Category: Knitting (Page 2 of 4)

Knitting for Me

I’ve always wanted to be the type of person who wears scarves like Rory in Gilmore girls. Not just because it’s winter, but also a stylish accessory. Despite this desire, I don’t actually own a single scarf and I decided that should change. Knitting a scarf may seem like a simple thing, but I actually find them to be some of the biggest projects to take on, second only to a blanket. They take FOREVER, they’re often boring so it’s easy to get side tracked, but I can’t deny that once they’re completed they’re beautiful. I made a cable scarf for my MIL a few years ago out of bulky yarn (a faster knit) so why I decided that my second scarf should be done in fingering, I’m not sure.

Pictured above is the scarf I have been working on for myself. It’s knit with Knitpicks chroma yarn which slowly changes colours as you go along. The end effect is beautiful, and it is keeping me interested because I love seeing the colours change. The pattern itself is incredibly simple:

  • Row 1: [knit, purl], repeat [] to end
  • Row 2: Slip first stitch purl wise with yarn in front, [knit, purl], repeat [] to end

That’s it. The end result is a beautiful ribbed pattern that makes a SUPER stretchy soft reversible scarf. No, mine isn’t perfect. When I was first starting the pattern I wasn’t convinced I was doing it properly and instead of frogging it back to the start I just carried on, and there’s a dropped stitch that I ignored for 9 rows that I had to pick up and carry through and fix – but the scarf is still beautiful (to me at least), and I can’t wait to finish it. I’m about 40% done knitting it so far. I heard some where that scarves should be as long as you are tall, so I’m aiming for this scarf to be at least five feet long. I imagine I’ll finish it some time in October which will give me plenty of time to get some good use out of it this winter.

That gives me time before Christmas to get some smaller projects done as gifts (more about that another time). I spend a lot of time knitting for other people, and it feels nice to be making something just for me.

Knitting Progress

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Tom Thumb Spinning Wheel

February has been a pretty nice month as far as fiber crafts go. I have spun about 1/2 of my corriedale on a top whorl drop spindle, dyed the other half, and added more fiber to my slowly growing collection. I also managed to pick up an amazing deal on a Tom Thump spinning wheel. Very little is actually known about these wheels it turns out – but that’s the joy of spinning, wheels may look different, but they all have the same basic parts, that change depending on the type of spinning / wheel they are created for.

In the case of the Tom Thumb, it can be set up for scotch or double drive tension. It’s a single treadle, with a built in lazy kate. Mine came with three bobbins, the flyer and the flyer whorl, and is intact with the maidens, but it is missing a few smaller pieces that I can hopefully replicate. It’s missing the threading hook, and the knob for scotch tension. It’s also missing a pin out of the footman to keep the arm attached to the drive wheel, but that’s an easy fix with a split pin and some washers. The bottom of the wheel is signed “Tom Thumb – Handmade from New Zealand Kauri” and it’s an exceptionally sturdy wheel. I wish I could learn more about it, but as I said I’ve only found one single article that mentions the wheel here. A nice lady was selling it on Kijiji in my area, and I’m glad I picked it up. Once I get it fixed and in working order (basically attaching the footman properly) I’ll be learning to spin the rest of my corriedale, and I’m pretty excited about that.

This month has been a bit slow in terms of finished projects. I did complete my knit-a-long afghan square, it was double seed stitch and a pleasure to knit. I also finally completed the rainbow socks that I had begun in January. I really need to learn to knit two-at-a-time so that I don’t procrastinate quite so much. I’ve been working away on my entrelac scarf, which I may turn into a cowl, I finished my antler hat, and I’ve also been working on the lace shawl mystery kal that I’ve had on-going for some time. I hope to finish that up before too long, I’m just getting to the lace portions. I know I haven’t been as ‘active’ with my knitting as I was in January, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve been learning a lot, spinning a lot (which I really enjoy), learning to dye yarn and all of the rest. I call that some great progress!

Challenge Yourself

Entrelac2I tried for years (unsuccessfully) to teach myself to knit. I could do the basic stitch, but I couldn’t purl and I had no idea how increases or decreases worked. I kept at it off and on over the years, never progressing past flat scarf / blanket like objects, until September 2015 when it just all suddenly clicked. In that short amount of time I moved from knitting flat blankets to doing socks, lace, hats, and other items. One thing I try to do as I progress through my knitting is teach myself new techniques, and to challenge myself.

Learning these techniques is always much easier if you have someone else trying to learn it with you, someone you can ping ideas off of. When a friend suggested we start up a KAL together, I was ecstatic. I found some great videos on YouTube about this particular entrelac scarf, and before the day was out, we had learned this new technique. It’s not the most professional looking piece, but I really love the way the colours shift.

