Category Archives: ToteAround

A new leaf, knitting-wise.

I am the back of Banff Once again, I ended the old year as I meant to begin the new one: knitting. December 31 found the Knit One Purl Too crew at a New Year’s party heavily populated with knitters (not just one but two projects from Knitty were in full swing – the Marley scarf is very cool in person). If January 1 is any indication of how the rest of the new year will go, it will be a tidier-than-average year (who shampoos their carpet on January 1? We do!) full of exercise and knitting. and, though I’ve said this before and been utterly wrong, I’m almost completely positive there will be a finished sweater – my first.

I owe most of my progress on Banff to date to my steady consumption of TV shows on DVD: nothing gets rid of the sickly sweet heartwarming aftertaste of Seinfeld like two seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Yes, I’m being sarcastic, but it sneaks up on you – first you think the show is just weird, and by the end of the season, you might find yourself saying, as I did “This is a show even more emphatically about nothing than Seinfeld. That Larry David is a genius.” I am the sleeves of Banff.  Yes, this knitter is off Sleeve Island

Since the knitting friend who inspired me to start Banff is returning from six months in New Zealand tomorrow, I had hoped against hope to actually finish Banff and wear it to the airport when I picked her up. This photo shows where I was on the front yesterday afternoon; even though I’ve made some progress, I feel fairly certain that I can’t complete the front, seam the sweater and knit the turtleneck in the next 28 hours. One piece to go - the front

In the better late than never department, item one, we have a photo of the finished ToteAround; I love this bag a lot – it was definitely worth waiting until I cracked the code and could do it justice with my improved technique. It’s not my last FO of 2005, but it might be my favorite. Stats: Navy Cascade 220, Kureyon 102 (top) and Kureyon 40 (bottom), plus one and a half cycles in the wash and two days to dry. I'm carrying it right now, actually

Better late than never, item two: I ran across Kelly’s list of knitting resolutions for 2006; since I already had something like this in mind, I thought I’d write some things down so I can look back in 360-odd days and see what really happened.

Notable in 2005

1. New technique(s): Two-handed Fair Isle, dropping stitches more than a few rows to fix mistakes which include cables needing retwisting, the afterthought heel, purling 2 together through the back loop.
2. Favorite finished object: The ToteAlong; I liked making it, I like the finished result, and I will actually use it.
3. Favorite knit-along: I loved being a sock pal for SockaPal2za. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, so I’m happy to see Alison is considering it. I’d also like to publicly apologize to those in the StockingAlong and Who Wouldn’t Love a Handknitted Gift – I was too wrapped up in actually knitting the stocking to post about knitting the stocking.
4. Favorite shop: One with yarn in it. I don’t buy a lot of yarn, but I find it slightly unsettling that I’m losing interest in other kinds of stores.
5. Favorite tool: I have two sets of Denise needles, thanks to a happy gifting experience last year. I’ve also grown to appreciate and prefer bamboo DPNs to birch ones.

Resolutions for 2006

1. Finish a sweater (I know, My God, shut up already about the “no sweater yet” thing and knit).
2. Finish UFOs. Other than Banff. I currently have two pairs of socks and a sweater on the needles; I’d like to finish two of those three things before starting something new.
3. Fight startitis. As a rule, I’d like no more than three things on the needles at any one time: socks or something small, a medium project (tank top, hat, scarf), and a big project (sweater, afghan or shawl).
4. Ix-nay on the deadline-oriented gift knitting – who cares if it feels weird to be knitting something red and green in July? Starting early cuts down on the feeling of desperation later.
5. Knit something lacy.
6. Reclaim the yarn from a sweater. I already have two to choose from, so I feel like I’m halfway there.
7. Go through my odds-and-ends box – if the yarn in there were more organized, it might get used up.
8. Beat my FO total for 2005. Three pairs of socks, one hat, one felted bag, one Christmas stocking. I think I can beat that, and if I do, I can rationalize treating myself to something new. Note to Margene: The desire for increased productivity is really more about persistence than product – seeing the results of sticking it out is just a bonus.

Possible projects for 2006 (very, very hard to limit myself to 10 – but what’s the point of making a list unless it has an end to it? That said, I reserve the right to make substitutions for knitting projects to be named later.)

1. Lopi sweater #22 from book 18 (currently stashed)
2. The Flower Basket Shawl (currently stashed)
3. Katrina Rib Shell
4. Crusoe socks (currently stashed, choice of two colors)
5. Hatmione (possible stash substitution available)
6. Pop-up Paws fingerless gloves with mitten tops (currently stashed)
7. Ene’s scarf from Scarf Style
8. I-cord gloves (possible stash)
9. The cabled cardigan from VK Holiday 2004, or Shana’s own lovely cable and rib Anastasia sweater.
10. Tiny Christmas ornament sweaters (currently stashed).
10a. (or the bonus round): I have approximately a jillion sock patterns culled from the interweb – perhaps it’s time to give one of those a try? Like Liesje’s socks (picture here).

