Category: Crochet

I Love Yarn

I like to think I’ve come a long way in the two years since I’ve taught myself to knit. When I first started I didn’t know anything about yarn, I didn’t know there was a difference in the type of yarn used, and I didn’t have a preference. My “collection” (if it could be called that) was mostly harsh acrylic stuff sold at Michaels or Wal-Mart because that’s what I could afford. As time went on and as I began knitting more, I discovered other sites. One I’ve used for a very long time has been Knit Picks. I love some of their yarns, but they also cater to the low budget crowd. Unfortunately I’ve found that over the years the quality has started to lack, or maybe it’s just that I become more and more in love with smaller dye companies.

In any case, once a year Knit Picks has an amazing sale, around the time of Black Friday in the US. I have only bought a small amount of yarn this year, so I saved up for it eagerly.

Turns out, I didn’t actually want that much. I did pick up a set of size 1 metal knitting needles so I can keep making my Christmas ornaments, and I picked up a size 1 set of wooden knitting needles to replace the two that I’ve snapped. I also picked up two skeins of hawthorne that were marked down to $5.50 because I absolutely love that yarn for socks, I’ve already knit a pair in the past, and I picked up two skeins of felici in a colour that I can’t remember. Neutral tones I think. I already have quite a bit of felici in my stash, but why not.

I love yarn. It brings me to a very happy place. I also participated in a yarn exchange on Instagram where you got to grant wishes for people and have one (or many, depending) of your own granted. I found a woman looking for some fiber so I sent her a few ounces of that, and for my wish I requested indie dyed yarn, which another kind soul offered to fulfill. Some companies even offered free shipping if you purchased yarn from them and specified that it was for the gifting which I thought was fantastic and a great way to promote your business. Sometimes, social media can be pretty neat.

I found a cute little sweater with whales I want to make for llama bean this winter before we move to the prairies, and of course I myself could use some mittens, and socks. A never ending supply of knit socks. Right now I haven’t had the time because llama bean has been going through a bit of a stage (I say as I type this one handed) but that won’t always be the case.

All in all I’m happy with my purchase and can’t wait for it to get here!

Dusting Tom Thumb

Not too long I bought my first spinning wheel. I didn’t know enough about buying them at the time, but I was impatient and bought it anyway. It was a used wheel called a “Tom Thumb” which is from around 1980, made in New Zealand. It’s missing a few parts, most notably four knobs that match the two I have. One goes to the orifice hook, one goes to the second lazy kate, and the third goes to.. I can’t remember what. The maiden head was cracked and my husband managed to sand and repair it last year. We had intended on refinishing the entire piece and getting it running properly, but then kiddo made his early appearance and it got put aside.

I took it out today to give it a bit of love, shine it up and make sure she still runs (which she does). I have it set for double tension right now, but I need a piece to hold the footman to the wheel, I’m using a paperclip right now and lets just say it’s awkward. Ideally I’d like some sort of nut or bolt along with some felt so that the footman doesn’t rub and make a lot of noise (like it does now). I also bought a new orifice hook for it, it won’t match exactly, but that’s alright. In the meantime I set out to see if I could find a woodworker who could make matching knobs for me. I’d like to restore this wheel to her former glory, it’s an incredibly solid wheel that I’m sure has seen some good years.

Ideally, in the (far) future, I’d like to purchase a new wheel. Maybe an Ashcroft Traveller. I also own a few drop spindles (one wooden and two 3D printed) that are a lot of fun to use. In order to get better at spinning you need to practice practice practice practice – and I just haven’t had the time on top of everything else. If it’s a hobby you enjoy though, to make the time and find it some where. So that’s what I’ll do. You can see the yarn I’ve spun so far over on my Ravelry page – some people have amazing yarn. That’s the level I want to get to, and I will, with practice.