We then discovered a downside. Knitting entrelac, especially on a scarf, is very boring. The pattern is not complicated enough to be interesting but not easy enough to be mindless (so that you can do other things, like watching TV). I’ve got the squares down but still need to pay attention and look at the instructions for the left and right triangles. Plus I’m doing mine in fingering weight yarn, with two extra repeats. Lovely? Sure, but I am having a difficult time keeping myself interested in the piece, and that doesn’t bode well.

Still, we learned something new, and that’s awesome. Not every new stitch or project has to be something you love to the moon and back. On occasion you’re going to try a technique only to find that it just isn’t the one for you.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Sock Madness Forever

20160120_135517_resizedOne of the most satisfying things I ever knit was my first pair of socks. Then the second pair of socks, and the first sock to my third pair. They can be customized so many ways, with so many different parts, it’s a great way to learn new techniques. Once you’ve made one sock the “parts” of a sock rarely change. How you decide to knit them will. There’s a cuff, a leg, a heel, sometimes a gusset, a foot, and a toe. You can knit them cuff down, toe up, two at a time, add beads, zippers, lace.. the sky really is the limit to these versatile items.

That’s how I found myself looking into the ‘Sock Madness Forever‘ group on Ravelry. Their group details read:

Sock Madness is an international sock knitting competition based loosely on the basketball competition known as March Madness. There are 7 rounds of patterns. The first pattern is reasonably straightforward and as the rounds progress the socks become increasingly more complex in design.

Every registered competitor who completes a pair of socks in round 1 will be placed on a team with approximately 40 players per team. It is announced ahead of each round how many will proceed to the next pattern/round. By the 7th pattern there will be one member from each team left to battle it out.

I decided to sign up – and I’m incredibly excited. I know I’m still a new knitter, and I may not be as fast as others on the team, but I’ve put those details into my registration email and hopefully I get sorted appropriately. There are so many members that it can be hard to catch a lot of the chatter, but I am not going to let that deter me. I believe this is the 10th year that the competition has taken place, and that is pretty amazing. There’s already a ‘warm up sock’ pattern posted, a sock called ‘Mad Mix‘ and it’s supposed to look like a hot mess, using up bits and pieces of other sock yarns. I haven’t decided if I’ll warm up using this sock pattern yet, as I do have a few other WIP I’d like to complete, but we’ll see. The group also has quite a few rules, but they really help out when it comes to the competition.

This week I’ve also started my first adventures into spinning yarn from fiber,  but that’s a post for another day!

Getting Started With Spinning

Corriedalte natural wool roving combed topThis week I have taken a little break from knitting and swapped over to crochet. I’m not very good at crochet, but I know that takes practice. I’m working on a small amigurumi baby unicorn that you can find on Ravelry, and while I’ve been working on it I’ve also been reading up on spinning and everything that’s entailed with that.

Ever since I started knitting I have envied the yarns I saw spun up and hand dyed. Beautiful skeins with a homemade quality to them. Some obviously better than others, but that comes from time and practice in your craft, like any other.

When I first started getting interested in crochet I purchased a top whirl drop spindle, but I have yet to use it. With my new found love of knitting and all things fibre I decided to pick it up again. If I enjoy it as much as I think I might, my “end goal” is to save up for a spinning wheel. My LYS (local yarn store) sells a few models, and I’ve been looking into what I may potentially want in a wheel. I will probably stay away from second hand wheels as I’m not versed enough on what to look for in a smooth working spinning wheel.

They can be quite pricey. The one I’m looking at ranges at around $450 and it’s a beginner model. Then you have to figure out whether you want single or double treadle. This article here went into a lot of the particulars and gave me a better idea of what was involved.

Before I even think of buying a wheel I want to try out the drop spindle, and so that’s how I ended up buying a few things of roving combed top. The first one I purchased is corriedale (that’s the sheep it comes from), which is supposed to be a good starting wool because of the long draft. Draft is the section of yarn you pull out away from the bunch to spin. The braid is not dyed, and is a combination of grey / white.

I also bought a second type, this one merino dyed in a crab apple red. Merino is much harder to spin for a beginner, and even more so on a drop spindle. The draft is very short. That being said it’s also an incredibly nice fiber and I’m really looking forward to experimenting and practicing with both.

A lot of people think that spinning your own yarn is cheaper than buying yarn – but it comes down to around the same price or even more. One thing to keep in mind is that it takes a lot more ‘hobby time’ to prepare / spin / knit yarn rather than just knitting it, so you may be getting more “value” out of your money if you do the whole process yourself. That’s what I’m hoping to do. If you have any good fibre suppliers that you want to share (especially those in Canada) please don’t hesitate to let me know! For now I’m still stumbling around getting myself familiar with the price ranges and terms.

