Sticks & Needles Part I: what’s your needle made of?

Knitting needles are those indispensible tools of the knitting trade that seem so simple and yet are available in an immense variety.  Many people remember the long skinny metal sticks that their Grandmothers used and the sound of the click click click, stitch by stitch.  Today, needles are found in just about any material.  The most popular ones are:

Metal: smooth, good for quick stitches, can be more difficult for slicker yarns.

Wood: Warm to work with, more mailable will flex while working, better for slick yarn and tighter stitches. 

Plastic: Light, smooth, flexible.  Can become very warm while using.

Bamboo: Has a lot of the same qualities as wood needles but are lighter.  They are also more abt to breaking (as I have broken my share of cheap ones).

If you are just starting out, try different needles to see what is most comfortable.  As with everything, different people like different materials.  My favorites of the moment are my Knitpicks Harmony needles and the Lantern Moon Sox Sticks.  I do go through phases where I prefer to use metal needles.

Knit One Purl One Whine a bit

It’s Tuesday evening and I have a midterm tomorrow.  I’ve been studying since Saturday and my brain is getting tired.  Every once in a while, I get a row in of the baby blanket.  I am a bit over half way through and hope to have it done in 2-3 weeks.  I also have a new simple shawl on the needles.

I am having a small glass of Goats Do Roam wine to relax a bit while glancing back at my notes every few minutes.  It’s a great, inexpensive white wine.  I bought it at Publix after wine tasting and am now sad that the bottle is almost gone.  The australian wine is just the perfect texture and taste for a few sips before bed, a glass with a salad, or girls night in. 

One little note, knitting and drinking generally don’t go together.  A glass of wine or a beer while going through a simple pattern is fine, but the more you drink, the more mistakes you make.  For more intricate and lace patterns, a cup of tea is probably the better option. 

Back to work, both studying and working on the blanket!

Ravelry

It seems like there are now social network sites for everything.  I’m one of those people who are completely addicted to Facebook but do not want to admit it.  I’m an online junkie who needs to recheck everything, including my knitwerks site, regularly.  I wake up, take a shower, go online. 

There are many knitting social network sites out there, but my favorite and probably the most popular is Ravelry.  It is a community for knitters, crocheters, spinners and dyers to join, share, and talk about the crafts they love.  There are thousands upon thousands of patterns available both free and for a fee.  You can search by yarn, by needle size, or even designer.  Their notebook section allows you to add yarns, needles, books and projects.  It is a great way to organize that mess of a stash you may have!

  One of my favorite features is the groups.  You can join other crafters based on favorite tv show, region, school, or similar interests.  There is a group for Knitty fans, for tea lovers, for cat people, for House fans and for nearly every local knitting shop.  Inside, you can commiserate, discuss events, and share projects that you are working on and have finished.

I love to browse the patterns.  You can use key words to help guide your search, but I generally wander aimlessly through page after page of recently added items, favoriting the ones I like the most in hopes that I come back to it.  This is a great inspiration and makes me warm and fuzzy inside.

Left Handed Knitting

I have had a few people ask me how to knit and then say, “but, I’m left-handed.”  Believe it or not, left-handed people knit too.  I, myself, am right-handed and am self-taught thanks to books and the internet.  My grandmother was a left-handed knitter.  My mother had asked to her to teach her when she was very young, but poor Mom couldn’t catch on because she was a righty as well.  For lefties, it is usually the opposite. 

A great way to find directions is on http://youtube.com

Left handed Knitting

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7046rdhRTWU

Left handed Purling

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPzKU9JTA2Q&feature=related

Left handed Cast on

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq5jHYila7Q

As you begin to get comfortable knitting, you may decide to try to find patterns for more complicated designs.  However, you have to remember that patterns are generally written for righties.   Decreases and cables may not come out as expected in written instructions.  Charts are more useful for lefties, but some patterns are written for lefties as well.  There are many websites out there for left-handed knitters and crocheters, so don’t let that discourage your interest in crafting.

Misti Alpaca Socks

Misti Alpaca Socks

The Sunday after Christmas, a few members of my family and I went into Manhattan to see a few sites and of course- to visit a knit shop!  After seeing Rockefeller Center and FAO Schwartz, we headed down to 79th Street to visit Knitty City.  The shop was cute.  It was a long narrow without a lot of space, as all places in Manhattan are short on space, but there were still comfortable niches to hang out in.  My mother bought me a skein of Misti Alpaca hand painted sock yarn.  I had plans of designing a shawl from it and it would be the best thing ever.  I started and frogged repeatedly until I finally relented and went to the website.  I knitted a pair of socks off their basic pattern, and they are the most comfortable socks I have ever worn.  The last few days have been so cold in the new office, I’ve now taken to wearing these.  They truly are better than slippers.

Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.  Valentine’s day is meant to celebrate the love.  If you didn’t receive flowers or chocolates or perfume this year, you are not alone.  When my husband and I first met, I discovered that his former girlfriend had not given him a card because it was a girl’s holiday and this upset him.  For our first Valentine’s Day together I gave him about 20 cards.  They were all less than $1, but the sentiment was there.  That day was a disaster.  I can’t think of a good V-day before or after meeting my sweet heart.  It seems we are always broke and unable to celebrate the materialistic side of the holiday.  I know it is a hallmark holiday.

Anyway, I hope I’m not bumming too many people out.  I’m in a bit of a funk lately and need to snap out of it.  I should have knit my honey a heart, but wasn’t really into it.  I am working on something now that I think will turn out fantastic with a new pattern to post, but I’d rather not jinx it too early.

I did also start posting to the stitch library.  Please visit my page https://knitwerks.com/ and click on stitch library at the top to see more.  So far I have stockinette, garter, seed, double seed, rib and double rib.  I can’t wait to add more.  I need a better way to take pictures so they show better. 

Happy Valentine’s Day to all today.  Show someone you love them anyway you can.

Knit Therapy

There is a reason that I latched onto knitting so long ago.  Knitting and crocheting are great for stress relief and depression.  The repetitive motion is soothing.  It is like watching tv with white noise.  The mind blanks out.  The world, its stresses, the rambling unending thoughts dissipate.  It’s an escape- even if temporary.  It’s also great because you are creating something and can find fulfillment in that.  It is also cheaper than therapy, unless of course you love really expensive yarn.  Think productive meditation!

I also knit in the car to keep my eyes off the road while my hubby is driving.  I think it helps our marriage in many ways- especially to keep me from backseat driving.  Well, most of the time it does.  It’s a portable hobby and still becoming more trendy.  It is even easier to learn in the age of YouTube and the internet.  Anything you’ve ever wanted to know is at your fingertips.

Julie and Julia

     I am completely in love!  I am in head over heals, heart pounding, lightbulb flashing in love with the movie Julie and Julia.  I cannot wait to download the book to my kindle and to eat that word by word.  Amy Adams in great but Meryl Streep is simply extraordinary.  My husband was less than excited when I said I had rented the movie Julie and Julia from the $1 blockbuster machine at Publix.  I put it in the DVD player as soon as we got in and luckily did not fast forward past the previews.  Jeff went to the computer, plugged in the title, and saw the words Julia and Child, and rushed out to watch. 

For me, Julia Child is a name, like James Dean or Doris Day.  I recognize her name and know why she is famous, but have no real connection to her.  But he grew up watching her, idealizing her, with the foundation of his every night masterpiece dinners from her lessons.  Of course, with that thought, I am truly grateful to her.  I loved watching Meryl Streep’s enthusiasm and learning about what it took for Julia Child to become who we know her as today.

I had to blog about this because I too am a non-writer who is working for a government agency feeling like life has not panned out.  I too have a hobby/passion for something that is less than understood.  I love to knit and began my website to share my ideas and to tackle designing.  I’m not a professional, but I enjoy what I do.  I only hope that I can be as dedicated as Julia Child or Julie Powell.

In the meantime, please bear with me.  I will be posting and knitting away.  At this time, I am attending classes at FGCU for my second bachelor’s degree in Accounting while working -, attempting to care of a house, a husband, and four cats, and juggling as much as possible.  I will be knitting as stress relief of course.  I am working on my second sock with Misti Alpaca using their pattern as my guide.  I hope to design a shawl when I’m finished with my gorgeous sock!

www.julieandjulia.com

Triple Cabled Scarf


Sorry I haven’t been around lately.  After the wedding, the visitors, the honeymoon and the job stress, I wound up taking a small hiatus from knitting.  I made some Christmas ornaments for family members.  Now, I’m preparing to go back to NY for Christmas and while they enjoy their snowstorm, I know I am going to freeze.  Living in Southwest Florida has been a blessing for me, but has spoiled me to cold weather.  I used a pattern from ravelry to make a floppy beret to keep my head warm and wanted to make a scarf that would go.

