Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Yesterday I met a Knitter

Yesterday I met a Knitter. That's Knitter with a capital "K". Her name is Kristina (I don't know if her name starts with a "K" or a "Ch", but the "K" seems fitting.
She came into the yarn store asking for advice on her current project. It was her second project ever and she was knitting a lovely hat for her boyfriend for skiing. She told me she thought it looked a "little big". I agreed it looked plenty big, far too big for a hat. She sighed and agreed and asked what she could turn it into instead of a hat. This blew me away. she didn't get upset. She didn't start frogging, she wanted to know what her wip (work-in-progress) could become instead of what it originally had been slated to be. I looked at it and came up with a couple ideas-a capelet perhaps? She liked that idea and mentioned that she had some young nieces and nephews. I suggested she could cast it off and sew an elastic around the top and make a cute little wool skirt. She liked this idea too. I then suggested we put it it on a larger needle to see how big it really was. I told her this was very advanced knitting and she was already into her designing phase of knitting-very impressive. The project was scrinched onto a 12 inch circular and looked like a giant hair scrunchy. I grabbed a 60" needled and started transferring stitches. We ended up with this

If you look closely you can see the stitches are kind of scrunched on the 60" needle. That means the project has to be at least 70 inches, possibly 80.
There are no words to describe how much this amused me. I was no longer able to be understanding and sensitive and I started laughing so hard I thought I was going to hurt myself...
Kristina took this all in good stead. She laughed too. After wiping the tears from my eyes I made the only suggestion I could thing of. "It's a circular scarf." She really liked the idea and she was excited that she had knit a scarf for herself. "Perfect for skiing!" she said. She also said when she was done casting off she would pick up another skein of yarn to retry knitting a hat for her boyfriend.
The reason why her scarf was so big was she had cast on 96 stitches, which was a perfectly reasonable amount. But she had just learned how to purl, so every time she switched from purl to knit stitches and vice versa on the ribbing she did a yarn over. On top of that her gauge was really loose (unusual in a novice and I think it points to her being a fantastic knitter in the future) she ended up with 312 sts knit in a really loose gauge on 5.5 mm ndls.
Kristina also told me that she was going to measure her stitches and see how many stitches she should actually cast on to make a normal sized hat. I thought that was AWESOME. She immediately understood a basic concept of designing with her second project knitting ever. This woman is destined to become a great knitter!
As she was leaving I told her "You know, people are going to stop you and ask you where you got that scarf because it's going to look fantastic and you can say 'Thank you, I designed it myself." She laughed and looked a littl e sheepish and said, "You know what's really funny? I'm a graphic designer..."

Monday, November 23, 2009

"I Only Knit Dishcloths"

I was at a couple craft fairs this weekend and bought some really neat-o stuff. I got a couple super delicious homemade candy canes from a heavily tattooed, super cheerful dude. I got a copyright infringed handstitch Jack the Pumpkin King Christmas ornament, and a really awesome gift that I have been planning on buying for 2 years and finally got around to getting.
I saw a lady selling...well I can't remember what, it wasn't particularly memorable-it was something crafty and christmassy. She was knitting. I looked at her display and her knitting and I said "You knit at a craft show but you don't sell knitted goods?" and she laughed and said "Oh I only knit dishcloths." I think the look on my face said it all because she immediately added "They are all I know how to knit, I don't know how to do anything else." I laughed and said "If you can knit a dish cloth you can knit anything!!!" She didn't believe me. I said "No really! You can do a knit stitch, you can increase and decrease-all you have to do is learn a purl stitch and you can knit a whoel sweater!" I then expounded on the delights of learnign to knit in the modern age with access to the internet. I think I may have come across as a bit of a fanatic. But I just wanted to make her understand. She is knitting, she is increasing and decreasing (most dishcloths are knit corner to corner), she is knitting with cotton (which is one of the more annoying and least forgiving fibres to knit with). She is comfortable knitting while doing other things (extreme beginners have a singular focus on knitting-they can't really do anything else at the same time). She is knitting in public (a sure sign of a convert). She can knit ANYTHING.
I told her about ravelry. I showed her the knitting I had in my purse (a mitten).
I don't know if she will listen to me. She might go home and throw her knitting in the garbage and tell her family that knitting is for crazy people...but she seemed receptive and she seemed really interested in teh idea of knitting other things. I hope I was able to influence her to join us...
I have taught 2 people how to knit and constantly encourage other people to try and learn or to try and learn more. I encourage everyone out there to teach others how to knit. we could be like Amway, (or JW's) only without the weird vitamins and awkward "cold calls."

