is to post an ad on Craigslist (without personal information!!!!) asking for fiber. My post in the free category, requesting Wool/Alpaca/Misc Fibers to Spin has already gotten many responses despite the fact that I live in Southern Florida where sheep don’t thrive. So far I’ve received an offer for Llama fibers. I did some research and found that it is very similar to alpaca. There are not the same natural oils as in Sheep’s wool, which makes it cleaner to spin but not necessarily easier. I haven’t tried it yet so I will have to let you know. I also received an offer for trade. I would provide spinning lessons for Alpaca fibers. This I am especially excited about. It will be nice to work with someone although in the interest of full disclosure I did let her know that I was still inexperienced. Craigslist is a great way to get in touch with people from your area for supplies and lessons. However, remember to be careful in who you give your information to. I just wish I lived somewhere colder where there were more sources of fibers!

Another Day, Another Project

Along with working full time, going to school and juggling the ever present drama of my life, I am working on my newest project. I’m currently over half way through with the Isobel Skirt found in the Winter 2010 edition of Interweave Knits. I know, isn’t it odd that I’m working on a winter skirt during Florida’s spring, otherwise known as the Summer part I. Instead of using the Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend as recommended in the pattern, I decided to try it out with Berrocco Comfort, which is a Nylon/Acrylic blend. I had this around for another project that was never started. The problem with making clothing is that different materials lay differently. There is a proper term for this, but I cannot remember it for the life of me. I think this pattern would work better with natural fibers than with man-made nylon/acrylic yarns.  The other recommendation would be to avoid increasing next to the knit rows. It only throws off the lines in the pattern slightly, but my eyes are drawn to those small deviations.

I love this skirt and I have to have it, even with my imperfections. As of right now, it remains a mini-skirt but I’m working along fast enough. The seven hours I spent on the airplane helped.  This is a great simple pattern that will be fun to wear and show off, even in Florida’s summer weather, I hope.

What if?

Do you ever play the what if I won the lottery game at home? My husband and I like to play this (probably a little too often.) There are the obvious choices of buying a nice house, getting new (and working???) cars, going on vacation, etc. I had always thought that I’d want to go get my Master’s in creative writing. I always thought I’d wind up writing and am still surprised that I wound up in the accounting field. Lately, I think I’d like to study folk arts. Knitting, spinning and other crafts interest me. Unfortunately, money is still a factor so I will have to be satisfied with just having hobbies but I’d truly love to study the crafts of cultures around the world. These were and still are more than the hobbies that keep them busy but instead kept them clothed and warm.
Oh and if we won the lottery, I want a huge RV and to travel the country while knitting, spinning, and doing what ever makes me happy!

Flying

I’m running around getting ready to fly to NY on short notice thanks to a death in the family. I’m in the middle of knitting a skirt, which unfortunately thanks my not so tiny waist is a big project. I find some lacy yarn and decide that my backup project will be a lacy shawl/scarf. I need something that I can hide in my purse.

Now it’s time to get my bag ready. No scissors, the TSA doesn’t like those. How many knitting needles are too many to take on a carry on? I am to bring my knitpicks stash but what if they say I can’t bring it on the plane. Better to lose one or two needles than my whole set. I have to go through the stitch holders and make sure nothing looks dangerous.

Now I’m also worrying that the pattern I picked out for the scarf/shawl is too complicated. I don’t think I’ll be able to pull off knitting during the wake, but I want to be able to bring it out at other times. What if my flight is delayed twelve hours like the last time I flew home from NY? I know, I am overreacting. Is this knitting a hobby or an addiction? I am getting anxious trying to decide what I’m bringing.

I’ll figure it out somehow and will write more later.