This is my Triple Cabled Scarf made with Plymouth Alpaca Prima yarn double strandled with size 10 straight needles.  I am in love with this scarf!  The yarn had been in my collection for well over a year, waiting for the perfect project.  Thank you Gabriella’s Yarn Shop  for this!  She no longer has this in stock, but she has many many great yarns.

Cabled Gauge 18 stitches x 4 in  /      4 rows x 1 in

C4F = hold 2 stitches to front with cable needle.  Knit 2 from left needle, then knit 2 from cable needle to create left twisting 4 stitch cable.

Cast on 24 stitches on size 10 needles

Knit first 4 rows in seed stitch (k1p1k1 to end)

Row 5 – k1 p1 k1 p2 k4 p1 k4 p1 k4 p2 k1 p1 k1

Row 6 – k1 p1 k1 k2 p4 k1 p4 k1 p4 k2 k1 p1 k1

Row 7 – k1 p1 k1 p2 c4f p1 c4f p1 c4f p1 k1 p1 k1

Row 8 – repeat row 6

Repeat rows 5-8 until you’ve reached desired length,

End with 4 rows of seed stitch, k1

Organization, Projects, and More

Trying to organize.  This is what taking up knitting really means!
Trying to organize. This is what taking up knitting really means!

I was wandering through ravelry and the many groups that I have joined there when I stumbled upon Gabriella’s post. She wants to donate at least 50 scarves to the Abused Women’s Shelter here in Naples by Christmas. My mind immediately started rumbling through ideas. I have a stash of many scarves that I’ve finished with fun fur and similar materials that I’ve tried to sell before. I made some mad money last year with these fuzzy scarves but I have plenty of extras. I also have a tremendous stash that has overtaken my bedroom. I have yarn in tubs, under the bed, in dresser drawers and even in the walk in closet. If you think that’s bad- half my closet is books instead of clothes.
I pulled everything into the livingroom so I would have no choice but to go through everything and organize it. I put my needles away and even found a helpful tip online to organize circular needles. I put them in clear binder slots that would normally hold my patterns and other important papers. I have them in order from size 0-15. I went through yarn, winding and untangling. I now am the proud owner of an organized mess. I have to destash and what better way then by helping others.
I also love that I can make scarves because I can create new designs. I am brainstorming on what might work and still look good. I just wish that I was giving these to people who’d appreciate the warmth of a good scarf. We live in Southwest Florida and a scarf is rarely needed here.
I haven’t spoken to Gabriella yet but I do know that she is setting up kits for the project. She is merely looking for people to volunteer their time and energy. If you are interested in helping, Gabriella’s contact information can be found on her website http://ready2knit.com. I will try to keep everyone updated in the meantime.

Wedding Garter

Wedding Garter

I wanted a couple of special knit accents to my wedding ensemble, seeing as I am a bit of a knitting nut!  If I had more time, I am sure Iwould have knit my own wedding dress, but with less than three months for an engagement, I just was not prepared to rush a design and dress out- especially for a beach wedding.  Instead, I’ve made a beaded scarf and now I have finished the garter.  It is a bit different from the traditional garters that I have seen, but I think that it will be treasured. 

I used Aslan Trends Class Yarn, which is a sport weight yarn as the main part of the garter.  For the blue edge, I used a lace weight yarn that I had bought years ago and never found a use for.  Any lace, light sport weight yarn should do.  The ribbon is 1/8 inch wide.  I knit the ribbed section with white elastic held together with the aslan yarn.  Also,I recommend using a stitch marker to keep track of where the row begins.

The gauge is 14 stitches = 4 inches wide, 8 rows = 1 inch for the ribbing with size four circular needle 16 inches long.

Cast on 70 stitches. 

Row 1: Join without twisting stitches, K5,P2, Continue to end.

Row 2: K5, P2 holding yarn and elastic together.

Continue for 6 more rows, end using elastic in row 8.

Row 9: K1, Yarn Over, continue to end (140 stitches)

Row 10: K2, Yarn Over, continue to end (210 stitches)

Row 11: Knit

Row 12: K2together 3 times, K1 Yarn over 6 times, repeat to end.

Row 13: Knit

Row 14: Knit

Row 15: Bind off using blue or other colored lace/light sport weight yarn.

Lace ribbon into the wholes that were created in Row 9.  Tie the ribbon to hold the garter up on the leg.

wedding garter

garter