Crafting Pet Peeves

Hey, it happens. Sometimes things bug us or rub us the wrong way. Today while I was working on my scarf I came across a pretty big pet peeve. In the screenshot above you’ll see one skein of yarn that transitions between pink /purple / blue and various shades of those. It’s ‘chroma’ by knitpicks, and it also varies in thickness from thick almost bulky, to thin, almost lace. The problem is smack dab in the middle of that picture where it abruptly shifts colours with no transition even though the rest of the scarf has transitions.

Turns out the yarn was split in two places, and it threw everything off.

This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I don’t mind the thick / thin consistency as it’s advertised when you purchase the yarn, but I don’t like splits in yarn, and I don’t like the issues caused by those splits. In this case that bright pink should have slowly transitioned to a light purple and then to a blue but instead a huge chunk was missing (all of the blue, and two purple transitions). I didn’t have enough yarn to fix the problem manually so because I was already near the end of the scarf I decided to just try to ignore it and cary on.

I’ve been working on this scarf since August 19th. Scarves are a LOT of work – and this is probably the first and only time I’ll make a scarf in fingering weight (she says unconvincingly). It is much quicker to knit something in bulky weight yarn, or at least worsted. I tend to like fingering weight yarn because it’s lovely sock yarn which is my favourite thing to knit. My yarn stash has a LOT of fingering weight (you can find me over on Ravelry as Stargrace, of course). Thankfully, the scarf is now done, and it looks great on me. We don’t get a lot of really cold weather here, so I wanted to finish it in time for fall to get the most use out of it. It’s one of the only pieces I’ve actually knit for myself.

Do you have any knitting or crochet pet peeves? What do you do to combat them (if anything can be done) and how do you avoid them from happening in the first place? Let me know in comments!

Knitting / Crochet Goals for… 2018?

I like goals, and I like lists. There are lots of crafty projects I wish I could do that I haven’t mastered the skills for yet. In case you’ve forgotten, I’m completely self taught when it comes to both knitting and crochet. I’ve been knitting for two years this September, and crocheting off and on for a number of years. I find crochet very difficult, knitting was much easier to pick up. As such I’ve included a list of ‘goals’ that I’d like to accomplish when it comes to my two crafting passions for 2018. Hopefully I get a few of them done, but we’ll just have to see.

  • Two sided knitting. Oy. How many tries have I given this one now? How many failed attempts? My brain just can’t seem to wrap itself around this form of knitting. It’s a shame too, because it’s absolutely beautiful and I have the yarn for a magnificently geeky blanket if I could ONLY double knit. I want to learn this more than anything else. Practice, practice, practice and then practice some more.
  • Crochet more than single crochet. I can do granny squares (I did make a granny square blanket after all) and I can do simple single crochet, but that is as far as my crochet skills go. I don’t seem to be able to keep track of half double crochet, or triple crochet, or any of that. I get a few rounds in and then my mind goes blank and I end up reverting back to single crochet. Every time. I want to learn the more complicated stitches.
  • Crochet more amigurumi. Pictured above is my small collection (minus my octopus which is on my desk living happily). The “teddy bear from hell” is a very failed experiment when I was first getting started but I still love it. Norbert the unicorn is my pride and joy, and I’d really like to attempt more cute little guys to add to my collection.
  • Fix my first ever knit socks. This is just a matter of finding the socks, and finding the time. I knit them before I knew how to do the kitchener stitch and the toes are completely wonky to the point of being uncomfortable. I’d like to rip back the toes, re-stitch them and close them up properly. If I can remember where they are. Maybe in my yarn bin…
  • Fix my first ever knit shirt. I love the shirt, it fits, and it’s lovely except for one major issue. I used a non-stretchy bind off, which means that there’s no give when you try to wear it around your waist or when you put it on or take it off. Having some give is absolutely essential otherwise you’re just wearing a tight piece of yarn around your hips. I need to first make sure I have some spare yarn, then remove the current bind off (just a regular plain one) and find and learn a stretchy bind off. Once that’s done I’ll have a new shirt I can wear. Again this one comes down to time.

