Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Stop Dithering -and- Knit Something!

That's gonna be my motto in 2010. "Stop Dithering and Knit Something". I already wrote it on one of my mini-whiteboards (in place of the to-do list that had been languishing for four weeks; the other mini-whiteboard has a list of my projects on it, including "Anna's GloveMitts", "Rachel's Cardigan", and "Finn's HK mask thingy" - the one where I'm trying to reproduce this kitty hat for my dear friend's kitty... haven't forgotten it, I just got sidetracked by a lack of skills on this particular one. As much as it pains me to admit it, I imagine it would actually work better in crochet... the needlecraft that eludes me).


You know those "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters? (As seen to your left, so if you didn't know... now you do.) And how there seems to be a million variations on that theme available for purchase on places around the internets? (Such as the prints turned up from a search for "keep calm", here - that's going to bring up every recently listed item tagged in such a manner, so the content is dynamic, and I hold no responsibility for lewd variations on the theme that might pop up. Disclaimer out!) (Also: Keep Calm Shop on Etsy.)

Well, I want one - in a more muted tone, perhaps, that reads "STOP DITHERING and KNIT SOMETHING". My problem, mostly, is dithering. If I come to a fork in the road on a project - some place where I don't quite understand the instructions, or the next stop seems difficult or intimdating (say, the point at which one might start creating fingers in a pair of cut-off-finger gloves), I dither. I will work on the item for ten minutes, then find something else to do, like faff about on the internet for an hour, or play a computer game, or watch "Weatherscan" for half an hour. It's not productive. It's a waste of my focus. But it allows me to escape the problem I'm having. And I need to not only face the problems head-on, but have more faith in my ability to work through those problems! Though I often self-deprecate to the point of being annoying, I know at the core of it that I'm not a stupid woman. I am a self-taught knitter. I decided that I finally wanted to learn, after all those years, and I somehow got up the gumption to do something about it. Here I am, three years later, knitting away and building my skills and even getting paid to produce items (self-promotion holla!), and I still, when blocked by a problem, dither. I need to learn to forge ahead. Of all of the problems I've ever faced, learning how to knit glove-fingers is really the least of it.

In the meantime, I'll look to this variation on the Keep Calm poster: Get Excited and Make Things. As long as you don't intend to sell it, this image is generously offered free for personal use!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'd love to stop dithering about on my blog, but I have some sleeping to do. ;)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry late Christmas!

Making this an especially late post for Christmas is the picture I'm about to upload of my brother-in-law's fingerless gloves:
...well, "glove". It's coming along now that I'm actively trying to rid myself of the phobia of knitting fingers. I've already frogged the middle finger twice, but I think I've got it down, now. I just want to make sure I'm not going around cutting off circulation with these things.

The original pattern is "Cigar" from the Summer '05 issue of Knitty, but since this glove was only half-finished (hadn't started on the fingers yet) I managed a fitting and a consultation with my brother-in-law... he likes the yarn, doesn't quite like the construction, so we're going to try for fingerless-at-the-knuckles, with a mitten shell. When he suggested he wanted a pull-back mitten top I was like, "What's WITH you kids and the mitten shells?" which point he was a little taken aback. Sorry! That's just the pressure of a deadline talkin' there.

In other news, I was pointed towards an amazing knitted Viking hat/beard combo from an especially metal-leaning friend of mine. (Gals: if you like dudes on bikes who wear leather jackets and rock big ol' mustaches, but also likes puppies and kittens, please allow me to hook you up with this guy!) The original post is at Splendor, and I managed to tease out instructions for the bearded toque here. AMAZING!