This leaves out The Must Have cardigan, any socks of any kind that rock or Jaywalk, and you’ll note I haven’t left much room for the unexpected. I guess that’s why they call them surprises – Happy New Year!

What are my options?

I was no longer truly in love with the Retro Rib sock – I loved the yarn, I loved the pattern – I even sort of loved them together. But this project had languished in my basket for far too long – and absence lack of progress did not make the heart grow fonder. I think the moment of truth came last week while I was fixing fudging the heel flap in the middle of an opera master class (yes, not only have I knitted with Chrisitine Lavin, I have now technically knitted with opera star Marilyn Horne, who is very, very funny). I was lamenting (for the millionth time) my use of lovely yarn that is nonetheless dark and obscures stitches, a huge obstacle to the production of the high-quality socks we hope for here at Knit One, Purl Too.

My moment was just like the instant you see a ding in your new car, and though you love it in spite of the ding, you love it a little less now that you know it’s no longer perfect. Your mind wanders for just a tiny moment to contemplate the next new car, because the car with the ding is now “old”. I began thinking about new socks. Should I

a. Throw over the old, bad socks for new, good socks – nothing fascinates like a new pattern, and I have been waiting to do Danny Ouelette’s Crossing Cables socks for months.

How long has this languished? Months and months. b. Spend an entire Saturday on the couch nursing a beagle who ate something which did not agree with him (thus he was not allowed anywhere he might unexpectedly deposit…something…on carpet or bedding), with the only knitting in reach being one Retro Rib sock.

I’ll take B. for $500, Alex. I feel almost virtuous saying that: “I’ll stick with it.” Because you don’t know it’s going to turn out better until it does.

In other knitting landmarks, the very first ball of yarn I ever wound from a skein (wound by hand because I was a Luddite without a winder art the time), some navy Cascade 220, recently became the last bit of the body of the ToteAround. That’s Kureyon 40 (the blues) and Kureyon 102 (the orange/yellow/pink/blue); I tried several different options for the 102 including knitting from the predominantly pink end of this ball (I never thought I would say this, but it was too pink) and knitting with earth-toned scraps of Kureyon 81(surprisingly, too earth-toned), but the third try is juuuust right. Knit One Purl Too’s Aesthetic Consultant (aka my husband) compared it to a sunset over a lake – you can’t beat that with a stick! Like a sunset over a lake, all right

Now I am occupied with the miles and miles of i-cord for the top edging of the bag – the 45 inches for the strap is just the beginning. Then you knit on enough i-cord to circle the top of the bag and the strap three times; for the record, I have 1 1/2 trips around the horn to go. While I love the knitted-on i-cord technique, I know the i-cord will make things sturdy and I love the bag, I may have to set it aside. A tiny voice inside my head is saying “You have 34 days until the Festivus stocking should be done.” I can’t ignore it for much longer; even though 825 hours, 8 minutes and 31 seconds sounds longer, I know it’s not.

I’m not at Rhinebeck either.

All done, with huge thanks to Laurie for the lovely yarnI am at a weird place, knitting-wise. I’m doing a good job of finishing old projects to get them off the needles and moving newer projects along. However, this requires a little “one step back, two steps forward” knitting manipulation that’s unsettling in that…it’s so “business as usual”. There are no tears, there is no gnashing of teeth, there is no trauma – there is just fixing. To wit: before you can finish the summer socks and free up these needles for the Christmas stocking, you need to rip out the too-short sock toe. Toe doesn’t want to rip? Then cut blithely away with your trusty scissors, rip, put the sock back on the needles and knit on. Having trouble picking up stitches for your Retro Rib sock gusset? Suspect a too-short heel flap is giving you headaches? Rip and reknit, my friend. That’s the kind of thing I’m doing. And progress is my reward. A finished pair of socks (I am officially over any fear of grafting – doesn’t that toe look nice?), a finished sleeve for the Lush sweater (pictures to come; I am still apprehensive about the actual sweater assembly, but we will knit that stitch when we come to it), a heel flap, and…a circle.

