25 August 2006

Knitting Techniques
(*picture heavy post)

I haven't done much knitting the last few days but I have been reading about knitting. As I've been looking at some patterns and reading other people's experiences with them, I realized that I don't know enough about technique. Now, I can (usually) follow directions and get something that looks roughly like the picture that goes with the pattern. By reading blogs of those who know more than me, I have been humbled by the way other knitters just seem to know things--things like how to make jogless stripes in a sweater knit in the round, tips about when to bind off for a neck, when you want to put the stitches on a stitch holder, variations on left-leaning and right-leaning decreases, the way that different increases can be used as design features, and (the truly impressive) adding short rows and still maintaining the pattern.

According to some of the knitting books I've read (a few of EZ's books and currently reading Knitting in Plain English), once you know how to knit and purl, you are free to try anything. Actually, Righetti explains how once you understand how to do a knit stitch you are set to go. Well, when I first learned to knit that was essentially what my friend said. She started me off on a sweater, pictured below:

I only knew how to knit English, so I just held strands of all the colors in my right hand and just used whatever color was needed for a particular stitch. I didn't know about tacking the floats down every 3 or 4 stitches so I just carried along until I needed the color. Here are a couple of pics of the inside of the yoke:


I knew nothing about gauge and didn't own a tape measure, so I "eye-balled" the lengths--not good. The finished sweater, from neck band to the bottom is 30.5 inches. At first, I considered giving this to my boyfriend at the time who was over 6 feet tall (I knew nothing about the boyfriend sweater curse at that time). When he showed little interest in it, I decided to keep it. Let us just say that the few times I wore it, it came down to about mid-thigh. However, I went to school in the south so I only got a chance to wear it about twice a year, on the coldest days with leggings.

One of the main problems with this sweater (beyond the fact that it is waaaay too big):

That's right, I knit the ribbing on one sleeve tighter than the other. Even for me, that tight ribbing makes it hard to wear it comfortably. Also, I knew nothing about blocking so after I finished the sweater I took it to get dry-cleaned. I knew enough not to wash it like normal laundry since it was made from wool but not enough to avoid the dry-cleaner. It came back with a ton of pills. I was so upset that I took it back. I made the dry-cleaner cut off the pills but it has never been quite as smooth since.

At some point I should just recycle the yarn (felted bag?) but the sentimental value as my first knit project has stopped me. Now that I live in Florida, and have made many other knit items, I think I may be able to part with it.

Thinking I knew everything I needed to know about knitting (oh the arrogance of youth), my second project was a sweater for my mom. Now, over 10 years later, it is still not done.

the front:

the back:

one sleeve where you can barely make out the eyelet pattern (I'm not sure who told me that it was best to make them at the same time but they are both on the needle):

Again, I didn't have a tape measure so the back and front measure a mere 16.5 inches from the shoulder to the bottom. Granted, it is supposed to have a crocheted bottom edge, and cropped, boxy sweaters were much more in fashion back then but it is still too short. At a minimum, I should have made the large size for my mom just because this would have been too small for her taste anyway.

I did both with just the knowledge of how to knit and purl and how to read directions. In retrospect, I really needed some more basic information on finishing and the correct way to seam projects, information you can get from a good "learn to knit" book. Not that my lack of finesse has stopped me from continuing on my knitting journey. :-)

I have started reading some "standard" knitting books and blogs entries on techniques to get a clue. The phoney seams that EZ describes, genius. The personal research that Nona does on different knitting techniques, riveting. I can't say enough about Eunny's descriptions of how to master lace, steeks, grafting, and cables. (As soon as her techniques book is available, I am going to run right out and get it.) I already have a rather frightening queue of projects, but now I have additional projects that I want to try just to practice techniques.

Needless to say, I am going back to my reading and research.

17 August 2006


As the deadline for the One Skein Secret Pal nears, I felt like I really needed to just focus on the Dream Swatch project. Unfortunately, once I got the hang of crossing the stitches, the pattern got a little...well, boring. Now don't get me wrong, I think the finished product is pretty cool and the bamboo yarn was lovely. However, its a long time to be repeating the same six rows, not to mention its only 30 stitches wide so it was hard to get into a real knitting rhythm before it was time to cross stitches again. I would make this again but I would probably vary the rows of stockinette and possibly the number of stitches that get crossed.

Here it is blocking:

That's right, it is the same length as the queen size bed (aka blocking board). It really does look very pretty, here's a close-up:

Now, some time ago I mentioned getting some hemp/cotton yarn from a coop. After doing some swatching and looking at patterns, nothing is calling to me. I bought this from the coop because they needed more people to buy yarn to make the purchasing minimums. Its not really next-to-the-skin soft and most people have been making market bags out of it. However, its not really what I wanted so I'm hoping to trade it for something else.

Pics of the 10 skeins up for trade, each skein is 4 oz, 250 yds:

One skein was used for swatching, I am happy to include that bit of yarn as well since you can then undo it and re-knit to figure out your own gauge. (I think I got about 4.5 stitches per inch on size 8 needles.) It is the hemp/cotton yarn from Hemp Traders in natural. The color in the picture is a little washed out because its overcast outside. (Genny is already in hiding in preparation for the thunderstorm that is threatening.) The color in this swatch is a little better.

Oh yeah, remember that poncho I started for my niece? Apparently, ponchos are out so I frogged it and am going to use the yarn to test out the pattern for the Box-Lace Shawl from Folk Shawls. It is an acrylic yarn so I'm thinking this will be used as a throw. If its cute enough after its done, it might still go to one of the nieces for Christmas. I'll post a pic once I have more than two rows of garter stitch.

For your viewing pleasure, I leave you with a few cute photos of the doggies.

Genny and Cam laying down on the same bed after I told them it was time for bed.

Genny in her favorite safe place, peaking out from under the bed:

02 August 2006

The latest (and not so much the greatest)

For those of you keeping track, the Alene camisole has been frogged. After I blocked and seamed the top portion of the camisole, I realized that it was way too big. Although Trillian noted that I could probably block it smaller, it would have meant that it would stretch out way too much once I wore it. Seeing as how it was supposed to be a flirty camisole, that would not have worked. I still want to make it but I haven't been able to bring myself to cast on again.

I'm knitting along on the current WIPs but nothing is really grabbing me so I'm only making the most minimal progress. I'm totally itching to start something new but I'm afraid that it could spell trouble for the current projects. Because I've got quite a queue of projects, I want to actually finish some things before I start new ones. Then I saw Eunny's contribution for the winter IK, and now I know I need to get moving on that list because I totally want to make it for me. (Anyone know where I can start stocking up on Jamieson's Spindrift/Jumper weight wool in preparation for this project?)

On a side note, I like to cruise around the knitting blogs. This post by Crazy Aunt Purl cracked me up. Hubby's been saying "snakes on a plane" at random times just to get me to laugh.