Lucky knitting today!
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Monday, March 11, 2013
Now that my mom is snuggling into the knitted scarves and hats I made her for her birthday, I can tell you about them.
I started out with a big, bulky, easy pattern from one of my favorite books, More Last Minute Knitted Gifts, which features what I think are elegant patterns. I happened to have picked up a skein of Cascade Magnum on sale, so whipping together this Big Lace Scarf was a breeze!
I think it's always good to start off with instant gratification and fun knitting. Knitting the Big Lace Scarf made for happy times, but I liked my next project even better. As soon as I started knitting with the Lana D'Oro, a 50/50 blend of alpaca and wool, I was in heaven. I love the yarn. I love the way the beret fits me. I hope it fits my mom just as well. I'll certainly be knitting myself another. (When I do, I'll get someone else to snap a picture of me wearing it.) This first project was a pleasure from the get-go. I started out knitting the Vivonne Bay hat with a twisted rib, but its lacy detailing was obscured by the marled Lana D'Oro. Soon I switched to a classic beret, also from More Last Minute Knitted Gifts, and I liked it much, much better. I was even able to salvage the twisted rib from the original hat.
No project was without some problems, even a favorite like this beret. Between the large wool and the too-loose twisted rib brim, I had a difficult time getting it to fit right. Unless I skimped on the crown and worked my decreases so quickly the top of the hat puckered, the warm, lush beret sagged onto my eyeglasses. My face felt heavy. My eyes and nose felt crowded. Awkward. Felting to the rescue! My timid hand-felting yielded little shrinking. Sometimes you've got to be brave. I tossed the hat into the washing machine. Lots of soap. Hot water. A pillowcase to catch loose fibers in. Machine felting shrunk the hat just the perfect amount.
That's enough for now. I'll tell you about the other hat and scarf another day.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Mmmm. A toe up sock construction I like: short row heels.
I have a high arch, and need more rather than less fabric spanning the curving slope of my arch and heel. Afterthought heels do not cut it. Traditional gusset heels do, but I have yet to work a toe-up gusset heeled sock, like the beautiful Chevrolace socks by Heidi Scheppmann.
Especially when I am short on yarn, I need a toe-up heel.
This week I finished a pair of quick footlets with just one ball of heavy worsted weight yarn (and a dozen or so yards of scrap yarn after I used up the single ball). I need to test this yarn with rough wear and tough machine washing before I work it up into a cardigan for my friend. What better way to rub it in some dirt and slosh it in hot soapy water than to knit it into socks?
I was impatient, as I have a handful of other yarns to test, too. I grabbed a toe up pattern and went with it. Thank goodness these short row heels fit!
|sock #2 finished with scraps, before tails were sewn in|
Saturday, February 23, 2013
I had forgotten how instantly gratifying sewing projects can be. Joy!
My boys have been playing so very well together lately. Mothering two small boys is truly a joy. For me, two are much easier than one. They occupy and entertain one another. They love each other. In Kidoodle's words, "Kitten Baby likes me. He makes me happy." (Well, except that Kidoodle doesn't call him Kitten Baby.)
These two little boys want to play the same games. . . at the same time. We had only one cape--a fabulous magicians cape with hidden pockets and sparkly fabric, lovingly sewn by their grandmama. Kidoodle donned it as a super hero cape and swooped around the house. Kitten Baby chased him, grabbing at the cloak and crying.
The boys ate lunch wearing their capes, Kidoodle his red one and Kitten Baby the magical token of grandmama's love. And as soon as Kitten Baby was settled for his nap, I got to work on his very own cape.
These capes were fun to make, speedy to sew, and have been very happy playthings indeed.
I used my mother-in-law's cape as a template, but there are several awesome cape tutorials online. My capes were constructed very similarly to this one by Made by Rae. I like the versatility of this hooded (or not) cape (featured on Sew Mama Sew), and have seen several cute superhero capes that velcro or snap closed like this one and this one.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Last month I played catch-up on Christmas knitting and then spent two blissful weeks engrossed in a skein of Malabrigo Arroyo. I love wearing my kerchief. It keeps me just the right amount of warm for winters in Georgia. Yesterday I washed it and pinned it out to dry. Blocked, the piece is much bigger, and I'm excited to try it on again!
This month I've been knitting with a purpose, trying to get together two sets of gifts for my mom for her birthday. (The specifics of what I'm knitting are a surprise.) I'm knitting two of them to give my mom options. Perhaps, more honestly, I'm knitting two gift sets because I can't make up my mind about what stitch patterns, what colors, and what styles she will prefer.
My mom's birthday has come and gone, and still I am not done with these projects. This is because I have wasted at least half of the month starting and frogging projects, poring through patterns, and pawing through my stash.
Saying that I am a perfectionist knitter is going too far. My Arco Iris kerchief had a few errors that I opted to preserve, since I can't drop stitches down the selvedge without then creating a ghastly, hole-ridden mess and having to frog most of a project. And those two (or four or six) knit stitches where I should have purled don't bother me a bit. Truthfully.
I think my obsessive compulsiveness comes in earlier in the knitting game, when I am picking out yarns and patterns. For example, I may want to make socks. I may have two skeins of lovely Dream in Color Smooshy, two huge Cascade Heritage Paints cakes, a few surviving balls of self-striping sock yarn from my knitting-youth that I have now outgrown, and a handful of solid colored wools to choose from, but I cannot simply pick one, choose a pattern, and get to work.
Instead I'll deliberate for days, maybe even weeks, on whether or not I really want to break into my 1000 yards of Heritage Paints for a single pair of socks. Are the color repeats short enough and is the yarn thin enough for these textured Rocky River Socks? And so my deliberation continues. Several false starts. Much lost knitting time. Without actual knitting to calm me, my stress rises.
Phooey! This cannot be what knitting is about! I'd rather be obsessive about knitting all the time, no matter where I am. (I'm working on that.)
Fellow knitters. Sister knitters. How do you select a project? Do you fuss over finding that balance between yarn and pattern? Do you dive right in? What if you are knitting for someone else?
Hopefully all of this time and thinking is worth the satisfaction of a project that is balanced, one that speaks to me. Certainly the actual knitting is worth every moment.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
When my local(ish) yarn shop gave me a free skein of Malabrigo, any color and any type I wanted, I chose Arco Iris in homage to my home town. And I couldn't resist digging my needles in right away. I thought this simple kerchief pattern, Zilver, would nicely show off the pretty hand-painted yarn. I think I'm right, and knitting this shawl is therapy.
Isn't a picnic a cure for all ills?