Sunday, September 14, 2008

Baby Buddies


Knitting for babies is new for me. But dear friends are having babies left and right! So my first adventure has been knitting for the new born twins of a friend from work. I started out with berets for the little girls... but they seemed too small. So I found some toys that I knew would fit.

These Blanket Buddies are knit from Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora. It's a nice soft, but strong yarn. And the angled blanket part is very easy to knit. Then you knit the head with double knitting so that you have a pocket. I stuffed it with cotton batting. My favorite part was the bunny ears. The pattern is pretty cute, giving subtle shape to the floppy ears!

But my friend doesn't want matching things for her babies, so I needed to make something different for the second toy. I was on my own for the ears. And it shows. The bear (?) ears are a little blocky, and they are finished pretty poorly. Hopefully Isabel will gum that ear out of shape pretty quickly and no one will know that it wasn't knit too well! :)

This is my first attempt at toys and I had no idea how to add details to them! It took a lot of experimenting, but it was fun. I had a bunch of embellishments from the fabric store that I scrambled through to find eyes and mouths. The bear's eyes are a little strange... they are from a 60's style pattern trim which I thought was pretty cool. My friend is pretty funky, so I don't think she'll mind the odd expression on the bear. I couldn't find an elegant solution for the mouths... so I opted for noses instead!

This was a good motivator to take some crochet lessons.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Starting Again, Oblique

I continue to love the Oblique pattern. I had a hard time with the lace, as usual, until the elbow of the first sleeve. Then it clicked! And I didn't need to read the pattern for every row anymore. Such satisfaction.

But when I got about 3/4 done with the sleeve I hesitated. It is really large. I'm worried about the sleeves being too bulky. They are twice the thickness of my arm. And I'm not a twiggy girl. Baggy sleeves might be cute on tiny women, but I think I need to try to be sleek.

So... I'm starting sleeve #1 over again, removing most of the seed stitch from the edges (underarm). This will make it knit up much faster and I won't feel baggy in this comfy sweater. I hope this is the right move! I'm worried about how I will get the stitch count right for joining to the shoulder... but I'll cross that bridge in a few weeks when I'm ready and I've read up on some Raglan shaping advice.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Marshmallow experiments

I'm excited about making the perfect marshmallows at home. For some reason their fluffy, mushiness is really compelling. And for some reason I'm more interested in the cooking of them than in the eating of them. But they are really fun to eat.

I'm starting this this recipe from Homeschoolzone.com because it has very explicit instructions (for kids).

Ingredients:
2 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
  1. Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in an electric mixer with whisk attachment (you can whisk by hand if you do not have the attachment). Let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small, heavy,saucepan; place over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.
  3. Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high. Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches the firm-ball stage (244 degrees). Immediately remove pan from heat.
  4. With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla; beat to incorporate.
  5. Generously dust an 8 by12 inch glass baking pan with confectioner's sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan. Dust top with confectioners' sugar; wet hands and pat it smooth. Dust with confectioners' sugar; let stand overnight, uncovered, to dry out. Turn out onto board and cut marshmallows with a dry hot knife into 1 1/2 inch squares, and dust with more sugar.
I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wrangling with the Sweater Machine

This yarn, Rowan Scottish Tweed 4 ply is interesting. I love the fabric that is made from this thin, rough, nubby wool... but it doesn't flow over my hand needles. It catches on itself and all pleasure of knitting is lost. I threw away my first swatch with this yarn because I hated knitting with it so much. But I loved the color, and I had bought 8 balls, so I tried it out on the Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine. Thank goodness the Bond could handle it! And on keyplate 3 (equivalent to about a size 8 needle) The Bond gives me a remarkable fabric that is thin but stiff, rough but delicate. I can't wait to get the second piece off my needle so that I can stitches up the sides, pick up and knit the ribbing around the bottom, pick up and knit two short sleeves... and have the perfect Autumn vest!

I think of my sweater machine as more similar to a sewing machine than to hand-knitting. Yes, I get to use my knitting yarn to make things on it, but it really is a garment-making device. You craft sheets of fabric is specific shapes to join together into bigger creations. I can work at the sweater machine all day and still have a desire to sit and hand knit for an hour or so, to have that tactile interaction. I find that I am more adventurous with designing my own pieces with the Bond because it takes only a few hours to knit up a test piece... the whole front or a whole sleeve. But the pieces have to be fairly simple in their design because fiddling with the needles to make anything other than stockinette is annoying. But the pattern on the piece shown here is pretty simple, every 8th row every other stitch is moved to the right. Every 10th row every other stitch is moved to the left. There is a counter attached to the needle bed to help me count the rows.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bramble On, again!