Those are the main goals I’d like to accomplish – and I think it’s a pretty reasonable list. We’ll just have to see how it goes. Do you have any crafty goals you’re working towards? Let me know in comments! Tomorrow we’ll have a regularly schedule gaming post.

Projects of 2015

UntitledI know I haven’t been as diligent about posting here as I should be, and I don’t have a very good excuse. Since we’re getting closer to 2016, I thought I’d talk a bit about the projects that I finished in 2015. Keep in mind that I’m still pretty new to knitting, at least in my eyes. I started trying to learn many years ago and I just never ‘got it’ – then in September of 2015 when I attempted again it finally all just started to make sense. My first big goal was to knit socks, which I have now completed 2 pairs of (and I love them). I’ve got another post lined up about my knitting goals for 2016, so I won’t get into too many more details about that yet. What projects did I finish in 2015?

A baby cardigan was my first ever completed project. It was done flat, and I had to seam it. I didn’t even know then that there were actually ‘types’ of seams, and the poor thing is going to be frogged because it just looks absolutely horrid and I can’t imagine a child actually wearing the item. The second thing I made was a baby blanket and it’s supposed to be in a basket stitch but for some reason my stitches are way off and things are crazy. Therefor it’s another frogged project. The yarn is beautiful so I’ll find a better use for it. Next up were a pair of fingerless mitts. Now, these were much better, still knit flat (I hadn’t ventured into knitting in the round yet) but they fit me and they weren’t half bad. Unfortunately they also were not seamed very well, and now they’re falling apart. I’d like to knit myself some proper gloves or mitts before too long.

Then came a batch of random dish towels. I learned my first lace stitches and practiced making my knitting even. I eventually gave those away to a friend. The projects that followed took on a much better look, as I followed up with a baby top, my first pair of socks, a colour work hat, and then a little mini lace headband. I still have each of those items and like them quite a bit. Then came a bit of a hat phase. I knit one minecraft hat for a friend of mine, and then another friend asked if I would knit her three of them for her family. Then came a lacework hat, and after all of those were done (and I swore off hats) I still ended up completing two more. A deer hat for my youngest brother, and a Star Wars hat for myself. I really enjoy colour work, that’s for sure.

Between all those hats I knit a tardis dishcloth, a cable scarf, my first shawl (mostly garter stitch, very little actual lace), and a spa day facecloth. 17 projects in total, using 5,157 yard of yarn. Not bad for someone who just started in September, I think. As always, please feel free to add me to your Ravelry friends list if you happen to frequent those forums. They’re absolutely fantastic, and I probably wouldn’t have knit half the things I did without the motivation and encouragement of the groups I joined, along with the amazing designers who have both paid and free patterns for people. It really is a great place for knitters and crocheters. Like I said, 2016 is just around the corner, and I have some big ideas in mind for what I’d like to accomplish – but that will have to wait for another post.

 

Yarn Sales? YARN SALES!

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Since I just recently started knitting (September of this year) I’m still learning about the ins and outs of yarn purchases. What I do know is that the yarn I usually get from Michaels (the only local craft store in my area) is not as nice (also the price is very expensive) as the yarn I get from say.. KnitPicks while they have their cyber monday sale going on. That means that most of last week was spent stocking up on a lot of yarn. I mean, a LOT. Probably too much. OK definitely too much. I do have quite a few patterns in mind and added to my queue which should take care of most of these, but here’s the grand total of what I’m waiting to show up at my door. They should arrive throughout the week and into next week, hopefully:

  • Lint Shaver
  • Locking Knitting Stitch Markers
  • Blocking matts
    2 Cobblestone Heather Brava Worsted
    2 Dublin Brava Worsted
    2 Baker Street Felici Special Reserve
    2 Rainbow Felici Fingering
    2 Fedora WotA Sport Yarn
    2 Forest Heather WotA Sport Yarn
    2 Thyme WotA Sport Yarn
    1 Black Brava Sport
    1 Dublin Brava Sport
    1 Silver Brava Sport
    1 Umber Heather Brava Sport
    1 White Brava Sport
    2 Rainbow Felici Fingering
    2 Time Traveler Felici Fingering
    2 Black Stroll Glimmer
    2 Sagebrush Palette
    1 Blue Varigated Special BUY
    1 Denim Varigated Special BUY
    1 Fashion Varigated Special BUY
    1 Peacock Varigated Special BUY
    2 Purple Varigated Special BUY
    1 Red Varigated Special BUY
    2 Black Brava Sport
    1 Celestial Brava Sport
    1 Dublin Brava Sport
    1 Eggplant Brava sport
    1 Fairytale Brava sport
    1 Grass Brava Sport
    1 Lady Slipper Brava Sport
    1 Marina Brava Sport
    1 Red Brava Sport
    1 Solstice Heather Brava Sport
    1 Wine Brava Sport
    2 Fanciful Felici
    5 Clover Palette
    2 Jay Stroll Glimmer
    2 Potion Stroll Glimmer

Most of the yarn was less than $2 per skein, the felici was a bit more, but it’s amazing sock yarn. The blocking mats I really needed since I have nothing to lay projects out on at the moment, and I still have my shawl ongoing. I bought brava sport in colours to make a hue shift afghan, and I saw a stranded colourwork mitt done with stroll glimmer as the background colour that was just amazing. I’m hoping that this is enough yarn to keep me busy for the next year, and my goal is not to buy any yarn at all, but instead to work on my knitting skills, gifts, and enjoy my hobby. Don’t forget, if you’re on Ravelry you can add me as a friend here. I’ve got my projects posted, my yarn stash (to date) posted (I haven’t added the KnitPicks sale items yet as I haven’t received them) and I’m pretty active on the forums in a few groups that I have found.

This weekend I started working on my 2nd pair of socks, the first sock should be completed today. It’s amazing how much faster they go once you’ve made a pair, my first pair took me a week per sock, these ones are three days per sock (approximately). They’re a pair of patterned socks, since my first pair were plain I wanted to keep challenging myself. More pictures in tomorrow’s post!

Teaching Myself to Knit – The How To

StartLike I mentioned in my introduction post, I first learned how to knit from my Dad a long time ago, but I couldn’t get very far with it. Determined to actually complete a piece or two, I picked it up about a month ago and started refreshing myself with the very basics. That meant casting on, and the knit stitch (also called garter stitch) where you just knit every row. Once I was comfortable with the knit stitch I started adding purls to my work, and I experimented with a few well known patterns to create some dishcloths that were not just done in garter stitch but also had some design to them. Dishcloths are great because not only can you always find a use for them (they’re not just for dishes, they work great in the shower too) but you can never have too many, and they make great gifts. They’re also very fast to knit up, so you don’t feel like you’re stuck on one giant project.

Ravelry is a great place to find patterns. There are free ones and paid ones. You can favourite the ones you like best and then print them out (or in my case, write them out) for later. So far everything I’ve practiced has been knit flat, and I have no experience knitting in the round. I do own circular needles, but I’ve only used them for large pieces like blankets. Learning how to knit in the round is something that I hope to attempt soon (and of course I’ll continue to document my progress here). For now knitting flat is a good way to practice my skills and to familiarize myself with the basics (again) (and again and again). It’s really important to keep practicing even when you find it frustrating. Even now I can see the progress that I’ve made in a very short time. Starting with knit stitches, up to purl, and now I’ve started experimenting with lace stitches (which I really enjoy but they’re very easy to mess up. I’ll go into more details about this later). I’ve got four little dishcloths all knit up that I’m going to send to a friend this week (along with the baby blanket and a baby sweater I knit) and I hope they get some use out of them. It helps me practice my hobby, and keeps it from all collecting in my home. After all what’s the point of knitting if you’re not going to share it with everyone else!