Well, back to the glove... hopefully by sometime tomorrow I may be able to amend that to gloves, plural!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Workspace

It's a little blue-ish, but this is a picture I took to celebrate having a temporary work space! I have had a desk for a while, but it's sort of languishing in our spare bedroom... then when my husband received a desk for his birthday, we were too tired to rearrange the livingroom (we planned on keeping it down here so he would have a place to study), so it was pushed in front of the front window. So far we haven't been able to get the room rearranged, but we're sharing the desk for the time being. It's nice to have a place to keep a few books out and be able to sit and have a pattern laid out flat in front of you! I already feel like it's helped me to be more productive :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

My First (Dog) Sweater

This week I finally finished a small sweater project I've had in the works for a couple of months now: a dog sweater for Bailey, the precious pooch of my friend Eva. Eva and Bailey come into my workplace every week and have tea and sit and read for a bit (well, Bailey doesn't drink tea, but if you know of a dog that does... leave a comment, that's pretty remarkable!). And I thought Bailey would look darling in a sweater! So we took measurements, and we found the perfect yarn, and I swatched away. I didn't follow an exact pattern, but I did use Kristi Porter's "Knitting For Dogs" as a reference.

I had to put the pieces up against Bailey and make notes where to place the front leg-holes, but other than that the construction was super-easy. The top piece (the back of the sweater) is slightly longer and wider, and the bottom piece (the "front") is skinner and not as long ( have to make sure the pup in question can't piddle on her/his sweater!). To straighten out the edges I used garter stitch. The difficult part for me was seaming - I'm sort of a novice at mattress stitch, though I've practiced and hope to get better - I suppose I could have left more selvage on parts of it, but overall I'm happy with how it turned out. It was also a perfect fit, and Bailey wasn't bothered at all by wearing it! Here's some pics of her in her brand new sweater, and some pictures of the yarn up close & personal. (It's kind of nubbly - it's easy to get your needles caught in the "bits", but it knits up beautifully and feels gorgeously soft.)

Click to enlarge the pics :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

To-Do Lists, Tiny Huffs of Luxury Fibres, and Me

So yesterday I went to the old LYS with my friend Anna - we were there to pick out yarn for her convertible mitts/fingerless gloves that were supposed to be her Christmas present last year... ahem. We looked around and oohed and aahed over various fibres (if you've never touched Kashmir Baby, I highly suggest that you do) and finally asked one of the knowledgeable proprietors what she would suggest for our project. I'm looking at a combination of Broadstreet and Knucks (I like the top-down construction of Knucks - I found it pretty easy to figure out the instructions when I tried it out about a year or so ago). So we looked up the Broadstreet pattern and found out how much yarn in what kind of weight, and landed on Jitterbug by Colinette, a lovely sock yarn in a variety of colourways. Anna chose "Salty Dog" - it's a rich, jewel-toned teal-sapphire-navy blend, and looks absolutely amazing in the sunlight. I've started swatching, but I think I need to go up a needle size just to make sure I get the right texture.

I also got a hank of Lush - my first Classic Elite Yarns purchase ever, which is remarkable considering how much advertising I see for them every time I purchase a new knitting magazine! It is so soft and pretty. I want to use it to make Foliage. One might think that using a halo-prone yarn with a lace/leaf pattern would be counterproductive (stitch definition is greatly reduced), but I made my first Foliage with Elsebeth Lavold Angora, and it was the warmet, softest hat I have ever worn. Unfortunately, it went missing last winter. Chances are good I might have dropped it by my car or in the store where I work... or that someone nicked it. Le sigh. Anyhow, I bought a nice sort of cherry red colour and it is so, so lovely. Can't wait to make the hat - should be a nice weekend project before it gets quite cold and I really need it!

In other news, Anna and I are going to put our heads together and try to design the ultimate knitting bag. Sure, we have lots of competition - Lexi Barnes, Namaste, Lantern Moon - but who knows? Perhaps with my knitting needs and her sewing know-how, we might create the next big thing. Stay tuned!

Day-off/Weekend To-Do List:

- front pieces for the kimono cardigan
- dog sweater for Bailey
- finish test hat
- swatch for/modify patterns for Anna's glove-mittens
- drink hot chocolate and eat a couple of bon-bons

Friday, October 9, 2009

Knitting To-Do

In the interest in staying on top of all of my various projects, here's a to-do I'm setting myself for the weekend:

- work on the "Bibbity Bobbity" hat
- swatch for the "Kimono Classic" cardigan out of "Simple Style"
- finish green "Laila" scarf for Etsy store
- finish cowl for same
- doggie sweater for Bailey (friend's dog)

...and perhaps map out what I'm going to do with recent stash acquisitions, including the lace/cable beret I'm trying to chart.