Wow, I can't believe how unimaginative I am sometimes. When it comes to making scarves for men, there is only one scarf I feel confident in. This Bramble Stitch scarf is my go-to. And I love it. The subtle bumps make a nice geometric pattern, more like a texture than a bobble. And the wrong side is a nice, flat linen-like stitch that is perfectly presentable. No fringe needed. Plus it's fun and easy to knit. Total in-front-of-the-tv material. Even stitch-n-bitch worthy. And this is two evening's worth of knitting and I'm about 1/4 finished.

I've made at LEAST 4 of these scarves already, each with very different yarns. It worked nicely in the Mountain Colors Merino Ribbon yarn for a lacy effect, but I do like it most in a nice thick wool. This is Valley Yarns' Stockbridge 50/50 Alpaca and Wool. I'm pretty excited about Alpaca right now.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oblique on the Caltrain

I was inspired by something Brenda Dane said on a podcast a while back (I'm behind on all my podcasts). She was talking about Elizabeth Zimmerman and remarked on how lovely her writing was, especially because EZ writes about her knitting life, or her life in knitting. So I woudl like to try to write posts that describe how knitting exists in my daily life. It does play a large role.

This month I am commuting up to my company's San Francisco office by Caltrain every day. I try not to drive, PRIMARILY so that I can have the time to knit. It's about 40 minutes of knitting time, and I can be focused, so I take a complicated project. Right now (and probably for many years to come) I am working my way through Veronik Avery's Oblique. It's such a beautiful cardigan with lovely, structural lace panels.

I'm not great with lace, so I am concentrating very hard to get it right. The 8 inches I have completed on the sleeve here have taken me 1 week. I started with the sleeve so that I could feel in control of the lace patterns before starting the body. I'm glad I did. The sleeve is small enough that I can get the rhythm of the laces, without the stress of making it across 100 stitches. And my confidence is building.

I imagine that this sweater is going to be something I wear for years. Classic color, classic, durable yarn and a classic (not trendy) design. So it's okay if it takes me years to complete.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Is knitting your casual gaming?

Casual games are hugely popular but underrated. Think Solitare or Mind Sweeper, if you owned a desktop computer in your life. But studies show they are "anything but casual." They are an escape from a hectic day, a way to relax and decompress without the pressures of everything else in your life.

I used to play "Bejewled" while listening to "This American Life" to relax. Now I knit while listening to "Stash and Burn" and "Knit Science." And it feels so good. Knitting is what I do to relax. and it makes me feel good. It is my casual game.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sweater Love.

Oh dear, I came home from my business trip last night and I deeply wanted a home knitting project. I wanted something big and meaty, something I could only do on the couch... and I found Veronik Avery's Oblique in my queue, and Berroco Ultra Alpaca in my stash from a Web's sale... and I swatched. It's so beautiful! I guess I have learned that I am someone who will always want to have a sweater going. Since making Paul's gigantic sweater, I've become quite fond of having something big and complicated on the couch with me. I wouldn't have expected that I would be drawn to a slouchy, comfy cardigan in lace... but after staring at it for a few minutes, I saw it's true beauty. And I thought about it as I fell asleep last night.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

This experiment worked! Orange Ginger Mint Sorbet

Well, I said I would post the recipe if I liked the end result, and I really do. This sorbet turned out flavorful and soft. The orange pulp adds a really nice texture. Often I don't like sorbet if it is just icy, but the orange pulps makes this toothy. The sorbet is inspired by and named after my favorite tea, from Republic of Tea, but I fear they aren't making it any more! So at least I have dessert. I don't have an ice cream maker, so this recipe just requires a blender and a plastic container with a lid for the freezer.

Here is my recipe:

Orange Ginger Mint Sorbet
Recipe by Hillary Carey


1 large bunch of mint leaves
1 cup sugar
2 strong ginger tea bags
8 small oranges (yield 3 cups orange pulp)
2 egg whites (optional)
dash Compari (optional)

1. Tear mint into small pieces and place in medium sauce pan (not over heat). Sprinkle sugar over the leaves and muddle while dry.

