Category: Knitting (Page 1 of 4)

2018 Ravelry Challenge

This year Ravelry has added a “challenge” section to their project page, where you can sign up for a number of projects you want to complete in a year, and then add them to your queue, assigning them a completion date of sometime in 2018. This year I added a few things to my challenge, trying to be lenient on myself due to life more than likely getting in the way.

I’ve seen a lot of people knit the rose city rollers and I am hoping they don’t take very much time. I’m determined to FINALLY learn the fish lips kiss heel that I purchased two years ago and have never managed to actually knit, and I want to get those sock scraps used up by starting a memory blanket.

Will I actually complete any of these projects? Who knows, it’s nice to have them organized and planned out though.

Choosing a Pattern [Indie Design Gift-a-long]

I spent most of my free time yesterday evening on Ravelry, looking through the 300+ designers who are participating this year in the indie design gift-a-long and hunting for the perfect sock pattern. Eventually I stumbled onto ‘Forest Canopy Socks‘ by Cynthia Levy, a [pattern that looked beautiful due to the lace and ribbing, but not too complicated so that it would be beyond my skills. I’ve only been knitting for two years, and this sock really has a nice wow factor without being something that I think would confuse me too much.

I purchased the pattern using the indie design gift-a-long code (25% off!) and took a look at the pattern before bed. One thing that really impressed me and confirmed that I made the right choice is that this pattern is written beautifully. It’s charted with simple instructions between the charts, and I’m just so pleased I picked it.

I’ll be knitting it in my January Yarns Llama Sock yarn, which is a llama, merino, nylon blend. I’ve never knit with llama fiber before, and I’m really interested to see how it knits up.

We have until December 31st to complete our projects (you can craft as many as time allows) and if you manage to complete them and post them in the FO category you become eligible for prizes. I don’t have a whole lot of time to knit, but I am really hoping I can finish this pair of socks in time to enter them.

Honestly, I’m just so excited about this whole thing. If you’re participating let me know in comments! If you’re interested in seeing the designers and their patterns you can check it out in this thread.

Indie Design Gift-a-Long

This will be the 5th year that the event has ran over on Ravelry, and it’s a fantastic way to learn about some indie designers, and get some great discounts on their stuff.

300+ indie designers are participating, and I’ll be on the search for some knit designs for toddlers, as well as some new sock designs. I don’t have any designers in mind yet, but I participated last year and I never fail to find a whole bunch of really neat things to pick up.

For more details, you can read below:

What is Gift-A-Long? It’s a multi-designer promotion to help you kick your holiday gift-making into high gear!

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is a 6 week long KAL/CAL of holiday gifts made from patterns designed by a rather extensive list of independent designers. From November 21, 2017 at 8:00 pm US EST to December 31, 2017 at midnight US EST there will be fun games, contests, and 8 KAL/CALs that will help you get your holiday knitting and crocheting done with companionship and fun! From November 21, 2017 at 8:00 pm US EST to November 28th at 11:59pm US EST tons of indie designers will be discounting between 10 – 20 of their patterns 25% for this event. Use coupon code: giftalong2017. You can read all about the details in this post: click here link coming soon!or on the FAQ page in our group pages. link coming soon!

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!

Star Wars Christmas Ball

I made a lovely practice ball first before attempting what I really wanted which was a Star Wars themed tree ornament. The pattern (found on Ravelry) called for fingering yarn, but I did it with sport, and size 1 double pointed needles. The problem is during the construction of the trial one I snapped my dpn when it came to closing up the ball. Doing those ktog were really difficult on the needles and involved a lot of bending.

I started a second one in fingering – and realized my gauge was way off. There was no way I was going to be able to close the ball up with that size, so I scrapped the entire project and started over, this time using red and green sport yarn. It went much better, but once again I snapped one of my wooden dpn.

If I want to continue to make these adorable little Christmas balls I’m going to either have to replace my wooden dpn with metal ones (and hope I don’t warp them too much) or start using magic loop (I know how to magic loop but I don’t enjoy it, my stitches seem to have long runs that way). I have 21 of the styrofoam balls, enough for a really nice collection of hand knit tree ornaments, themed or otherwise. This year I’m trying to have all my ornaments be hand made as a surprise for my husband when he comes home from depot for Christmas. Me and llama bean are going to be making some salt dough cookie ornaments for the tree this weekend. I haven’t made those since I was in elementary school so I hope they turn out.

I have been taking a bit of a break from knitting my shawl, I worked on it pretty regularly until I got to the feather / fan portion and then set it aside. That will be something I need to pick back up before too long. I just haven’t really felt like dealing with a pattern that I have to follow along with, and I needed a bit of a break. The yarn is an absolute dream to work with so I’m sure I’ll get back to it before too long.