I'm hoping the Kimono Classic will turn out fine despite having to sub in cheaper yarn - I'm making it for a work friend. We went shopping for the yarn today, and I think that we got enough yardage (there will be a few adjustments for measurement, and I want to make sure we keep the loose, boxy shape... it's what she liked about the pattern in the first place). I swatched on size 8 needles, but I think my gauge is a little tight. I'll see what washing and drying does to it, but I'll probably do a couple more swatches before I settle in for the long haul.

Ok. Let's see if I can get some of this stuff done. Goooooooooooooooo knitting!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Oh, and before I forget:

My newest knitting read is Knit the Hell Out. Cassy's sweet blog includes lots of knitting, adventures, and even a brush with the swine flu... this gal has it all! I should also mention that I'm test-knitting a cool hat from a pattern she authored. Go read!

Hey, where did September go?

I'm sure it was in there somewhere. Maybe it's in the cupboard, or hidden in one of my yarn stashes? Oh, well.

So, obviously, still knitting! I also found my USB cord for my camera, so expect photographic updates... if you'd like to know where it was, it was actually in the basket I had out especially for camera peripherals and related junk. A place for everything and everything in its place, yeah? Well, that only applies to me, apparently, if I can see it. If there's a plastic bag on it, it might as well have disappeared off the face of the earth.

Working on a lace beret pattern - trying to come up with my own original spin on the design. I love lace, I love cables, I love beret shaping... but I just can't seem to make it happen.

In the meantime, here's a link to my etsy shop: Sleep Knitting (the store!). I finally have an item up: a chunky, slouchy green beret dubbed "Miss Urchin". She's sassy! She's warm! And she can be yours for the low, low price of fifteen bucks! Makes a great gift... and more on the way in even more colours! ;)

And here's a picture of my adorbs kitty, Dog, putting the mister in a corner:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

P.S.: Bonus Useful Link O' The Day

While I was writing down notes for the aforementioned project (needle size, yarn brand/type, etc.) I decided to also write down the WPI or wraps per inch, just in case I wanted to sub yarn later on (I made it in a nice-quality acrylic, but I think it's a design that could benefit from wool or other animal fibre in the winter months). I googled WPI so I could get an idea of how to better use that information later on, and found this page about estimating needed yarn yardage based on WPI. It's a very useful reference and one I'm sure I'll use later on - especially as I may have a sweater commission coming down the pipe (a friend wants me to make him a Christmas sweater - it could be absolute comedy gold depending on what direction we take it in, heh)!

Update On Late-B'day Project

I finished my friend's belated birthday gift today, but realised it would need some stabilising around the edge. I decided to pick up those edge stitches and do a 1 x 1 twisted rib... except that, being a rib, it pulls the item in too far around the face. I don't know, it might work for the recipient, but for me - not so much, as I wear glasses. I think I'll have to pull the rib out and start over... maybe a couple rows of seed stitch? It's so difficult since I have to write in vagaries, not wanting to give it away just in case - however slight - the recipient might be reading (so I definitely can't post pics yet!). I will wait for morning to think about pulling it all out and starting the edge over (it only took about half an hour, so it's not like redoing the whole thing).

Well, I was going to post some pics of other projects, but after hunting high and low I couldn't find the USB cord that connects my camera to the computer, sigh. However, here is a pic of me wearing one of my hats that I dug up on Facebook:

Monday, August 10, 2009

You Can't Blog When You're Too Busy Knittin'

Thank goodness for an internet chock full o' knitters - I was losing my mind trying to remember how to knit a flat circle, and along came this informative tutorial. Whew! (Looks like a kickass blog, too - I'm interested in amigurumi, but I'm so not a crocheter. I totally want to knit adorable things - in fact, one is a secret project right now. If it ever turns out how I want, I will be sure to post about it!).

I needed to know how to knit a circle so I could make an idea a reality - a reverse coaster for wine glasses. My in-laws always put a piece of thin cardboard or whatever is available on top of their wine glasses in the summer, as the wine tends to attract gnats. Well, I saw a need, and decided I could knit something to fix the problem - and make something pretty! I have a design in mind, I just need to do some sketches, some practice knitting, and perhaps learn how to knit with beads.