If this isn't from the very bottom of my stash, I don't know what isNot just any circle – this is the bottom of the felted bag that gave me fits when I first started knitting in earnest two years ago. It’s the Tote Around from Janet Scanlon – I figured out last week how to start it myself! Forget the deadly combination of huge needles and small hands, Magic Loop to the rescue, dude. If anything, I am in a Magic Loop rut – when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Marshalling my forces for the Festivus Stocking, this morning I was making sure I have the right needles – I actually found myself looking at a 16″ needle this morning, thinking “Is that long enough?” But the Loop of Magic is working for me, so that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Just like the looping, I’m also all over the ToteAround – it’s the potato chips of knitting. I can’t seem to put it down, even though I know there are other projects calling to me. If it could talk, the Lush sweater would be particularly bitter at being thrown over for something new, but I had to take a small break so I could forget the angora fuzz flying everywhere during each session on Sleeve Island. But the words “first finished sweater” are worth pulling out the lint brush for, so I’ll be on to Sleeve Two soon enough.

Through all of this fixing, I’m thinking about the kind of knitter I am, an the kind of knitter I’m becoming. When I first started knitting, I considered myself lucky to complete a project, let alone a finished object I could be proud of – “Can I do this?” was a real question in my mind as I struggled with wee cabled mice and felted bags. More often now, the question is “How am I going to do this for the best result?” I wouldn’t mind knitting faster, but quality is emerging as more important than quantity (thanks in part to knitters like Melinda, who is fearless in her pursuit of fine finished objects – the sweater she’s currently finishing is a perfect example of knitting as craft and art). What kind of knitter am I? I hope I will be a knitter who is always learning as I knit, even if I am looking forward to finishing something and moving on. What kind of knitter are you?

Peak experiences (and I’m not talking about the sock pattern).

It seems to be a pattern – I buy just a little more yarn, then I review my existing stash and feel the need to have a lie-down because, as the world’s slowest knitter, I easily have more than a year’s worth of projects waiting. Maybe two years’ worth. Then I buy a little more yarn. Usually sock yarn, because it’s cheaper, and after all, how long can socks take? Well, for my birthday last May, my mom took me to the yarn store and I bought some Mountain Colors and some Meilenweit Cotton Fun…both still stashed, seven months later. I lamely proposed a rule to my husband that I should not re-shop at a yarn store I’ve visited until I knit up something that I purchased there. [note: Technically, I've already broken this rule by returning to my LYS to purchase Magic Looping stuff and yarn for swatching, even as the felted tote I so wanted to make languishes]. Thank goodness for KnitFest.

Joke not about Toledo – when it is the site of knitting classes and knitting vendors you would ordinarily not see in your neck of the woods, it’s a beautiful place. Things worth sharing:

1. I sat two feet from Nancy Bush for three hours. I watched her cut a steek, which is as cool as it sounds. She was smart and funny, and I managed to keep up with the class without having to admit I have never finished a knitted garment. She signed my book. She just finished a new sock book too, so keep your eyes peeled.

2. Marilyn from Blackwater Abbey Yarns is the nicest person ever – by the time I finish the Cabled Rib Cardigan, we will have tracked down the perfect wooden buttons for it. What’s more, I spotted a new pattern for a cabled cardigan with a healthy dose of bobbles and XOX ribbing by Beth Brown-Reinsel, one of a series of pretty stunning samples knitted up and featured in the Blackwater Abbey booth…and named after Marilyn herself. Very cool, so that came home with me [no picture yet here or at the BWA site - it's that new!].

3. My first two-color knitting project will be a Christmas stocking kit from Arnhild Hillesland that thankfully, doesn’t have to be ready until next Christmas. She has a lifetime’s worth of beautiful Norwegian patterns, at least for someone who knits as slowly as I do. As I left, she said “You know where to find us!” Oh, I’ll be back, don’t worry.

Finally, there was Debi from Dzined; I had been stalking her since summer, hoping to feel and purchase some of her yarns in person, and I liked them so much I shopped there twice…in a two hour period (Please. What if someone bought the sock yarn I wanted while I was in class? You would have done the same thing). In addition to two completely different skeins of sock yarn, I got some worsted varigated in lovely deep fall hues to make a Multidirectional scarf because it’s officially cold here in Ohio now. I was so excited that I cast on Saturday and knitted (here’s a closeup) on the way to a wedding in Columbus. Was I working on charity mittens? That are due today? No, I was enjoying the yarn that, for me, was worth waiting for. As I said to Stephanie yesterday, the variation in color is not tacky and bad (like some yarns which shall go unnamed and keep us from enjoying variegated lace to its fullest), but subtle and good. I would buy Debi’s yarn sight unseen now ["Hi, it's Donna - here's the VISA, send more yarn, whatever's good."], and not just because we clearly like the same colors. It may be the one yarn I’d take to a desert island with me, and I’ve touched angora.

Now, about those charity mittens – do you think I can finish the mate (not started) by dinnertime? Clearly someone who puts her own needs before those of children who need mittens is a bad person. At least the scarf and I will look stylish in hell.

Basic knitting skills required.

From Nanette:

10. If a project is bugging you, take a break or abandon it. It is wrong to force yourself to knit something you aren’t enjoying. You should ALWAYS enjoy the process of knitting.