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's HERE!!!

Here it is!!! This is my first written pattern design! I love these little booties and I think they would make the perfect gift!

Please send me any ideas, criticisms, etc to me through ravelry where my username is electrictree. Feel free to message me with your email address for a .pdf version.

Flynn Booties

These delightful little booties are knit with sock style architecture and a special pointy little toe, Flynn’s are a super quick knit!! These little gems have a seed stitch cuff with curled little toes. They can be whatever you want them to be: Pixie, Robin Hood, Elvish, ad on infinitum! These would also make fantastic Christmas tree ornaments!
This is an excellent beginner sock for those who have always wanted to delve into the mysteries of sock knitting. For a fantastical tutorial on sock knitting I recommend Silver’s Sock Class. ( That’s where I learned to knit socks!!
I knit these booties with Lang Silk Dream and the texture was marvellous. While it may not be practical to knit baby items with a handwash only yarn, booties are small and easy to wash. If you make them as a gift, make sure you include washing instructions, or use any worsted-aran weight in a washing friendly fibre.
Newborn 0-3 months
• 1 Skein Lang Silk Dream (50% Silk, 50% Merino; 98 yds per 50 grm skein) Note-1 skein will easily make 2 maybe even three pairs of booties. Make extra pairs or use the rest for a little hat!
• Double pointed needles Size US 8/5mm
• Tapestry Needles
About 20 sts to 4 inchesé10cm: gauge is not critical to these, but it will affect the finished size of the booties.
k knit
p purl
k2tog knit 2 stitches together
p2tog purl 2 stitches together
ssk slip, slip, knit 2 stitches together
sl slip stitch

Cast on 24 st onto 1 needle.
Work cuff in seed stitch
Row 1: Ssk, *k1, p1* to last 2 sts, k2tog, turn work- 22 sts remain
Row 2: *k1, p1* turn work
Row 3: Ssk, *p1, k1* to last 3 sts, k1, k2tog, turn work- 20 sts remain
Row 4: K1, *k1, p1* to last st, k1
Row 5: Repeat row 1- 18 sts remain
Row 6: *k1, p1*
Divide sts over 3 needles-6 sts each needle.
Join for knitting in the round, a marker is unnecessary if you use the split in the cuff as an indicator for the beginning of the round
Knit in stocking stitch (knitting every stitch) for 5cm- about 12 rows.
Setup- k 14. Arrange next 9 sts on to 1 ndl for heel flap. place remaining 9 sts on 2 needles on hold until heel is finished-this is a good time to double check that your heel flap lines up with the split in the top of the cuff.
Row 1: Sl 1, k8, turn work-
Row 2: sl1, p8, turn work
Row 3: sl 1, k8, turn work
Row 4: Repeat row 2
Row 5: Repeat row 1
Row 6: Repeat row 2
Turn Heel:
Row 1: Sl1, k4, k2tog, k1, turn work- 8 sts remain
Row 2: Sl1, p2, p2tog, p1, turn work- 7 sts remain
Row 3: Sl1, k3, k2tog, turn work- 6 sts remain
Row 4: Sl1, p3, p2tog, turn work-5 sts remain
Row 5: Sl1, k5
Arrange the 9 sts on hold for top of foot onto one needle
Set up round: Pick up 4 sts on side of heel flap. K9 sts on top of foot, pick up 4 sts on other side of heel flap, k2. Take last 3 sts on ndl and slip to next ndl.
Rather than use markers on such a small project the bootie is divided into 3 needles. Ndl 1 is the beginning of the round, Ndl 2 the top of the foot, and Ndl 3 the end of the round. At this point there should be 7 sts on Ndl 1, 9 sts on Ndl 2, and 6 sts on Ndl 3 for a total of 22 sts in the round.
Round 1: Ndl 1- k4, k2tog, k1. Ndl 2- k9. Ndl 3- k1, ssk, k3. 20 sts remain
Round 2: K all sts on all Ndls
Round 3: Ndl 1- k3, k2tog, k1. Ndl 2- k9. Ndl 3- k1, ssk, k2. 18 sts remain
Knit in stocking stitch for 3 cm-about 8 rows
Round 1: Ndl 1- k5. Ndl 2- ssk, k5, k2tog. Ndl 3- k4. 16 sts remain
Round 2: Ndl 1- k5. Ndl 2- ssk, k3, k2tog. Ndl 3-k4. 14 sts remain
Round 3: Ndl 1- k5. Ndl 2- ssk, k1, k2tog. Ndl 3- ssk, k2. 11 sts remain
Round 4: Ndl 1-k3, k2tog. Ndl 2- k3. Ndl 3- ssk, k1. 9 sts remain
Round 5: Ndl 1-k2, k2tog. Ndl 2- k3. Ndl 3- ssk. 7 sts remain
Round 6: Ndl 1- k1, k2tog. Ndl 2- k3. 6 sts remain
Place the 3 remainin sts from Ndls 1 and 3 onto one needlem there should be 3 sts left on Ndle 2.
Row 1: sl 1, k2
Row 3: sl 1, p2. Ndl 2- k3
Cut end. Thread yarn through remain 6 sts. Weave in ends. Block