In other news, I am smack dab in the middle of project land - I am just finishing up a friend's late birthday present (will post pics and details when she receives it!), I have plans for a rainbow shrug that a friend has commissioned, I have plans for my first cardigan (for myself!), some autumnal accessories, and getting my Etsy shop up and running. So busy! The only difficulty is staying focused. That hasn't been going so well lately... perhaps adult-onset ADHD? Heh, I'm far too lazy for that. Doesn't take a whole load of energy to knit up a storm!

Ok, that seems to be my quarterly post, haha. Best get to bed - have to be up early in the A.M. Have been up far too late as it is. ♥

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quick Hit: Clear Clogs

If clear clogs are wrong, then dammit, I don't want to be right!

Socks on Parade

Ok, sock, singular, on parade... and by "parade", I mean "cat": least it proves the existence of one sock. (And one of my amazing, adorable kitties!) If only the second one would just find the exact point in the yarn which will provide a near-identical striping sequence, and cast itself on.

I tried an anatomical toe on this one, since the recipient has more of a toe-angle going on than I do. I remembered seeing instructions for this once on Persnickety Knitter, but since I was doing top-down construction (and I haven't yet tried toe-up - I will take the challenge some day), I did a little more scouting around and found some helpful pointers at Under Dutch Skies. I didn't follow the instructions entirely (I don't have a printer with which to produce the custom knitting chart graph, though that is an incredible, incredible resource), but I did trace Bre's left foot on some looseleaf paper and did some rudimentary calculating based on my gauge, and though she hasn't yet tried the sock on, it seems to have worked out.

Ok, enough faffing about, I should get to bed. But before I do, the Krikki gals want to wish you a happy Easter... and so do Bella and Edward. G'night!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

De-stashing, Re-stashing, and All Points in Between

We started to seriously de-clutter a little bit in the past couple of weeks - there have been boxes sitting in our office/computer room/junk room/hobby space since we moved in, and I haven't been making very good use of the bookshelf or my "new" desk that I got Christmas 2007 (it's incredibly lovely, made by my husband and my dad-in-law, but it has unfortunately become a holding spcae for everything except my computer... right now the built-in bookshelf is totally packed, though!). I think in that first 2-day burst of cleaning we threw out about five or six bags of garbage/unwanted items that have been collecting dust since forever.

The big part is that I actually threw out yarn! Not good yarn, mind - I'm talking the cheapiest, scratchiest acrylics from when I began knitting, the fun-fur type stuff I got at Hobby Lobby that is a pain in the arse to knit with and offers no stitch definition (but I bought in the beginning stages of knitting because it was soooooooo fluffy and sooooooo fun! Am I ever glad that I'm over that infatuation phase). I actually did some of that a couple of months ago, too, when I realised that I was never going to fit my whole stash into the super-sized tote box I bought for storage. Which is not to say that my whole stash is even in there, now - there's still some on my desk, in another Rubbermaid tote in the bedroom, distributed among a few knitting bags, downstairs by the kitchen... you get the idea, ha. But I made the decision this year not to buy yarn that I absolutely loved, or had a purpose for. If it was of a poor quality, or not for a specific project, I wasn't going to buy it, even if it was on sale. So far I have stuck to my guns on this and I am quite proud of myself!

So, for my birthday this year I received quite a windfall in Handheld Knitting gift certificates, and while I don't usually go nuts in there (as much as I wish my yarn budget could exceed my food/grocery budget, it's just not feasible, heh), I've allowed myself a few things I couldn't ordinarily afford, such as Tofutsies sock yarn, Opal sock yarn, Mini Mochi sock yarn (hah... seeing a trend here?), some Brown Sheep company stuff and... well, that's it so far, but I still have a bit of credit left. I got the Opal on Saturday, and I'm 3/4 of the way through a sock for my friend Bre. Obviously a second one will follow it, but as with all of my sock projects, it's anyone's guess as to when it will materialise! I tried finding the label (I know I saved it, but can't remember where I put it as I am a doofus), so I can't link to a source, but you can see the sock-in-progress to your left. It is such a yummy colourway - it makes me feel very happy to knit with it, and I only hope I can find more so I can make a pair for me! Although the Mini Mochi (in very jewel-y, ultramarine blue tones) and the very pink Tofutsies are for me... so I might have to hold off on that.

