Knitstant Gratification

The crafting adventures of a knitter, music lover, and hockey fan.

Archive for March, 2014

Getting into the Groove of Lace

Posted by Andi on March 24, 2014

I’m currently working on two lace projects.

I started Nori, a lace shawl, the weekend before last when I realized I wanted some new knitwear for YarnCon. Yes, I felt I had to start something new. I started the Parquet Stole about five weeks ago. It’s a travel project, so I only work on it when I’m out of town. As a matter of fact, it could very well take me all year to finish it.

Both projects had their own bumps in the road. Nori is the first lace project I’m making that has lace every row, as opposed to a purl row on the wrong side of the work. As such, I had a difficult time conceptualizing what I was doing. When the lace rows are only on the right side, at least for the patterns I have worked on, there are slight changes every row, so it’s easier to sort of “get it.” Lace knitting on the wrong side threw everything for a loop. I was making a lot of mistakes, missing yarn overs, and having to tink back quite a bit in the beginning.

The Parquet Stole had a host of problems, including the fact that it is the third project I started with this yarn. I was beginning to think the yarn was cursed. For various reasons the first two projects didn’t pan out. The Parquet Stole did not start well. I re-wound the yarn after the previous project attempt, and it got all tangled. I think the yarn enjoyed its tangled state, because after every row of the Parquet Stole the yarn was getting tangled with itself or my needles (I’m knitting flat on a circular needle). I had to do all sorts of untwisting and untangling before each row. I was getting frustrated, and was thinking about frogging the whole thing and putting the yarn away for a while, or even throwing it out.

Then something wonderful happened last week. I got into the groove on both projects, Nori on one day, and the Parquet Stole on the next. I’m not sure how it happened. All of a sudden the row on Nori made sense, and even though I will never have the pattern memorized, all of a sudden I didn’t have to think as hard when working on it and I made fewer mistakes. As for the Parquet Stole, I wrapped up the cast on tail and that alone seemed to fix the problem. Even though the previous tangles didn’t always involve the cast on tail, reducing that made everything more clear and fewer tangles ensued.

The Parquet Stole is put away until I travel again. I’m going to be working hard on Nori in order to be ready to block it by a week from tonight. I’m about half done with it.

And, of course, the title of this post reminds me of this.


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I Only Went Into the Store to Get Needles…

Posted by Andi on March 12, 2014

Tim and I recently went to Indiana for a few days to visit Tim’s parents. I had been wanting to buy an interchangeable needle set, so I looked at yarn stores in Northern Indiana to see if I could tell whether or not they had interchangeable needle sets on their website. Sure enough I found one, The Yarn Loft in Plymouth. I saw they had Knitter’s Pride needles, which was one of the needle sets I wanted to check out. Before heading to Tim’s parents’ house we drove to Plymouth to check out the store.

Before I even got to the needles I found something else to buy — Lavishea lotion bars. It’s a solid moisturizer that you can use while knitting and it isn’t supposed to leave any residue on your yarn. I have heard of the Lolo Bar, and I think this is similar. I decided to buy one, and after spending way too much time going through all of the possible scents I chose pear. I have since used it and I like it very much, and it certainly doesn’t leave residue on the yarn. Perfect!

An employee showed me to where the needles were. I looked at the interchangeable sets, and spent a long time debating between metal and wood. In the past I bought the size of needle I needed with no concern as to whether it was metal or wood. Sometimes I use wood needles, sometimes I use metal needles. I was specifically looking for a set where tips are available in different materials so that I would have more options. Ultimately I decided to go with metal, since I’ve had some instances lately where yarn was sticking on my wooden needles. I also figured I would only use wood tips in some of the smaller sizes, but that I would probably use metal in all sizes. I can always buy wooden tips in the smaller sizes. So that was that, I went with metal. And so far, so good. I cast on a sweater the day after I bought the needles, and at least the size 10 works great!

They also had the Knitter’s Pride Karbonz circular needles (not interchangeable). I have been curious about those, so I bought a size 1 circular, my standard sock needle, to check those out. If I like them I might buy some Karbonz tips too.

So that was it. I headed to the register to pay. And then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted this.

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport

It’s not as if I have every Lorna’s Laces colorway memorized, but I didn’t recall seeing this one before, and I thought it was pretty. The woman working at the shop explained that Plymouth has a Blueberry Festival every year, and it’s a really big deal in the town. Lorna’s Laces dyed up this colorway only to be sold at this store in honor of the Blueberry Festival. The colorway is called Blueberry Hill. Once she told me that story I knew I wanted the yarn. I quickly went through my yarn buying rules. Souvenir or special yarn, yarn festival yarn, and yarn for specific projects. I thought this fit into the first category. Tim asked what I would make with them, and I said socks. Since I knew what I would use the yarn for and it’s not yarn I could easily get, Tim agreed that it fit in the rules. So the yarn is mine. I can’t wait to knit with it, but it will be a while.