2. Steep ginger tea bags together in 1 cup boiling water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags. Pour hot ginger tea over mint and sugar. Bring mixture to a boil to dissolve sugar. Boil for only 20 seconds. Turn off heat and let cool.

3. Remove the flesh from oranges, being careful to remove seeds. Roughly chop. Place in blender and puree until the consistency of very pulpy orange juice. Add ginger mint syrup and blend to combine.

4. Whip 2 egg whites to soft peaks. Fold orange mixture into egg whites gently into the freezing container such as a large Tupperware container. Add a dash of Compari to help with soft-freeze.

5. Stir mixture every few hours to help with soft-freeze. Let freeze for 6 hours. Scoop and enjoy!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Girl Knits in Brooklyn

After wandering through the jewelry and t-shirt shops of Brooklyn Heights, and finding myself in the lesser of the two yarn shops in Brooklyn, I relied on Yelp.com to get me to a delicious spot for lunch. I found myself with a grilled cheese panini and lemonade in the back yard of the Flying Saucer Cafe. It was perfect. Having lived all of my early life on the East Coast, sitting in this backyard felt like home again. I worked on my Tyrolean Stocking and enjoyed my Adirondack chair in the shade.

Who is Stealing Yarn?


After a week of working in New York, I took a day to explore Brooklyn for the first time. Ok, this was not entirely free of thoughts of spotting BrooklynTweed on the streets or in the shops. So of course I used the yarn shops as anchor points. KnitMap.com doesn't work well for the Brookyln area, at least I couldn't get it to find any shop... but be a Silicon Valley-centric thing, because it's great for the West Coast yarn shops. So I relied on the reviews from Google Maps. I made my way toward Knit-A-Way on Atlantic Ave.

This shop was so strange! First of all, the beautiful old storefront is marred with SEVERAL signs about shoplifters. How many people in Brooklyn steal yarn? Many apparently. And then when I walked inside he woman at the counter was on the phone talking intimately about how she was too hot/cold at night to sleep comfortably with her husband. She mentioned doctors, sweat, blankets, the whole shabang. This was what I was listening to as I perused the largest wall of needles I have ever seen. Want a choice of any size needle in bamboo, wood or metal? This is your place. I continued to listen as I wandered past the cashmere yarn (BEHIND GLASS!) and then on to the long wall of acrylic yarns. Finally, I have seen Vanna's Choice in person.

There were actually some really lovely yarns in the mix. Some dark gray wools that I wish I had bought. And an interesting purple yarn that I justified buying by claiming it could be used for one of the many baby sweaters I need to knit. The yarn is Classic Elite Bazic Wool and it has a very cool twist to it, so I'm curious to see how it knits up. I expect it to have a stiffer, bumpier texture in stockinette than a regular wool.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Things should be experimental


This weekend was blissfully domestic for me. I have very few responsibilities at home, not being a parent or caretaker... so weekends when I actually stay home and take care of things are rare and, sorry, if planned correctly, delightful.

On Saturday this weekend I met my dear knitter friends for an afternoon of knitting. It was lovely. Granted, I arrived with a quarter of a sweater completed and left with nothing-- they helped me to realize I needed to rip back the Wonder sweater (shown below) completely because it was too big... but, actually, it was OK. I think I feel at peace with this because it's better to find out your work is too big than too small, because then you have to think about needing more yarn and how it will take so much more time. But when a garment is too big... then you start over and it will be faster to knit this time, and it will take less yarn! :)

Saturday evening I did a deep dive into Whole Foods to find interesting foods to tackle two recipes I have been wanting to try for awhile. I started with Turkey Kibbe Kebabs from Food & Wine, June 2006. I really enjoyed the Parsley, Lemon and Walnut sauce that went with this grilled middle eastern dinner. But I probably won't make it again, it was so much work for something unspectacular. And then, because I LOVE trying weird cooking techniques, especially those having to do with meringues or gelatin, I made Greek Salad with Feta Mousse. That was delicious and really cool to make the creamy feta-flavored fluff.

