My Favorite Things…November

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This month’s motif is pulled from one of my first attempts at both color work and hand warmers.  I’m not sure I still have the hand warmers to be honest.  I was still newer to knitting then, getting used to the craft after a long time, so I was just working with what I had.  This meant that the hand warmers ended up too big.  It is also when I was still working with not as nice acrylic yarn from the craft store.  I have nothing against acrylic because for many people it is their only option, but now that I have found some nicer yarns, I can’t go back to what I used to use.

Anyway, the motif is taken from Eunny Jang’s Endpaper Mitts pattern.  I know the colors don’t look as nice in this photo, but truthfully it actually looks pretty nice in the scarf.  You can see how the motifs are stacked together in this photo:

eunny jang mitts patternWhat I love about this scarf the most is the nostalgia factor.  Like I said, my hand warmers didn’t turn out that great, but I still look back on that project and can see how far I have come as a knitter.  I am more patient than I used to be and don’t just plow ahead thinking I know everything.  I also think if I were to do what I did back then trying to work with the size needles and yarn that I did, that I would be much better at resizing the mitts than I used to be.  I always think it’s important when crafting to know how particular you want to be.  Do I absolutely need this to look perfect?  And if you decide you don’t, I am always learning from each project so that by the time I start the next one I can build on my skills over and over again.  This is why I love crafting so much.  We are so close to my favorite motif!

 

Happy Knitting.

My Favorite Things…October 2014

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This month’s motif is very small, but also very cute.  One thing I have been trying to avoid in this scarf is my predisposition to symmetry.  I keep making my chunks of color work the same size.  It also means that I get very bored of the knitting very quickly because I think I have to do so much of it.  So this month I added some cute puppies to my scarf:

puppies motifI actually really like these puppies.  They are from this sock pattern here.  This is definitely one of my favorite motifs (though still not my absolute favorite one).  I actually need to go back to working on this project, but I’m trying to wrap up some of my larger projects first.

Pattern Pains

I am so bad at keeping up with this blog.  T____T

I have some posts from last year that I thought I scheduled, but apparently didn’t.  They will be showing up eventually.  I recently received a question though, and it’s re-inspired me to come back to this little venture.  So maybe I will be better about posting in the future.  No promises though.

Anyway, on to the question:

I so want to knit the Burridge Lake Aran Afghan, but I can’t even get past the directions. They are so confusing to me. I called in a seasoned knitter (even I have been knitting 50 years), but she too was baffled by the hard to figure out directions. I know there has to be an easier way to write directions for the pattern. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I have no problem with any of the stitches, but just can’t get how to read the directions. Help!

Boy do I feel your pain.  Sometimes knitting feels like trying to decipher a dead language.  I remember once as an exercise in elementary school where we had to write instructions for how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Easy right?  You would be surprised.  Everyone reads and interprets things differently, and the same goes for pattern writing.

I have answered the posters question directly, but I thought I would throw out some tips for everyone else.

1) Take your time with a pattern before you start. I know what it’s like to want to just dive right into that next great pattern, but sometimes, especially if the pattern is complicated it pays to just read the whole thing through and have an idea of what you are supposed to be doing before you start.

2) The wonders of the internet. Despite my age I am not always the biggest technology enthusiast, however one thing I love about the internet is that there are so many great videos about knitting floating around out there.  I have yet to search for a knitting stitch and not find a visual aid to help me understand how a stitch is supposed to work.  (Pssst, seriously check out the New Stitch a Day link in the sidebar.  They demonstrate so many awesome and complex stitch patterns.)  Not to mention you can also search for more technical knitting instructions, like “how to read a chart” or “how to fix a cable I screwed up 10 rows ago and I don’t want to rip it out.”

3) Decide ahead of time how perfectionist you want to be. This is always the most important part.  I have to decide how much of a mistake I discovered 8 rows too late is going to bother me while I work on the finished project.  Granted I have gotten very good at fixing mistakes by only ripping out small parts of a whole, but sometimes, you have to just plain start over….or on the flip side decide that the mistake is really just a beauty mark in your project and happily knit on.  For big projects that are complicated I tend to lean more towards perfection, but sometimes depending on how much work it is going to be to fix the problem, I may just have to breathe in and like bad energy, let it go.

