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.

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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.

Foot Fetish

So I’ve been on a foot related knitting spree lately. For Christmas, I made my Grandmother a pair of slippers, followed by a pair of socks for myself and now I finished a pair of socks for my husband just in time for his birthday, which is today. They’ll be ready for him when he finally gets home. These are made out of a yarn my friend bought me when she visited Sweden and are soft and comfortable. I’d love to tell you what they are made of but the label is not in English. These socks took forever with my tiny size 1 knitting needles but they are finally ready for wear. Oh and hubby, if you are reading this, do NOT throw these in the washing machine.

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.

Christmas Gift Fjord Holiday Ornament

Gift idea #3.

This is a nicely knit up holiday ornament. This is done in fair isle or stranded knitting with two or more different colors. If you are looking for a more traditional ornament, this is it. Directions are given in both chart form as well written out. I think it would be great with a styrofoam ball in the middle, knitting the two halves separately and then sewing them together. I haven’t tried this yet, but that would be my idea.

http://www.straw.com/cpy/patterns2/accessories/Merino5-Ornament.html

Goodbye Summer

I am very sad to say my summer break is almost over. While I’ve still been working full-time, it was very nice to have the break from the classes. As I’m taking another accounting class beginning Tuesday, my juggling begins again. I really enjoyed getting to hide in my books, knit a few pillows and a sweater that came out completely wrong and a first draft of a novel that I’m down on now. Okay, so some of this summer’s projects failed miserably. However this summer I:

1. Completed two pillow patterns and began a third.

2. Finished a first draft of a novel.

3. Made my first homemade linguine.

4. Finished the entire Sookie Stackhouse novel series (yes 10 books!)

5. Read and listened to numerous more books.

6. Made chinese dumplings from scratch.

7. Made potato parathas.

8. Went to a wedding and got to visit the central timezone for the first time without realizing I was showing up to said wedding an hour early!

I’m sure I did more than that, but those were the things that I came up with. Summer is and always has been my favorite season. Things will get busier soon but I will try very hard to keep up the blogging and keep the patterns coming. I’m looking forward to the Florida Fiber In coming up. This year it will be taking place September 17-19 in Orlando. http://nomadicfiber.yolasite.com/ I look forward to learning how to use my spindle.

Ripping

After what I see as a disastrous sweater error (although my husband kindly says it looks fine) I’ve decided that I will move on to a felted bag before I go ahead and pull my month’s worth of work apart and try again. I can’t remember ever ripping a completed project before, which will be more of a pain because I already did the seaming. If anyone has any tips on the best way to do this, please let me know.

In the meantime, I want to get back to my bag project. I bought different shades of brown Galway wool with the idea of making a striped bag that would be nice enough to carry to work but casual enough to use anywhere else. I’ll keep you updated on that as I go.

Sweater Error

So, I finished my misti alpaca sweater and after spending nearly a month and $40 on it, it looks atrocious. The thing came out short and wide even though I tried to lengthen it by adding extra rows. This is my first adult sweater (shirt) and I’m not really sure where I went wrong. The gauge was pretty close.

I’m really upset and am not sure how or if I can fix this. I wish I knew about knitting sweaters.

If anyone has any advice, please help. Until then, maybe I’ll stick to scarves, shawls and things that aren’t supposed to fit to my figure.

Summer Shirt

Two weeks ago, when I was still on vacation, we took a trip to the Miami area to run errands and so that I could go to one of my favorite knitting shops. The Knitting Garden is a very nicely set up shop with a comfortable atmosphere. It’s located off of Ponce De Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables. I bought four skeins of off white Misti Alpaca Pima Cotton and Silk blend. I was mentally drunk at the time (you know when you feel all light-headed and giggly but he haven’t had any alcohol and you decide to do something that is against your better judgement.) Maybe I was drunk on yarn, surrounded by all those magical varieties of soft shiny material that I could transform into useful objects. So I handed my credit card over and held my eyes tightly shut.

Last weekend, we went to Tennessee for my husband’s daughter’s wedding and with so much car time, I began knitting a shirt for myself. This is my first sweater/shirt for an adult. I’ve done shrugs and shawls as well as baby sweaters but never completed a sweater/shirt. The pattern I’m using is straight off the misti alpaca site. I’m definitely leaving off the cowl and probably the sleeves. I’d rather have the sweater longer. I tried adding on to the bottom rows but when I was done with the back, it still seemed very short. Hopefully after I block it, I’ll have more length.

Here are the pictures of what I’ve done so far. I love the soft material and think it will make a great light summer shirt to show off.

Lazy Summer Days

Tomorrow is Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer. In Southwest Florida, it has been summer for about a month now. The days are above ninety degrees and no one wants to spend time out in the summer. While the pool looks appealing, the air-conditioning is much more comforting. I’m about five inches into my light summer scarf/shawl after a week’s worth of work. I should have this done by Labor day if I’m lucky. Once it is completed, it’ll be my favorite summer accessory. The warm weather is a good time to work with lightweight materials such as cotton, linen, silk and bamboo. I’m using very, very fine wool. I’d love to make a skirt out of linen, but right now I don’t have the budget or the time to cover such a large project.