And now it is Sunday. After a soul-nourishing trip to the farmer's market which reminds me of how good life is, I came home with a pile of ingredient for food and drink experiments. I have been wanting to make some Campari-like beverage using orange peels... just because. I don't even drink liqueurs very often, but they intrigue me! So I bought oranges to peel and caraway seeds to add to coffee beans and vanilla beans to stir into gin. I will let it sit for months to see if tastes good. I'll let you know. It's just an experiment.

But even better is what the orange peels led me to. I couldn't throw away the insides of so many oranges! So I thought about making sorbet. And because I had also just bought several bunches of mint and had watched someone on foodTV make mint syrup, I concocted a plan to make Orange Ginger Mint sorbet, after my very favorite tea from Republic of Tea. I'm not even sure they make it anymore, it's so hard to find. But I thought it would be a great balance of flavors.

I will post the recipe later this week if it turn out that the sorbet is delicious.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Money where my mouth is

I'm trying out my theory that non-wool yarns will be more flattering for me. I bought a STACK of light gray cotton yarn at The Knitter's Studio sale along with this Rowan magazine. This sweater, "Wonder" could hopefully be a summer staple for me. I can't wait to see how this thick cotton yarn drapes.

I'm adding waist-shaping to this loose cardigan, hopefully achieving my hour-glass but not clingy goal. I'm also knitting the front-back-front all at once way with a false seam, suggested by Elizabeth Zimmerman. That way I won't have to keep track of my modifications and all of the parts will line up! I'm saving the sleeves for last, which is not my normal approach, but that will allow me to see how much yarn I have left, and I'll make the sleeve accordingly. If I have to make 3/4 sleeves, that will be fine for a summer sweater.

I don't knwo if I have EVER used the yarn suggested by a pattern, I am always substituting. So I am always in fear of running out! I bought 20 balls of yarn, but the balls are small. I can only get about 10 rows of the front-back-front done with one ball-- can you imagine? I want it to be somewhat long, probably hit just below my bottom, so I'll sacrifice sleeve-length for butt length if I have to.

And really, doesn't this Rowan sweater just remind you of the famous Drops Jacket? I was planning to make that last winter but didn't finish Paul's sweater in time, so now I'm making the summer version!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Epiphany: Yarn

I think about knitting a lot. Lying in bed at night, waking up in the morning, when I'm bored at work, when I'm knitting... Actually not that much when I'm knitting-- then I'm usually doing something else. Time for one of those meditation books I guess. That wasn't my point, actually.

My point is, I think about knitting a lot but I hadn't realized the connection between the types of sweaters I like to wear and the types of yarns I'm choosing.

I fear clingy sweaters.

I get a bit self-conscious with sweaters that cling around my waist or bust, so the sweaters that I wear over and over again, that I didn't knit, are the ones that are hour-glass shaped but don't cling. And it has taken me a lot of thinking to realize that those are sweaters that are NOT made of pure wool. My black cabled cardigan is made of a soft, thick, heavy cotton and I wear it year round. My favorite winter sweater which has gone missing, it was likely accidentally donated to Goodwill in a mad cleaning frenzy (please enjoy!), must have been a mix of wool and silk because it's cables lay very flat and it held it's shape, rather than having an elasticity.

But elasticity was something I was always looking for in the yarn I bought for sweaters! It means that it will be a joy to knit with and will block out all of my inconsistencies. I love to knit with pure wool because it feels good and is a moderate price.

But my epiphany tells me that if I am going to knit a sweater that I love and feel comfortable in, I may need to begin exploring other fibers. I'm going to have to choose fiber content first, then color-- which is the opposite way I've been approaching things. I think a trip to ArtFibers in San Francisco would really help. I might need a tour around the fibers available with my new eyes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Koolaid Dying Fun!


Several women form my stitchnbitch group got together to try out this Koolaid dying. And it was a blast. So easy, and the colors are so vibrant. I loved it! I can't wait to do more.

My yarn did not turn out the way I expected it to, the way I planned it to. So I couldn't WAIT for it to dry so that I could wind it up and see what it would look like in a ball. Because it was terribly ugly as a skein. Just big blotches of color in awkward stripes.

But as a ball... as a ball of yarn it is subtly varigated through every color of the rainbow, with unexpected jumps from red to blue to orange. I love it. I am so relieved. I might even pick this ball up in a store and think, "nice." But... I probably wouldn't buy it. I am never drawn to brightly colored, multi-colored yarns. But this one I'll keep. It will make a nice something for a child.