4) Sometimes you have to start small. I remember for instance the afghan pattern in question I had to start over a couple of times while I was figuring it out.  At one point I worked on a couple of smaller projects that both involved cabling, and chart reading.  When I came back to the afghan pattern, I was better equipped with the skills to tackle the complexity of what was being presented to me.

5) Sometimes you just have to wing it. Ooh, boy.  Some people just don’t write very good instructions.  And then they fail to give you lots of pictures for you to try to match.  So then once you are more comfortable with what you can and can’t do, you just start making it up as you go along.  For instance my Checks + Balances Sweater involved steeking the sleeves.  (Steeking is a technique where you knit extra stitches into your knitting to later cut them apart, depending on the yarn you are using, it sometimes involves sewing some reinforcing lines before you cut.)  I had never heard of steeking before, and the directions in the pattern where so mind boggling to me I decided to try to figure out how to knit each sleeve individually. It was not fun, and certainly not easy, but I ended up with an okay result that I was happy with.

I think this is one of the reasons I love knitting so much.  I love the challenge presented to me with each new project, and I love that I am constantly acquiring new skills no matter how long I have been doing this.  Always feel free to email me questions.  I am happy to help.

 

Happy Knitting!

Easy Dishcloth Side Project

dishclothI have another job interview this week.  On one hand this is exciting because I continue to have opportunities and am always inching closer to an actual career type job.  Yay!

On the other hand, it means that I get stressed out and have a hard time focusing on things, including current crafting projects.  My job search since I graduated as been brutal and full of quite a bit of failure, which is fine.  Your life is better for failing, but it’s really time for me to find a job that will let me sustain myself independently so some of the stress comes from feeling that the stakes are so high.  However, this position is similar to what I already do, and I am very confident about what I can offer, now I just want to go and get it over with and move on.  Whew.

Personal information aside, since when I am stressed I have a harder time concentrating on projects, I decided just to start new, small projects to occupy my hands and mind while I wait.

These dishcloths are super easy.  All you have to know how to do is knit and yarn over.  You knit them from corner to corner, so you can decide how big your dishcloth will be as you go if you want.  I have a bunch of Comfy fingering weight yarn from Knit Picks leftover from a different project.  I originally bought this for a sweater pattern and then decided I didn’t like this particular yarn for the project.

Enter dishcloth stash busting project!  Since mine is fingering weight yarn, I just tripled up the skeins to get closer to a DK/Worsted weight yarn.  You just have to make sure you are getting through all the loops when you pull your stitches off of the needle.  The yarn is very soft and since it is acrylic and cotton blended together, it will be durable and good for light cleaning, or bathroom use.

The pattern is pretty simple and you can find multiple free versions on Ravelry.  In this case I cast on 4 sts and knit back to the beginning, then increased each row by K2, yo, knit to end of row until I got to the length I wanted.  In my case, I increased up to about 50 sts, and then began decreasing.  To decrease: K1, K2tog, YO, K2tog, knit to end of the row.  This is what gives the dishcloths the pretty almost raised looking border.

The one in the middle was made by using two strands of purple and one strand of ivory while knitting so in a way you can make your own multi-type yarn.

Anyway, since I will be traveling for the next couple of days I wanted to get a post out.

Happy Knitting!

Flying Geese Redux

Now that I have a sewing machine I am tackling my first quilt using up all the scrap fabric we have lying around the house.

I like Flying Geese squares because I am a fan of geometric shapes and patterns, but I wanted to mix it up somehow.  When I was searching the internet I found that there are variations on the traditional flying geese pattern (Flying Dutchman Squares are one..at least I think that is what the pattern is called).  I stumbled onto a block called Circle of Geese but instead of making it as the pattern shows, I am just making individual quarters of a block.  These two although still not perfect are my best blocks to date:

flying geese

These are made using paper piecing which I thought would be really finicky before watching some tutorials of it.  Now after making four blocks (unfortunately the first two aren’t usable) I am getting the hang of it.  The hardest part really is just having enough fabric to cover your seam allowance and then the section of the block they are supposed to cover.  (And then not ripping up your blocks when you take the paper off).