The Importance of Quality

I bought a package of 7cm Styrofoam balls with the idea that I could knit custom made Christmas balls for my tree which is sorely lacking in the decoration department. They would be quick little knits that didn’t require a lot of technical finesse. Or so I thought.

I struggled for hours trying to complete the first ball. The yarn was dragging along my double pointed needles to the point where I was getting blisters from pushing the needles against my fingertips. After reaching the half way point I was tempted to throw the entire project in the garbage, but I kept on because the ornament was pretty cute.

Safe for kids and pets, they were personal to me and I really wanted to complete a test version before dedicating myself to an actual pattern.

By the time I completed the ornament I was completely fed up and doubting my knitting skills. Being self taught means I am constantly learning, and some projects are just beyond me. Then I took a closer look at the yarn I was using. It’s about 15 years old, ancient 2-ply yarn in acrylic.

The more I thought about it the more I was convinced that the problem didn’t actually lay with me at all, but my issues stemmed from using a poor quality product. The yarn was like trying to slide wax up and down the needles, and by the end my fingertips were bloody. It was horrible.

So the next day I bravely started a second Christmas ball, this time in the stash colours I wanted, using “good” yarn, or at least better. Still acrylic, but much newer.

It made a world of difference.

I’m on the colourwork portion already and the Christmas ball is just flying along. I’m not having any of the difficulties in doing my increases that I was previously. The yarn glides along the needle easily (as it should) and I’m not fighting with it. Of course that being said, I DID break a size 1 dpn because I was stressed out and gripping it too tight. Even our supplies have their breaking points (har) it seems. I’ll need to get  myself a new one before too long, I use them for socks. It was disappointing, but I was incredibly pleased that the knitting itself is going very well and as it turned out I was right. The problem wasn’t me, it was the quality of the materials I was using.

Just because you fail at something doesn’t mean you should completely give up. Sometimes, changing just a single aspect can yield a very different and far more enjoyable result.

Shawl Progress

I took a few days off from knitting. As much as I enjoy the cold fall weather, my hands have been giving me some pretty bad aches and pains, so I’ve been trying to get them feeling a bit better before I did very much more. My shawl is slowly coming along though. It’s worked in two sections, first you knit the center panel which is just plain knit stitch with a few knit-front-back and yarn overs that increase the size of it slowly and leave a really nice boarder along the wingspan, then after I’ll be doing some lace work, a fan pattern. Since I’m working with worsted yarn instead of lace or fingering it should be a nice good size, and since it’s an amazing 100% marino from Malabrigo it feels like I’m knitting with clouds in my fingers.

This is the first time I’ve knit with a “good” yarn, a fancy one. I’ve stuck to brands from Wal-Mart or Michaels or Knitpicks ever since I started knitting because that’s what I could afford. There’s nothing wrong with those yarns, you should knit within your budget – this stuff was an amazing gift from a friend and I had been looking for the perfect pattern to use it on. I’m hoping to be able to wrap myself up in this oversized shawl in my reading corner with a good book come winter. It will depend on when I actually finish knitting it though, of course. I think the longest part will be knitting the center as I’m doing now. I’m just over 50% of the way through. I am restricted to knitting nights and during naps because my son is in the “oh that’s fascinating!” stage of life where he wants to play with everything, including pulling and eating yarn. I know I’ll get there, it will just take some time. In the mean time, I can’t help but squish and play with this yarn and go on and on about it. It’s just that beautiful.

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.

Knitting Hats for Winter

It’s getting pretty close to winter here in British Columbia, Canada and my kid has out grown all of the cute little newborn hats that he got last year when he was born. I made him a handful, a little pumpkin and some plain ones. He was so small that in the NICU his hat could have been worn as clothes.

Instead of buying him a new hat that he would just outgrow in another year I decided to knit him one. Hats are fast knits and it’s rewarding to see something you’ve made being worn. He’s too young to appreciate anything fancy, so I picked a simple pattern by Tin Can Knits called Barley.

There’s an issue with the pattern before the decreases. You end on a knit row and continue with another knit row to establish the decreases when you should end on a purl row. That’s the weird wonky line at the top before the hat starts to curve. It doesn’t affect the warmth of the item at all and it’s something my kid certainly won’t care about so I decided to just leave it be and finish knitting it. It’s made from an extra soft acrylic yarn from KnitPicks called Might Stitch. The hat is (of course) too big for him but I figure he’ll grow into it. Hopefully not too quickly.

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!

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