Category Archives: gift knitting

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?

A hat in 36 hours.

When we last saw this hat (the Age of Aquarius Hat from Knitter’s Stash), it was September 30, and it was all brim. I had every intention of finishing it, but I wasn’t in a big hurry…until we were invited to a party at the recipient’s house last Sunday. So between Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, I knitted. A lot. And there you go, as easy as falling off a log (and knitting for ten hours, including in the car, on the way to the party). A hat in 36 hours. Who do I think I am, Stephanie? [another photo – sadly, the photo of the back, taken in a hurry was out of focus]. Everyone at the party tried on this hat, and they were impressed with the softness of the yarn and the pleasing shape – the crown is nice and round, avoiding the bullet-head look that many stocking caps give the wearer. I’d make this hat again – it was better than Cats.

So, in spite of my best efforts to stall and start multiple projects, I’m down to three projects on the needles – the Cabled Rib Cardigan, the second Cherry tree Hill sock, and the Lush sweater. More accurately, the Lush sweater is *off* the needles, but only temporarily – I frogged my one and a half pieces and am excited to start again. Taking a step backward was oddly liberating.

I urge you to take a look at the completed Man-Along sweaters; they’re so inspiring! I have not yet finished the Cabled Rib Cardigan, but these sweaters make me want to get knitting!

Does this look like ribbing to you?

In an ingenious move, I swapped a pair of handknit socks for some web design work. While I can move pixels around with the best of them, there’s a darn steep learning curve in designing, and I was more than happy to hand off what I considered the hard work.

I’m making a pair of “Ribtips” socks, pattern courtesy of Rob, a 2×2 rib in Fixation colorway 9880. These socks are helping me confront my Fear of Ribbing. As a relatively new knitter, I feel a certain amount of reassurance when I know I’ve mastered a technique. Whenever I knit ribbing, the first few rows look wonky, leading me to ask questions like “was my cast-on too loose?” or “am I a bad knitter?” however, pressing on yields fine results. See? These were also Knitting in Public – I took them through three airports and one college campus for a conference. By the way, I’d just like you to boggle along with me for a moment – I took these photos with my Palm Pilot. My new Palm Pilot, which has throwaway features like a digital camera, takes better pictures than my digital camera. Which I should just throw away. Ba-dum-bum. Thanks, folks, I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

Bonus link: a (quite beautiful) car covered with yarn.

I should have made the I-cord first.

Much like my trials with the circular cast on, I have now decided that the creation of any serious amount of I-cord is a reason not to do a project. Knit five, slide, knit five, repeat five hundred times. I don’t care that it seemed to go fast when I applied myself (applied…I-cord…get it? Hee.) it was the knitting equivalent of the dentist’s office.

But I soldiered on, producing 5+ feet of I-cord in record time, and now my Booga gift bag is done. There was a recent outbreak of “what’s up with all these felted bags” on knitflame (I think), saying they were heavy and ugly and lots of other words ending in -y. Well, I have to admit that my first felted bag resembled that remark – the fabric is somewhat bulletproof. It’s a handbag for a stylish Secret Service agent.

But the Booga is subtle, delicate yet strong – dare I say minxy? The fabric is soft, light, and the color is beautiful. Even Knit One Purl Too’s Felting quality Control Analyst (my husband), after initial skepticism, liked the Booga very much. Just goes to show you that yarn selection makes all the diffference – you can felt all 100% wool yarns, but you might not want to try each and every one.

Here is what I said to the KnittersWay group by way of introduction – by the time you read this, I will have actually started reading the book:

Hello, knitters –

I’m Donna; I turned 35 this month (make of that what you will; I’ve been
thinking “midlife crisis”), and I’ve been knitting on and off for 3 years, “on”
for the last one.