My plan for these types of blocks is to use neutral colors with pops of color for the geese triangles.  I have another paper piecing pattern that I am trying to figure out how I want to use (if at all) and finally, I am going to be doing some traditional flying geese strips.  The traditional strips I am planning to do patchwork style.  Hopefully I can put them all together in a way that actually looks good.  It’s my first quilt and while I can handle little boo boos I want it to look nice and last a long time.  Basically I want to make a slightly more interesting version of a patchwork quilt.  The only fabric I have bought for this project so far is some more neutral prints for the backgrounds.

My Favorite Things: September

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I have made some sloooooow progress on this scarf, but that’s okay because it’s more of a side project/I’m bored and don’t feel like starting anything new or working on anything already started kind of project. This section of the scarf comes from this pattern: Pine Bough Cowl.

pine bough cowl motif

The pattern has 2 charts that run in two different directions.  Each chart is broken into 3 sub sections that you knit a certain amount of times.  I completed all of the repeats of each subsection for Chart A.  Or at least I did most of them…I kind of got bored of knitting the motif so no promises that I actually finished all of it.   I was tempted to buy this sampler from KnitPicks of their Palette yarn so I had more color options for my scarf, until I realized they were full skeins…and the whole thing cost like $400.  Even if I had that kind of money I don’t really need that much yarn and for the next couple of months my mantra needs to be “though shalt not buy any more yarn.” (Cue hysterical laughter)

I am still enjoying this project despite my lack of color options, and I am so excited to share with you my favorite motif yet.

Purl Soho’s City Gym Shorts

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Image belongs to purlbee.com and Purl Soho. The idea that I could make something that looks this good makes me laugh hysterically to myself.

I love Purl Soho’s blog.  Nothing has ever depressed me more then when I realized that during my internship I was a freaking block away from this store.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I walked past it on more than one occasion.  Not that I would have been able to afford anything in there when I was living in New York.

Anyway when I saw the City Gym Shorts pattern I knew it would be a great project to relearn some of my sewing skills and break in my mom’s old machine.  I was just thinking as I finished these up how boxer/shorts were my final home ec project in high school.  There is a reason these are a relatively great beginner project though, because they are pretty easy.  Admittedly these shorts are a bit more sophisticated than the boxers I made in 9th grade.

I think what I like the most about these shorts is the bias tape edging that runs around the outer edges of the shorts.  To me this detail is what gives them a nice finished look and makes them look less home made.  Not that I care that much because I will probably wear them for pjs.

I have never made bias tape before so it was an interesting technique to learn.  If I ever take up quilting I am set.  In the original samples they used a lot of Liberty London fabrics which are ridiculously expensive, so I ended up just using a cheaper knit fabric.  ($16 for a 1/2 yard vs. $5 for a 1/2 yard, take your pick.)  If you want to make them any good cotton print will work.

ShortsI learned a lot just working on these.  To begin with I screwed up running my bias tape strip through the bias tape maker for the second side which meant that the seaming showed where you didn’t want to show it.  Bummer, but I wasn’t about to redo it.  The same goes for the waistband.  I may have grabbed the strip that was a little too short, also I wish I had just attached it like I was originally going to, basically the same way I attached the bias tape to the edges.  I was going to essentially just sandwich the raw edge with the waistband and only sew around them once, but I followed the instructions and I don’t really like how it turned out.  For one thing, it didn’t leave me enough space for the elastic, so even though I trimmed my elastic down, it’s still pretty curled in the waistband.  *sigh*.  However, I also realized that I rush things sometimes too.  I get obsessive about finishing things that sometimes I move too quickly and get sloppy.  I need to learn to take my time so that when I move on to dresses I hopefully won’t have to rip out too much.

Believe it or not I am pretty happy with how these turned out even though they aren’t perfect.  I think they look really nice and the knit fabric I paired with the chambray back means I am going to be very comfy in them.  I’m looking forward to making my second pair.

Someday I plan on learning how to draft patterns so that I can finally have pants that fit.