Finding Inspiration

20160119_145559_resizedSometimes there are so many pattern options on Ravelry that you’ll spend hours combing through them instead of working on your projects. If you’ve got the winter blues (or you’re just feeling poorly) this can be even more apparent. This week I’ve been struggling to figure out what I want to work on next. Since I’m such a new knitter (I’ve been knitting since September 2015) there are lots of techniques that I haven’t mastered and lots of projects that are still too difficult for me. I’ve been feeling my way around trying to find the ‘best for me’ learning path, but it can be a frustrating experience. Take double knitting as an example. No matter how many times I practice I seem to get all wrapped up in the technicalities of it and by row 19 I’ve messed up so much that the original image is too hard to figure out. Frustrating, right?

I’ve got three WIP on the go right now. One is my second BKAL sock, the ones that are rainbow. I finished the first one last week and I adore it. The second is my baby blanket that I’ve been working off and on for the past few months. It’s an easy pattern but I get bored of it. The third project is my 2016 Sherwood MKAL which I love, but I have been feeling a bit lethargic so I put it aside in order to prevent mistakes. I’m almost up to the chart knitting portion and I’m excited for it but I’m also scared. It will be the first time I’ve attempted to read a lace chart pattern, and while they don’t look that complicated, I’m sure it’s very easy to make mistakes.

My queue is pretty barren too. I’ve got a newborn vertebrae in there that I’d like to knit with felici, along with the hue shift afghan but I don’t want to start that until my baby blanket is done. I’ve never knit mitered squares before, and I know I have a learning process to go through. I also have a simple shawl on there in the hopes of using up my Cascade Yarn kid seta, and I have the skywalker shawl in there which I’m hoping to do with a new batch of shadow lace from knitpicks that I bought from someone who was destashing – if it ever gets here. Mail has been a bit persnickety lately.

I also found someone who was destashing some hiyahiya interchangeable bamboo needles in the small size, and I decided to snag those while I could. I don’t expect that they’ll get here for some time yet (I’m not even sure if they’ve been sent at the time of this post) but I know I just need to learn some patience.

In the meantime I completed a quick headband this week while I took a short break from everything else. What inspires you when you’re feeling under the weather? What motivates you to pick up the needles and keep going on a project that may be putting you to sleep? Do you spend more time browsing patterns and FO on Ravelry and Instagram or do you discipline yourself into getting those projects done? Let me know!

Thursday: What’s on your needles?

20160111_161333_resized Like I mentioned in my last post, it’s easy to feel motivated when January rolls around. There’s so many KALs and projects just starting out and of course we’re all flashing our stash and making unreasonable goals (which is half of the fun). I find it harder to keep knitting projects going throughout the rest of the year. This year I’m knitting from my stash and I have a handful of WIP. I’m working on a MKAL shawl hosted by Sherwood Knits and I’m half way through the second clue. I hope to finish it up tomorrow just in time for the next one.

I’m also working on vanilla socks, hosted by the beginner’s knit-along group that I belong to. I’m almost done the first sock and I’ve been making them on 9″ circulars to try them out vs. DPN. So far I’m a huge fan. The third project I’m working on is also hosted by the beginner’s knit-along group, and that’s my BKAL blanket where we complete one square a month and then stitch them together. This months square is completed, so it’s not a WIP or on my needles any more, but it was until recently (it’s the picture featured in this post). The final project I’m working on is the Pine Forest Baby Blanket in a bright sunshine yellow. I also have enough yarn to make a second in a sky blue, and I’m hoping to gift them. The blankets are so soft and smushy it’s tempting to just keep them for myself. I enjoy having multiple projects on the go but on that same note you want to make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed. It’s easy to feel like you’re ‘falling behind’ and setting up goals that you can obtain and that won’t frustrate you is important. I had a double knit afghan on my to-do list but found that learning the skill on top of all of the other knitting that I wanted to get done was just frustrating me instead of giving me joy. For now I’ve set that project aside, and I’ll pick it up again when I’m feeling more confident about it. Double knitting is an intense technique, and as a beginner (yes, I still consider myself a beginner) I just found it overwhelming. I did manage to get to row 17/45 before I messed up beyond repair, but it didn’t relax me like my other knitting projects do, even the MKAL shawl is not so bad.

So what do you have on your needles this week? Let me know in comments!

New Needles, New Project

sharp_circular_needle_275mmYou may have noticed that I’ve redesigned the site slightly. After much debate, I decided to open an Etsy store and brand my knitting as “OK.Knits” (Okanagan Knits). I’m excited about this prospect even if I haven’t sold anything yet, it gives me some direction with my knitting. Items will be added slowly over time, with a few in stock of each. I don’t expect it will ever be an enormous money maker, but I am excited about the prospect none the less. I also have a facebook page dedicated to it, and a twitter account. Exciting times, no?