Summer is a great time for reading for those of us who love to delve into a novel while relaxing pool side or beach side. I recently finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This is something that I could not put down. If I only had five extra minutes in the morning before rushing off to work, I spent those few minutes perusing a few more pages. This is a story of the maids who work in the deep south in the early sixties and the families that they take care of. If you like reading, go out, buy or borrow this book and tell your friends. I hope that this will change how we think of people and class structure.  Society has changes but in some ways, it never will. Kathryn Stockett allows the reader to empathize with Miss Skeeter – the upper class white woman who decided to write the stories of the black maids, as well as the maids themselves, Minnie and Aibileen. I read this in five days despite work, school and even a guest visiting (read a few pages, talk a bit, sneak back to read another page). This one will definitely win awards and hopefully be discussed in classrooms as part of regular curriculum some day.

Making Moolah with Knitting

How to make money knitting? If you find out, please let me know!!!!

There aren’t too many people who actually make money knitting. Most of us try hard not to spend too much of our hard earned cash on the prized strings in our local yarn stores. There are a few people who are making money and even a couple who earn a regular income off of knitting in general. Most of us don’t have the resources to go out there and open a yarn shop. From what I can tell, it is hard to keep up the enthusiasm after awhile. If you are a really talented knitter, there are wealthy people who will pay good money for a hand knit sweater or fancy shawl. I think bags are good too, as long as you can find someone who will pay for your labor as well as the cost of yarn. So far, I haven’t earned even close to mininum wage.
There are companies that will pay to have you test their patterns. Once again, you have to be an experienced knitter. I’m not sure how much they pay, but I’d assume the more experience, the more your income potential.
A great website to visit is etsy. On etsy, people can set up shops (similar to ebay) but can only sell vintage, supplies, and hand-made items. It is fun just to browse around or to find gifts for other people. I have my own shop set up- but I haven’t tried selling anything up to this point.

Most of us don’t knit to make money, but it is definitely a plus if possible.

Ode to Knitpicks

Most avid hobbyists have a favorite store/a favorite brand/ a favorite website to browse around. I have an activity that I liken to window shopping online. I’ll go to a webpage, add everything I could ever want into the shopping cart, and then eventually close out the page. Some places, like amazon, have a wish list so that later on I can decide if I really wanted that thing-a-ma-bob or not.

One of my favorite sites to do thing is Knitpicks. I know this is a not a new company and if you’ve ever favorited anything to do with knitting on Facebook, you’ve likely had an ad from them pop up in the right hand side of your window. Yet, I still love the site. I have the Harmony Options Interchangeable Needles. They are colorful and sharp. Some people may not want pointy objects that are that sharp, but I don’t mind the occasional jab at my fingers as long as they help me tear through some rows faster.

A favorite part of the Knitpicks site is their enormous amount of accessories. Yes, accessories are not always necessary but they are almost always wanted. I don’t mean in that -I need a stitch holder while making this collar- kind of useful way. No- I want the Crafty Critters Knitting Tool Holders because they look cool! I want something shaped like a crocodile to hold my needles. Why not? I do have a GoKnit Pouch which is very useful. I like to throw my small projects in their and I can take them in the car, to work, and to the lunchroom with me as I need to. The best part about it is that it is waterproof, so I don’t have to worry about a loose cap on my water bottle messing up my yarn.

There are tons of great gadgets and gizmos, quality knitting needles, and plenty of yarn on the site. If anyone is looking for a sturdy set of quality interchangeables, I recommend the wood harmony options set. I have no doubt that any of their products will be loved. Happy Knitting.

Sticks and Needles Part II: Shapes and Sizes

Most of us picture a pair of knitting needles, long and skinny with a knob at the end.  I’d imagine them being aluminum and purple.  Those were my first pair of knitting needles bought at the local store, Raindew.  I loved the click click sound they made as I create each stitch.  It was not until years later that I learned about the variety of needles out there.

Straight Needles: These are the long skinny needles with a knob at the end.  They are good for scarves, small blankets and smaller simpler projects.  The knob at the end prevents the stitches from falling off and the stitches are passed from needle to needle with each row.

Double Pointed Needles: These are shorter, skinny needles, usually coming in packs of four or five.  Both ends are pointed with nothing to prevent stitches from falling off.  These are used for socks, i-cords, stuffed animals and small shaped projects.  The stitches are knitted in the round, going from needle to needle with two-four needles holding yarn and one ‘working’ needle.

Circular Needles: These are two straight needles connected by a cord.  The yarn is knit from one needle onto the other, with the stitches sliding on or off via the cord.  These are used for round projects such as hats and sweaters, can be used using two needles to make objects that would normally require double pointed needles (knitting with two circulars), or can be used for knitting flat objects such as scarves by turning the work at the end of each row as if one was working with two straight needles.

Cable Needles: These are used for cables.  They are a smaller needle, usually in the shape of a hook or similar to a ‘V’.  These are used for holding stitches behind or in front of the work, while other stitches are knitted and then knitting the cable needle stitches to create a bump, design or cable.