Right now I'm just getting back into the swing of the knitting thing, after a brief hiatus (a large work-related project had me delving into another craft - painting - and left little energy for the sticks), and I'm loving it again. Being in the yarn store is a refreshing experience, a little bit of soul renewal every time I step through the door and let myself think of the possibilities. Today I even stayed a little while and worked on my sock while trying to decide what else to get (it's nice to meditate by the sock yarn!) and chit-chatted with Joy, one of the owners. It was quite lovely.

In other news, my aforementioned friend Bre and I started a new blog, Krikki Watch - it's a Kristen Stewart/Nikki Reed hybrid fansite, for following the gossip surrounding their meteoric rise to BFF-dom and also their movie projects, those done together and seperately. It's a bit of fun and I loved finding a cute pic of them for the site!

Ok, that's about it. I will post more works in progress and hopefully get to that second sock by the time the weekend comes!

Monday, January 12, 2009

2009: Posting More On The Darn Blog!

Hello! (...hello, hello, hello, echo...)

Didn't really get into the swing of updating there in 2008, like I meant to. So my goal this year is modest - way modest. Once a month. I can manage at least once a month, right? Even if I only put up a few pictures and type up what I've managed to knit.

So, I don't have any pictures for today. I really have to get on that. I mean, I have them, but they're on the camera and my desktop computer is all the way upstairs, and I'm lazy... I'll try to add them later. I know, a knitting blog is useless without photos!

This is what I've done so far this year:

Georgian Lace Cap, which is a free pattern from Their suggestion for yarn is "Comfy", a cotton/acrylic blend, but I had some of Hobby Lobby's new yarn line, "I Love This..." in wool. It was a birthday gift for a friend, in a cream-coloured white ("Winter White") to hopefully match one of her stylish coats!

A practice version of the Fishtrap Lace Scarf from Arctic Lace by Donna Druchunas. I didn't knit it side-to-side like in the book, as I was actually just knitting my fifty-millionth swatch of the pattern. For some reason whenever I came back to the start, my diagonal eyelets would just be off, by one stitch, even though i was following the chart correctly. It turns out there does in fact exist errata for the pattern, so it wasn't just me! Anyhow, once I finally got the pattern right (almost, I was missing a stitch on one side, but I still made it work) and figured out a way to memorise it (it's a 6-st pattern: the y.o is 1, k2tog is 2, 3-5 knit, and 6 is knit through the back loop), I couldn't bear to stop knitting, so I kept going until I had a length I liked. This one is in "I Love This Wool" in Stonewash and will be a late Christmas gift for an acquaintance.

And my latest work, a pair of mittens in Knitpicks "Wool of the Andes", pewter. (I still have quite a stash from when I bought enough to make a sweater that never happened.) I didn't have a basic mitten pattern on hand, so I googled about and found a basic men's mitten pattern on Knit With KT. My difficulty here was adapting her instructions to fit my gauge. I think I managed it - I mean, they're quite serviceable mittens - but I think it's one thing where chunky yarn might not quite cut it, sort of like socks, where a fingering up to worsted weight will do the job better. Like, the mitten is fine, but it doesn't look very elegant. I knitted them for a friend who has to walk outside a lot, and hopefully he's not as sensitive to bumps and ridges on the inside of knitted items as I am. Everyone who has tried them on and looked at them say they're just fine, but I'm all Princess and the Pea with this stuff, so I think it's just my personal sensitivities creating a bias there.

This week, as long as I'm suitably thrifty, I get a trip to the LYS to buy yarn for more belated Christmas gifts - but the recipients know about them, and even went with me to the LYS to look at yarn, so they know what they're in for. One of them is getting the Fishtrap Lace Scarf, in grey - I'll ask for advice on what kind of yarn, as I want a nice drape (it's more accessory than neckwarmer), and the other is Broadstreet from Knitty, and I'm looking at plum, perhaps in a tweed. I can't wait to go - visiting the LYS is a little bit like going to church. I approach each shelf with a reverent hush and can almost hear the heavenly chorus when I touch something new and pretty. It's magical.

Off to work for me.