How quickly will my next batch of natural yarn get here?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pull, Don't Push the UFOs


This has nothing to do with whether you are a "thrower" or not (I'm a thrower). It's about motivation. I am notorious in my knitting group for starting lots of projects. Which inevitably means I don't FINISH a lot of projects. And I tend to feel guilty about this. But the lovely ladies over at Stash and Burn have been talking over the past few months about knitting as PLEASURE! We have to remind ourselves that this is a hobby, a pastime for pleasure. So why would we feel guilty?

I pledge to take a new approach to my UFOs.
I will not force myself to finish anything. I will let it sit until I feel a pull. I know that if the project is good I will feel a pull to finish it. Something will re-inspire.

For example, my Chevron Scarf. That scarf is so fine and needs to be so long, that I finally lost momentum. I got distracted with other small projects, with only about 12 inches to go. But then a woman at work walked in wearing a colorful necklace, it was lovely. And I thought, "My Chevron Scarf could act as an accessory like that. I want to finish it." There is my pull.

No need to push yourself to finish things, let them rest until you are called to them again.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Knitted Pieces

This artist has chosen many media to make her statements in. I am biased, but I think the knitting is the most touching.

I am on the cusp of becoming ready to figure out how to knit freeform structures. It will happen someday. I can feel it. In my aorta.

http://www.sarahillenberger.com/news_sz.html

Airplanes are for complicated socks


I wonder how many weeks it would have taken me to get this far on this complicated cabled, Tyrolean Stocking, if I hadn't had a flight from coast to coast this week. I really *should* have taken my Chevron Scarf, and might have actually finished it with 8 hours of dedicated time. But I was dreading the boredom of being trapped in an airplane, so I took a new project that was sure to keep me interested. And it did!

This is the perfect airplane project because it's small, with small needles. You only need ot bring one skein with you for a week's worth of knitting. It's satisfying because progress is very visible. And the rows set themselves up and you don't need to read the instructions after a few repeats. But if you bring the instructions in the Interweave Magazine, then when your hands get tired you just read the knitting articles to rest. Perfect!

Some people do work when they fly, not wanting to waste the workday... but I can't stomach that too often. Flying to New York from San Francisco is inconvenient enough. I like to have some part of it to enjoy. Knowing I was going to tackle the Tyrolean Stocking made me *almost* look forward to the flight! Thanks Ann Budd!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sweater Quantities or Bust?



Is it wrong to split up sweater quantities? I have this wonderful yarn from The Knittery in Australia. It's natural gray, soft, smooth, worsted weight. I love it. I have enough for another (I am working on Paul's sweater now and will have enough left over) sweater. But I want to make those Tyrolean Stockings from Interweave with it. It will be warm, not scratchy. They will look like a fisherman's sweater. It's perfect. But is it wrong to break up the 8 balls I will have, forcing me to use this yarn in small batches, rather than the rare sweater potential that is there. It seems wrong.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Valentina Devine's Class: Stitches Saturday


The Creative Knitting class with Valentina Devine was pretty inspiring on Saturday. I had actually been expecting to knit organic shapes but the course description was wrong. So ShiTri and I ended up taking a full day class on log-cabin type knitting. It was ok, not as interesting as I was expecting, but I was inspired.

I'm a fan of the simple.
But I ended up combining yarns that I never would have thought to put together, and I liked the results. I probably need more push to be adventurous like that... there are opportunities for interesting burst of texture and color.

Also pushing my comfort zone: I learned to embellish with little crochet nubs on the surface of the garter stitch and I liked the result. I would not have expected to be an embellishment fan :) Though when Paul saw them he thought they were mistakes... sigh.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stitches is Coming!

I can't wait to spend the weekend enveloped in knitting! I have a full day class on Saturday -- Creative Knitting-- and a half day class on Sunday -- 7 Things to Make or Break a Sweater--. When will I have time to shop?

I am kind of hoping I can resist buying yarn because I don't have anything I need right now and I don't have the eyes to see yarns I can't get anywhere else. I'll just assume everything is available at my local yarn shops.