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No More Mohair… Maybe

Posted by Andi on March 10, 2014

It’s been a horrible winter in the Chicago area — way too much snow and way too cold. All winter long I felt like I cold never quite get warm. Once I got a few projects out of the way, I decided I wanted to make some more fingerless gloves or wristwarmers, because even though in the past I never wore them much, I thought they would be useful this year.

I have four pairs of fingerless gloves. I keep one pair in my trench coat. I have another pair where one of the gloves has a hole by them thumb that I need to repair. The third pair, well, it isn’t really a pair because one of the gloves is missing. The fourth pair I keep at work, but it doesn’t work well. That pair is pretty long, and ends maybe 3/4 between my wrist and my elbow. It works well when I’m wearing short sleeves, but when I’m wearing long sleeves (as I do in the winter) I can’t pull them all the way up because the sleeves are in the way. They end up bunching up around my wrists, which makes typing uncomfortable. I figured I needed a shorter pair for when I have short sleeves on, so I made these.

Reversible Wristers
Pattern: Reversible Wristers by Kit Hutchin
Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Black (.64 skein) and Candy Girl (.72 skein)
Needles: US 1
Date started: February 22, 2014
Date completed: March 9, 2014

Not only are these shorter than the ones I already have at the office, but they have no thumb hole, so I have the full mobility of my hand at all times. They are super soft and super warm and will be perfect on the days when the office is cold, which seems to be most days lately. Of course, as I type this it’s 55 degrees outside, so I might have finished these too late.

The pattern called for a different mohair yarn, but I bought Rowan Kidsilk Haze because it’s easier to get around here. I wasn’t sure how much to buy because Kidsilk Haze has 229 yards in each skein, and the yarn the pattern called for, Shibui Silk Cloud, has 330 yards per skein. I looked at FOs on Ravelry that used the Shibui yarn, and everyone indicated they used one skein in each color. No one used indicated that they used fractions of a skein. I wondered if one skein of each color in Kidsilk Haze would be enough. I took a risk and bought one skein in each color because I figured I could always run back to the store and get more. I started this project right after I bought the yarn so I would know ASAP if I would need more yarn. It turns out one skein per color was just fine, so I’m glad I didn’t buy two skeins of each color.

I mean I’m really glad, because I remembered why I hate knitting with Kidsilk Haze. I bought a skein shortly after I started knitting. I tried to knit a gauge swatch and then take it apart, but that yarn is impossible to frog. I hated working with it, even if the scarf I made with it was pretty and soft and lovely. But that was a long time ago, and I’m a much better knitter now, so I thought maybe I wouldn’t hate it as much now.

At first, I was right. I started knitting with it and everything seemed fine at first. No problems. But after a while, the yarn was sticking to my wooden needles. Then I noticed I dropped a stitch or two here and there. It took me a while to notice because the halo basically hid the dropped stitches. The yarn is so sticky that it was really difficult to pull the stitch up the ladder more than one or two stitches, so eventually I decided the dropped stitches were going to stay dropped and I would increase to make sure I had the right number of stitches on the needle. I threaded some yarn through each dropped stitch and pulled it to the back where I wove in the ends so that the stitches wouldn’t drop further.

This pattern calls for a provisional cast on, and I did the smart thing and used a pretty slippery yarn for the waste yarn. I had no problem removing the provisional cast on from the first wrist warmer and getting the stitches back on the needle, but I had a terrible time with the second one. I was already annoyed because this project meant essentially knitting the equivalent of four wrist warmers since they are reversible and have two layers. I was so ready for them to be done, and then I had a hard time with the second provisional cast on. Ugh! And then I had to do both i-cords for the ties. I briefly considered not doing the ties, but I really liked how they looked and had enough yarn to do them, so I did. I’m glad I did because I think they look better this way.

All of that said, I love, love, love these. They are so soft and so warm and so comfy. I adore them. I got fed up knitting the, but I’m so happy with the finished product. So, will I knit with Kidsilk Haze again? I don’t know. Probably. There are a couple of patterns in my queue that I like and want to own that call for similar yarn. However, if I do use mohair yarn again, it’s going to be for something pretty basic, and nothing that requires a provisional cast on. And I might just wait a couple of years.

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Pattern Purge

Posted by Andi on March 1, 2014

While I’ve done some knitting over the past week, I’ve spent more time on knitting-related yet non-knitting activity. I purged a bunch of patterns from my Ravelry queue.

First, I should explain how I use my Ravelry queue and favorites. Outside of finished objects, the only patterns I favorite are patterns I think are amazing, whether I would be willing to knit them or not. I don’t use my queue just for the things I’m going to knit soon. Instead, I use it as the pool from which I choose patterns to knit. Nearly all of the patterns I have in my library are in my queue. Yes, I know, I can just search my library on its own, but I don’t always want to limit my search to that, and don’t want to search twice (the patterns in my queue for the first search, and patterns not in my queue on the second one).