I love so many things about knitting: the color, the dimensional quality of
making something you can touch, hold and use, the feel of the yarn, the
“puzzle” aspect of putting stitches and pieces in place, the research and
reading about new techniques and patterns – I’m hooked (but I can’t crochet, no pun intended). My reach exceeds my grasp; I have yet to complete my first sweater (mostly because I abandoned the first one out of boredom and
restarted), but I’m already looking toward Aran knitting, Fair Isle and more complex projects.

I might be the exception, but I have no prior exposure to The Artist’s Way save for having heard of it. I wanted to read and work through it with you all
because I’m interested in discovering more about the kind of knitter I am,
beyond the projects I like. My husband is a fine woodworker, and makes
beautiful furniture out of just his ideas and talented hands – I’ve gotten used
to people saying “I can’t believe he can do that” about his work. People have liked my knitting, but I’ve never thought of myself as an artist. Perhaps
instead of asking whether I could be an artist, I should ask what kind of
artist I am.

who promises to start reading tonight

The way of the knitter.

I have a gift to make by Memorial Day weekend, and it’s going well – a Booga Bag for my friend Amy. This is a landmark project for me; when I started knitting again nearly a year ago, I called Amy and said “I want to make you a bag.” We went back and forth via e-mail about what kind, what color..and then other knitting got in the way. But the Booga has cycled around to the head of the list. It’s part of the great purse-along at Wombatty’s and what’s more it’s a stash-busting project because I purchased the Kureyon months ago when we finally picked the color. It feels good to plan something and finally do it. starproject1.gif [this button swiped from Vera]

It also feels good to be able to do it; the biggest difference between my knitting eleven months ago and now is that I have come to appreciate re-doing things as an opportunity to learn more about a given technique. I tried picking up stitches three times for the bag – each time it got better, and I could see why it was better. How about that? Here’s a closeup to celebrate:
Instead of a knitter who gets from point A to point B by the skin of her teeth, I’m becoming a “process knitter”. To better develop my appreciation for the art of knitting, I’ve signed up for Knitter’s Way a Yahoo Group that will read and discuss Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way in knitting terms. Am I an artist? Hmmm. Not like this. But I want to be the most creative knitter I can be.

Swatch, and swatch again.

Here it is [this photo is gone – sorry], calmly drying after blocking. You wouldn’t know it to look at this, but making a 6-inch swatch out of cotton is harder than it looks; [this photo is gone too – sorry] particularly if you measure wrong and make an 8-inch swatch instead. My gauge swatch for this project turned out to be larger than the project itself! But it was a handy lesson in the value of swatching (note to self: buy new, more accurate knitting gauge ruler).

This was a seed stitch using Bernat Cottontots in Sunshine. The seed stitch slowed me down, but turned out to be excellent practice for knitting, purling – and frogging – mistakes were easy to spot. The other lesson learned? Buy a yarn that feels good wound up – the texture won’t improve when it’s knitted. The Cottontots is 100% cotton and also feels lovely to work with; I think this may also be a lesson in not buying the most inexpensive yarn you see – all yarns are obviously not created equal.

Off to France with you – a tout vitesse!

Newsflash: Cotton knits like wire.

I made the mistake of tossing Becky’s swatch project into my travel bag as we left on vacation Thursday. I volunteered to make a 6-inch swatch for her because I was making a 5-inch swatch for the Wonton, and how hard could that extra inch be?

Knitting with cotton is like knitting with wire. It doesn’t give at all; there’s no wiggle, no slide. I picked out some 4-ply varigated Sugar and Cream cotton and thought I’d try a seed stitch. My seed stitch on size 8 needles looks like I’m knitting the world’s tiniest macrame plant holder – you know what I mean. Not graceful, just crafty. I needed a much thinner yarn, and the swatch deadline is almost here! I’ll have to work fast to produce something merely presentable. The moral of our story may be “find out more about your material before you blindly volunteer,” but I’m going to try again tomorrow – I’m not giving up yet!

In other news, after seeing Stepmom again on motel TV, I’m in the mood to make a Stepmom hat, and I can report that I thought Knitting Without Tears was delightful. See? I did do something good with my vacation after all.