But the one thing that I know I won't be able to resist are the very cool fibers from Habu. I bought a skein of raw silk yarn 2 years ago and I loved it. Though it was really difficult to knit with and I made a lot of mistakes in my simple scarf. If they have something new that will make an incredible scarf I imagine I'll end up carrying it home.

Bramble On, my favorite


I'm not sure why, but this is my "go to" scarf pattern. It's just a stitch pattern I liked from the "Stitch a Day" calendar, with some garter on the side. I love the semi-bobbles in their neat little diagnols. It's very easy to memorize so I can take it everywhere with me without having to pay much attention. And in my opinion it's wearable for men and women. I love it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I just can't hide it: Norah Gaughan on Flickr!


ohhhh, I was so excited to find Norah Gaughan of "Knitting Nature" brilliance on Flickr! You can see that she is even more creative with her knitting outside of her published patterns. It's so joyful to have this hidden connection to her.

But actually, I hope she doesn't look at my photos! She'll see what an amateur I am! And what if I knit one of her patterns and it comes out badly-- oh no!
Eh, she doesn't have time to look at my photos... :)

I [heart] Flickr for this. Thank you Flickr!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm getting a little obsessed

I was walking to work this morning, listening to the Knitgrrl podcast and I saw this on the sidewalk. And my first thought-- my FIRST thought, was that it would be a great design for a sweater. I'm getting a little obsessed.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

One finished object, hahahahaaaa!


I finished something! Yay! Of course it was a one-skein, but who's counting? It was supposed to be Urchin from Knitty.com

This is a gift for a friend who has been... let's say, "under the weather."

I hope she'll love the simplicity of it. And the beautiful feel of the yarn. It's so difficult for me to knit gifts for friends because I just don't know what they're expecting. Nice yarn should always be appreciated, I think. So that can help. But what if the item isn't perfect? How perfect does something need to be to be a good gift?

Here are my hypotheses:
- Good friends understand if you need to weave the ends back in every time you see them.

- Good people appreciate the little signals that a garment is hand made. They don't want perfection.

- Acquaintances want it to look like it came from The Gap. So I generally don't waste my time and yarn knitting for them.


What do you think?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I love starting projects!



Much more than I love finishing them.
Sigh.

The best part of knitting for me in designing things in my head. Imagining the garments. Combing yarns and patterns. I love it!

The knitting part is nice. Really nice. It's quite enjoyable.
But it's not as much fun as starting a new project. :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Stash Happens

Ok. So I' trying to be good. Not buy wasteful yarn purchases because I do have several shelves of yarn already. Not so much as those ladies over at Stash and Burn, but more than a sweater's worth... more than three sweaters worth. And several socks, and several scarves and some hideous fuzzy acrylic somethings.

Still, right under my nose, I see my stash growing. And here is why:

1. I bought the yarn to make the Drops Jacket. And that was going to be the ONE sweater I would knit for myself this winter. I was SURE it was the item I wanted most. I was SURE I coudl knit it quickly. I was SURE to buy yarn that I would really love (Manos). And here it is February and I haven't finished the boyfriend sweater I wanted to make for my boyfriend's August birthday (last August). So really, does one begin knitting a winter jacket in February? What if I don't even like it by the time it gets cold next winter. Oh, I should point out that I live in California, so by the end of February the daytime temperature will return to 70degrees.

2. I was sick this week so I panicked and started 3 more projects. I wandered into the LYS in a delirium and bought yarn for 3 gifts I would like to make in February. But really, will I get those knitted? Probably not. The yarn will sit in my stash until I find something more realistic that fits within my abilities.

3. Knit Pick's shipping policy. You know what I'm talking about. What did we all think when we saw they raised their minimum purchase amount for free shipping? "Thank Goodness! Now we'll stop buying extra yarn just to get free shipping!"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Attention


Two things have caught my attention as I've been browsing through knitting materials... something I am constantly doing.

Kim Hargreaves as a designer is fantastic. She had been a designer for many years at Rowan and is now on her own. Her patterns are a bit hard to find, and the site isn't easy to browse through, but I love the projects. They are fashionable and reasonable and seem to take full advantage of the beauty of knitted things. I want to order her book and the kit for Blithe as soon as I get a few Active Objects off my needles.