Sometimes I do searches for certain classes of patterns and populate my queue with them. For instance, I was making a lot of dishcloths, so I added a bunch of cute dishcloth patterns. Then, when I felt like working on a dishcloth, I would search my queue. It had patterns I owned as well as free patterns I already knew I liked, and I would pick one I was in the mood to knit. Similarly, if I’m looking for something specific to knit, such as a baby blanket, I would find a bunch of blankets I like on Ravelry and put them in my queue. Later I would go back and decide which one I wanted to knit. The problem was, once I picked the baby blanket pattern I wanted to knit, I didn’t delete the patterns from my queue that I decided not to use. Or the hats I queued for Tim. Or the afghans I queued for our couch.

I would also queue garments I thought were cute, but never went back and deleted them when my tastes changed or something went out of style. Or I would queue something silly, like skirts. One day I decided there were a bunch of cute skirt patterns out there, and I would queue a bunch and knit some skirts. One problem – I rarely wear dresses or skirts in my day-to-day life. Am I really going to knit one? No. And when I made this realization, did I delete the skirts I added to my queue? No.

Needless to say, my queue grew out of control. I had over 5,000 patterns. Granted, nearly 2,000 of those were in my library, but that’s still way too many patterns. Now that I want to be more frugal and use what I have, I decided to purge a bunch of patterns I don’t need. I filtered my queue to go through different types of patterns I was going to consider deleting. Here are some of the categories.

–Patterns that I would have to pay for that I don’t already own. I looked at the pattern, looked at the price, and decided whether I would be willing to pay that price for that particular pattern. If so, it stayed in the queue. If not, I deleted it. I also deleted patterns I would have to pay for that are similar to patterns I already own or things I’ve already made.

–Patterns that were in books or magazines or pamphlets I don’t already own, and couldn’t be bought individually. Did I like the pattern enough to either purchase the entire book or magazine or pamphlet, or go through the trouble to find it at the library or see if I have a friend who owns the pattern? In all cases, the answer was no. Those were deleted.

–Baby stuff. I don’t have kids, and I don’t anticipate having any soon. I have many baby patterns in my library.
The next time someone I know has a baby, if there isn’t something already in my queue that I want to make for that person, then I will search for something else. There is no need for me to keep baby stuff queued. I kept a few things that I thought were amazing or inspiring, but that was it.

–Skirts and dresses. Enough said.

–Vests. I don’t really wear vests. I kept a couple of vest patterns I thought were great and would actually consider wearing and deleted the rest.

–Men’s items. Often when I see men’s items I would be willing to knit, I queue them in case Tim would like them, but I usually forget to actually show them to Tim. He sat down with me and looked at all the men’s patterns and decided which ones I should keep and which ones he didn’t like.

–Sock and shawl patterns. I have a lot of sock and shawl patterns in my queue. I deleted ones I didn’t like anymore, and ones that were similar to other patterns already in my queue.

–Toys. I kept a few toys that I think are inspiring, and a few that I plan to use for decoration. I deleted the rest.

–Blankets. For some reason I’ve kept a lot of blanket patterns. I already have a lot of blanket patterns in my library, so I deleted all but the ones I thought were amazing and really want to knit.

–Stranded color work. I’m not very good at stranded color work. I plan to get better at it some day, but so far I haven’t. I kept a few stranded color work patterns that I think will inspire me to improve, and the sorts of patterns I like enough that I would actually choose to improve just so I can make that sweater. The rest were deleted.

–Crochet. See stranded color work.

–Garments that are cute but won’t be flattering on me. This was hard, because a lot of these garments are cute and I would love to knit them and wear them, but they just won’t work with my body shape. I deleted almost every sweater that called for super bulky yarn. I just sort of eyeballed the rest.

–Tea cozies. I don’t own a tea pot.

–Dish clothes. We decided since the dishcloths take a bit of a beating that I would only knit plain ones.

–Bags. I have a ton of market bag patterns in my library, and as cute as I think some tote bag and purse patterns are, I’m probably not going to knit those. I deleted all the non-library market bags, and only kept a handful of other bag patterns in my queue if I really love them and would actually use them.

–Felted items. I’ve never felted anything. Maybe one day I will. The thought of felting something I would wear, such as a hat or slippers, is a turn off to me because I really don’t want to take the time to keep checking to see how much something felted and whether it will fit yet. I kept a few felted patterns in my queue, and they were all things where size doesn’t matter such as bowls or holiday decorations.

I think that just about covers it. Over the course of the last week I must have deleted over 1,000 patterns from my queue. I’m sure there are others that I should delete, but I think I have to wait a few weeks and try again. It’s weird, psychologically I feel a lot better now, like I removed clutter and can be more efficient somehow, even though that’s not really true.

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