Okay, I’ll say it: My felted bag is no fun. At all. I’ll eventually get it done, but I spent two and a half hours working on it with my favorite knitting tutor on Saturday, and even she – a woman who’s been knitting since she was ten – said “This isn’t easy. It’s not you.”

You know, the pattern says “basic knitting skills required,” but I would have appreciated something more along the lines of a warning label: “This pattern requires extensive use of double-pointed needles with small numbers of stitches, and you’ll probably want to know more than one kind of increase – if this is your first project with DPNs, adjust your frustration levels accordingly.” Ugh. Okay, moving on.

meeses.jpg On the bright side: two lovely mousies off to Wendy for the mouseathon. These looked so much nicer after they were stuffed and finished, I impressed myself.

I’ve also started swatching for the Knitting Pure and Simple sweater in Patons Ballybrae Black Forest Tweed, a worsted wool in deep navy with tweedy flecks – I found *one skein* in a local store, and they said it had been discontinued – two years ago. Thanks to a request to the knitswap list, not 24 hours later, I’d located someone willing to sell more than enough for my sweater. Now I guess I’ll have to stop haunting the EBay Wool listings and get knitting.

I can’t knit fast enough.

After a loooong session with the knit-and-purl scarf, and a bout of frustration with the seed stitch version of the catnip mouse pattern (I’m sure this is my novice pattern-reading showing through), I have not picked up my knitting in about a week. I want to start something new, but the beginning of the felted tote on DPNs is too intimidating right now. I have asked my knitting mentor nicely for help (to the point where I could be stalking); I may have to simply be patient, or travel to the LYS, and plan on transporting the bag back home on DPNs. Scary! Dropped stitches everywhere!

I’m ready to start Amy’s Suki, but as I told Rob at Threadbear Fiber Arts via e-mail last week when explaining why I could not order the yarn yet, I don’t have room for a stash, and to pace myself, I prefer not to have more than two projects going at once – right now, it’s a mouse and the knit-and-purl scarf that seems it will never end.

So what did I do instead of knit? Read about knitting, and offer to knit things for people – a ribbed stocking cap in merino wool from Hip to Knit for my father-in-law, and the Bob top for my mother-in-law. I have got to be stopped.

But not quite yet. I read the instructions for a simple sock class and I think I’m ready to try it – the pattern uses short rows to shape the heel, and Knitty’s explanation makes short rows seem simple (thanks, Bonne Marie!). I’d love to knit some socks for the Socknitters Children in Common Challenge. Plus, Sock Fest 2004 is coming to Toledo next April, and I plan to be there.

See? More reading and yapping than knitting. Must change that. But before I go, two links you might find handy, particularly if you knitblog with MovableType. Do you get comments? Would you like your readers to be able to follow along with your comment discussions via e-mail? Try the subscribe to comments script from Scriptygoddess. Lots of knitting links crowding your sidebar? Use these tips and templates to make a knitting portal, right inside MovableType. If you have questions about these two, let me know – I’m happy to put down my needles long enough to help.

It’s in the bag.

I went to the LYS intending to get the materials to start the Suki bag; they didn’t really have the colors Amy and I and I picked out at ThreadBear Fiber Arts, so I made a mental note to order there instead. I did, however, come away with yarn for the cute felted tote I had seen earlier (Cascade 220 and a skein of Noro Kureyon for some stripes – ooh!). feltedtote1.jpg Starting the bag has proved more difficult than I thought, between tangling the yarn as I was trying to wind it into a ball (excellent ball-winding directions here) and trying to master Emily Ocker’s circular cast-on (not as hard as it looks) and wrangle size 11 DPNs (pretty darn hard).

The advice from the knitlist was very helpful; I got confirmation that it was okay to try working with four DPNs instead of five, and an alternative method of starting using a waste-yarn crochet cast on thanks to Eileen from Oregon – her help made my day. Best of all, I ran into the woman who taught me how to knit so long ago in the local bookstore yesterday. When I mentioned the totebag, she said “buy me a cup of coffee, and I’d be happy to help you get it started.”

stitchmarkers1.jpg I also got a chance to make my own fancy beaded stitch markers, so I’m ready as ready can be to knit that tote bag in the round. The people at the bead store were amazed that I was able to restrain myself to such a small purchase – I explained I was just crossing over from another craft.

Finally, from the serendipity files, I got an e-mail from a knitlist member with a copy of Aran Knitting for sale at a reasonable price, just like I’d asked for. If Virtual Yarns does reprint the book (as noted in the comments for the last entry), it will be interesting to see if they make revisions to the patterns as they have on the website (offering more sizes, etc.). For now, I’m just amazed that my request to the world at large worked.