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wait for it...

I just desinged the coolest baby booties!! I think they are fantastic. Sometime tomorrow or the next day I am going to post the pattern on my blog. They are Peter Pan/Pixie/Robin Hood Booties. They knit SUPER fast-maybe an hour a bootie (at most). This will be my first foray into pattern writing for others, so I would love it if people could take a couple hours out of their day and knit them, and then give me some constructive feedback on my pattern writing.
Of course, if you want to just tell me how absolutely freaking awesome I am...that's OK too...
Feeling the suspense yet??

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New Robe

I got a new robe yesterday. There are no words ot describe how I feel about this piece of clothing. It's a little ridiculous. Not long ago I came to the realization that I have never owned a brand new robe bought just for me. Every single robe I have ever owned has been given to me by my Mom, who often has a rather large robe wardrobe. They are usually new-but given the fact that she is 3 or 4 inches shorter than me, they don't always fit right. I also wear them until they die. I think I hav eonly owned 2 or 3 robes in my life. I remember the one I had through teenagedom into early adulthood ended up looking like the shroud of Turin. I wore it until it caught on something and ripped in half. I wore it so long that while it was originally terry cloth the part that could be classified as "terry" had fallen off and the cloth had fallen into the category of "flannel".
I have been aware of my robe wearing patterns for a while now but hadn't replaced the one I had until yesterday. Partially because it's a very good robe (short in the arms, and body and not wide enough but good quality nonetheless) but also because I am 5'10" so "O/S" robes don't fit that great. Because apparently all women are small. I have shopped through the mens section and been lured by giant robes, but then I get stubborn. I don't want a brown robe...
Yesterday I found my robe and fell in love with it. I was walking down the aisle in the store and I saw a brillian flash of red...I reached out to touch it and it was's the softest thing I have ever felt. It's red. It's incredibly inexpensive. It comes in various sizes including XL. I was sold.
Right now I am blogging in my RED robe bought just for me. I am going to knit in it. I am going to spin in it. I am going to eat my lunch while wearing it. I hope that someone knocks on the door so I can answer it wearing it. Maybe I will do some yard work while wearing it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rick can be SO annoying...

Lately I have been fairly productive with my knitting. I have finished several small objects, as you can see from previous posts, and finally got back to work on the skull socks. I am not 100% happy with the design and I have a lot of tweaking to do, but they turned out all right.