On the knitting front, today I received my 9″ hiyahiya circular sharp needles and I cast on almost right away. The beginner knit-along group that I belong to had a pair of vanilla socks up for a KAL this month, and hey who doesn’t need a third part of hand knit socks, especially since I have some very lovely yarn to go along with them. These socks are being knit with KnitPicks Stroll Glimmer (black), and KnitPicks Felici (Rainbow). I’m doing the cuff, heel, and toe, in the black, and the rest of the sock in rainbow. Unfortunately I’ve already noticed an issue with the felici, there’s some weird red bleeding of dye in the lime green portion (so far) but since it’s spread throughout the yarn it’s not something I’m going to worry about quite yet.

Knitting with the hiyahiya needles is an absolute dream. They’re incredibly light, and the cord bends very easily. It doesn’t catch on anything and I haven’t had any issues with my hands cramping up or anything like that. I’m very glad I got them, and along with them I got a pair of free stitch markers, thank you ACME Fibres! I’m very glad to have found a store that prices things in Canadian dollars and since she ships in envelops the cost isn’t a huge amount. I haven’t purchased any yarn from them yet since I have quite a bit of my own to work through, but I’m looking forward to it in the future. I did also check out the sales at WEBS (yarn.com) but their shipping costs to Canada are through the roof. I loaded up my cart with some of their yarn that was on sale only to discover that shipping costs would be equal to the cost of the yarn itself – plus it’s in USD, and with our Canadian dollar sitting at lower than .71 cents to the USD, it’s just better if I shop local, and shop within Canada.

So, with that being said, if you have suggestions for knitting / yarn related pretties, especially in Canada, either in the BC area or online, don’t hesitate to let me know in comments! Remember I’m still new so I’m always looking for my new favourite yarn to play with and promote while I narrow down my likes / dislikes.

Challenge: Fine Yarn Frenzy

26479I knew when KnitPicks announced their luxury yarn sale that I’d probably end up getting something. I got a gift card for Christmas from my sister-in-law and brother, but even before then I had added a few things to my wishlist. Of course I wasn’t wrong. I ended up buying 4 skeins of chroma in fingering weight (2 lupine and 2 new leaf) and 10 skeins of galileo in dragonfly that just looks amazing. I’ve never used either yarn before, but I have seen a lot of projects knit up in chroma and wow are they ever beautiful. Of course owning all of this beautiful yarn is great, but I didn’t just want to have it collect dust, I wanted to knit beautiful things with it. I’m still coming up with a name for a potential Etsy shop, so far nothing has appealed to me. I’m not 100% convinced that I want to open one to begin with, but it’s something I think about. I know some of my colour work items would sell. Plain items not so much. I’ve had a lot of interest on facebook from friends which I really appreciate.

Anyway, it’s no use having all of this pretty yarn if I don’t actually make anything from it. On that note, I’ve joined a few KALs (remember, those are knit-a-longs) one of them being a mystery kal (you don’t know what you’re making before you make it). The first one I joined is from Sherwood Knits, and is a shawl. I’m honestly not sure what colour I’m going to knit it in yet, the suggested yarns are either a solid, semi-solid, or ombre yarn. I’m thinking of using some of the gifted cone yarn I got, especially since I have so much of it. I’m sure I’ll make a decision by January 1st though as that’s when the first clue is released. I’m nervous about this one, the designer didn’t write out the chart pattern, so it will be my first time attempting to read a chart. I may just end up writing it out myself, we’ll see. Ideally I want to keep growing my skills and I know that chart reading is part of that, but I’m still pretty nervous.

Aside from that, I signed up for a sock KAL in my beginner’s knit-along group, and they’ve decided to go with the knitmore girls vanilla socks for January. They’re pretty basic socks, and I’m going to finally get a chance to knit with my rainbow felici. I’m also doing cuffs, heel, and toe in black glimmer yarn. Very excited about this one. While I make those socks for one group, they qualify as an item in my final group, who is challenging people to FO (finish off) objects in fine yarn – anything DK weight and lower. There are prizes for this one, and my socks will definitely qualify as one entry. If I complete the shawl, that will be two entries. You see where this is going? It’s a fun motivational way to encourage people to use up that beautiful yarn and not to just let it lay around for years on end (of course if that’s what you want to do with your yarn, you’re more than welcome to. No judgement here)!

Have you decided on your 2016 projects yet? My ‘big’ goal for 2016 is still to knit a sweater for myself – we’ll see how that goes. I do plan on creating a smaller version of flax light, if I like it well enough it could be a potential full sized sweater for me later on in the year, maybe. Looking forward, I’m excited about all of my potential projects. Knitting is relaxing and feeling the yarn between my fingers is just a joy. I’ve been working on a baby blanket with knitpicks might stitch and smushing it every time I turn the project around because it’s just that comfortable. If I opened an Etsy shop and was able to make a few sales, maybe I could afford some of the nicer yarn. I guess we’ll just have to see!

 

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.

 

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