And in yarn, I picked up a spontaneous purchase at my local yarn shop, Rowan Cocoon. It is so beautiful! It is like the spun silk of a cocoon. It is shiny and smooth, a bit more like hair than wool. It's amazing. It would be so wonderful to have a sweater in it. But for my yarn diet, I'm starting with a hat. If I still love it next month, and I can resist buying crazy yarns at Stitches West, then maybe I will allow myself to buy enough for a cardigan!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Focusing



I created a workstation at home to bring my knitting and sewing stuff together. For the past few years I have been dabbling in knitting, I guess mainly as a social thing, and something to do with my hands. But this year I'm ready to focus on getting "good." I want to take this more seriously. Learn to sew well, learn to knit anything and everything. Learn the science of both.

Two podcasts are helping me:
Stash and Burn reminds me to learn the names of the most lust-after yarns... and has me considering a knitting machine.

Knit Science helps me focus on the details of knitting. Miriam uses each podcast to describe the techniques or science behind different aspects of knitting. The gauge episode really inspired me to be more careful.

And I picked up a copy of "Knitting in Plain English" at my local used bookstore. I didn't know much about it, but it was one of the few books they had on knitting so I grabbed it. I love it! By page 2 I had learned something.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Active Objects (on the needles)

I am definitely one of those crazy knitters who starts new projects constantly. I have many things "on needles" causing me to have many needles. I'm not sure which is the stronger pull: losing interest for something once I have a few rows done or gaining interest for new yarns or patterns or gifts!

But, since August of 2007 I have been much more constrained and it has been an interesting experience. I started a boyfriend sweater for my size XL boyfriend. His birthday is August 3 and I started it as his gift. Which meant I felt guilty and have wanted to get it done as soon as possible. I was completely dedicated to the sweater through August. Making big progress on a big sweater. But the garter stitch was sucking up yarn. In September my eyes first started to wander... to a beret that would be so much more portable on airplanes. But mostly I worked on the sweater. Finishing the beret on flights, only.

Then at the end of September I tried the sweater on him-- at this point it had all the parts of a vest. And it was MUCH to big. I was devastated. All that work and it was a horrible mess. So I started a Chevron Scarf to console myself. So nice and small and guaranteed to work.

After a week or two I started the sweater again. With less vigor. So I work on the Chevron scarf sometimes and the sweater more often, but not all the time. And in December I hit a great milestone in the sweater where I could try it on him and see that it was fitting. I could also see the end in sight, which boosted my excitement. I'm making good progress now.

But then a friend of mine told me he's moving from my coast to the east coast. And I thought it woudl be great to send him with a scarf in February. So I put aside my Chevron scarf and started a Bramble scarf for him. I think I'm allowed one nice portable project in my purse and the boyfriend sweter at home on the couch.

But truthfully, one other project is active on my needles. i don't know how that happened! At some point I decided to frog a scarf that I made last year with the most beautiful yarn I have ever owned... and make a pair of fingerless gloves. So I work on those sometimes too.

4 active projects, with priorities.
I think that's ok. It might be the perfect amount for a wandering knitter. It seems to be enough to keep me interested and always have something to knit, but also small focused enough that I will actually finish things.

I hope!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Maybe this will help: I have a pink soul


The emotional part is right. I hope that shows through in my knitting philosophy. But really, I think I'm too practical about what I knit. I don't go after the most beautiful things if they are expenise or not useful... but there is emotion in that, right?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Inspiration: Your Knitting Philosophy

I've found a topic I think I can tackle. Knitting Philosophy. Personal Knitting Philosophy.


I love the idea of helping other people identify their knitting philosophy. It's a bit like what I do at work, but better. At work i listen to what people say about themselves, as experts on their own personal thing and turn that into an insight to inspire design!



In this process I'll work through my own personal knitting philosophy. Because I know I have some habits that stick with me, even though I don't really intend it. Like being frugal. I don't really mean to be frugal with yarn, but I can't help it. I have to be practical about things. And it shows in my work... And, I never buy the yarn the pattern calls for. That's for a few reasons. I don't want my F.O. to look just like someone else's F.O.-- what's the point to that? I might as well just buy something then. I want to be surprised! But it's also because I'm frugal and the pattern yarns are usually expensive!



But I've got more contemplating to do before I can really decide what motivates my knitting. And more conversations with the knitters around me.



Stay tuned!