I have finally got back to work on Tiny's sweater. I had to take a rather long hiatus for the sake of my hands. It was become extremely painful to knit it. I think a lot of it has to do with my refusal to use a cable needle. I knit contintental so it's really easy to slip the stitches off the needle and hold them with my right thumb and index finger while purling/knitting the next stitches and then slipping them back onto the left needle. This method is infinitely faster for me and saves me the hunt for the cable needle. But with this particular project, the knitting is very tight and the yarn is very inflexible so it requires a stronger grip on the slipped stitches, which consequently requires a stronger grip on the needles. I have found a decent balance that involves me relaxing my grip a little bit and only knitting 4 rows at a time (which ends up pretty close to and inch so that's not so bad) so progress is WAY slower than I am used to, but it's moving along instead of sitting on the edge of the couch looking accusatory.

The front is on the top. I still think the back looks like it is from a Klingon...

Turkey has been not at all supportive, nor impressed with my knitting endeavours.

I have also cast on the rick socks by cookie a. I am a huge fan of cookie a and I LOVE her sock patterns. I think they are beautiful and interesting, and unlike any other socks I have ever seen. I HATE knitting them. I bought the twisted flower pattern eons ago (they look like something the Loth Lorien elves would wear) and tried knitting it a couple times and was incredibly frustrated with it, after a few full froggings I gave up. I don't mind the occasional frog (such a lie, I HATE frogging) but having to frog the whole thing back to nothing multiple times is more than my delicate psyche can bear.
I bought cookie a's sock innovation this spring and I love the book. It's a fantastic combination of patterns and techniques and goes through some really great techniques for designing your own socks. I tried the rick pattern a few times...multiple frogs...guess what happened? I put the whole thing away for about 8 months. I didn't try any more of her patterns, I was too disheartened by the fact that I hated knitting things that I loved.
The other day I picked up the book again. I purchased a nice simple solid yarn and set about casting on rick socks...again. The level of frustration is not much lower but my knowledge of knitting has increased exponentially since the spring. I am now capable of knitting from complex charts. I can read my knitting in a way that I couldn't before-now rather than blindly follow charts and instructions I can watch what I am knitting to see if it is correct as I go (not infallible by any means, but a huge improvement). The socks still drive me mad.
I have figured out a few reasons for this. I didn't read the other projects on rick before I cast on. I shall do that from now on for ALL of cookie a's patterns. The first thing that was messed was that it says to cast on 60 sts, but most people need 72 (it's a 12 st repeat). This is not because of errors in gauge, this is because the socks were designed to be REALLY skinny. So skinny that 98.2% of the populaiton probably can't wear them. There were people that persevered with 60 sts and a stretchy yarn and ended up with socks that look terrible and distorted (like wattching 4:9 on a 16:9 TV) I got the ribbing done and 4 repeats of the pattern and realized they were WAY to small so ripped them back (there were quite a few mistakes as well).
I also learned that you need to use yarn that is amazingly unsplitty with cookie a patterns. There are a lot of stitches that aren't that easy so non-splitty yarn is a must (like ssk, or ktbl right next to purl sts...blech).
Another great thing I learned about cookie a patterns is they are not conducive to continental knitters. I thought it was just that I sucked, but it's the order of the sts and the ssk's next to yarn overs and ktbl's knext to purls that make me want to shred the knitting and then curl into a ball and suck my humb while weeping softly in the corner. After some serious thought I realized this pattern would be MUCH easier if i was a yarn thrower. This is one of the only times I will say something like this. In general continental is way faster and way easier (Elizabeth Zimmerman said so, and I believe her.) I even read in a few posts about rick that the left sock is way easier than the right sock for continental knitters (yes I am knitting a sock with different patterns on the left and right...le sigh).
And last but not least, switching the ssk's for sl1, k1, psso's is WAY easier and makes for better tension (for me)
...I also suspect that knitting with one of those tiny circular needles rather than dpn's might make for more even tension because there are yo's at the ends of the repeats, which means there are yo's at the very ends of your needles.
So after this in depth analysis of these socks, I am not trying to say the socks are bad, or the patterning is bad, or that cookie a is a sadistic designer. I still think her socks are incredible and I still LOVE the designs. They make you think and figure things out. So if they are approached in that manner, they are fabuluous. I would not reccomend them to anyone that wasn't an experienced knitter-I want to keep my knitterly friends, not have them egging my house screaming obscenities about 87 row, 88 sts repeat charts....