Now that I’m comfortable with knits and purls as well as YO (yarn over) and Sl (slip) with a few other terms tossed in there (psso; pass slip stitch over) I think the next thing I’d like to practice is knitting in the round. In order to learn the previous terms I watched a lot of YouTube videos. It’s amazing what you can find on there these days. I’ll link them in another post, because they’re just incredibly handy to have, especially if you just need a refresher on what a particular term means. I’m wondering if I’m ready for socks yet. The hardest part (I believe) from what I’ve read is turning the heel. Socks are made up of different parts, and I think the cuff and the leg I could do easily enough, as well as the heel flap. Then you turn the heel and knit the bottom of the heel or whatever that is called (is there a technical term for it?) the rest of the foot, and the toe. I do have three different Craftsy classes on knitting socks for beginners, as well as some beginner patterns from Ravelry, but I still find patterns incredibly daunting. I just got my first set of dpn (double pointed needles) last week, and I’m eager to break them in. Maybe I’ll practice knitting the cuff / leg / in the round first until I’m comfortable with that, and then when I think I’ve got it down I can move on to the rest of the sock. Thoughts?

Yarn? I’ve got a bit..

I don’t own a lot of yarn, and I suppose in a way that’s a good thing. I guess it would also depend on your notion of ‘a lot’. The majority of my yarn comes from generic stores like Michaels which is all that I could find in my area, but I’ve started to branch out a bit and explore what ‘good’ yarn actually is. Price is always a factor but I’ve heard that buying good yarn is important, and I want to learn more about fiber. Right now when I look at yarn it’s hard for me to decide if it’s ‘good’ or not. The more different types of yarn I use, the more I’m able to decide what I personally like to use. Some yarn is a lot more coarse than other types. Some splits very easily and makes it difficult to knit with. Those types of things begin a long list in my learning process.

With my lack of knowledge it’s no real surprise that my first purchases were mostly acrylic worsted weight yarns. I picked up some sock yarn as well, this is also called ‘sport’ yarn, or it’s shown by the number 2 on the package indicating the weight. Very light.

One of my first ‘real’ yarn purchases (which I haven’t used yet) was ‘Hawthorne Sport Multi Yarn‘ by KnitPicks. It’s a combination of wool and nylon, which should make fantastic socks. Unfortunately I don’t actually know how to knit socks quite yet, so I haven’t had a reason to use the yarn, but I’m looking forward to it when I do (remember socks are my dream goal to complete one day). I also purchased a bunch of ‘Mighty Stitch’ worsted yarn. This is acrylic, and while it IS incredibly soft, it also splits very easily which made it difficult to work with. I bought 8 skeins total of the Mighty Stitch and I’ve already completed a baby blanket as well as two dishcloths. I’d like to complete another baby blanket (my cousins are both expecting and I want to send one to each of them) and I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with the rest. We’ll see I suppose.

Last week I added two new yarn types to my collection. One was 10 skeins of Brava Bulky in ‘Fairy Tale’ that I haven’t quite decided what to do with yet. I was thinking I might make a blanket for myself since I don’t actually have one that I’ve made, or I might make it into a sort of shawl that I can wear around the house draped like I would a blanket. The yarn has some pretty negative reviews but I liked the price and decided to give it a try anyway. Another example of where you pay for what you get.

The second type came free with my purchase for September, and it’s Brava Sport¬†¬†and I got five skeins of that. There’s a lot of complaints about this acrylic yarn but since it was free who am I to turn down yarn! I have no idea what I’ll knit up with it yet. I used to really like darker colours for knitting but the more I work with it the more I prefer light colours. They seem to show off patterns better.

What are your favourite yarns to work with? Do you have a particular store online where you like to purchase from? So far I’m only familiar with Knitpicks, but I’m always open to suggestions so if there are others out there with good pricing and especially shipping to Canada I would be all ears!

For now, the large bin in the living room is holding all of my yarn neatly. How big is your yarn stash?

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