Monthly Archives: January 2014

Deep into it

I’ve had a couple of design projects on the go for the last few months. They are sweater projects each involving 2 samples for one design, so it’s taking me a bit longer than normal, and I like them both and can’t wait until they’re done for the world to consume, but combine project fatigue with January deep freeze and my brain is starting to long for a new project. Anything would do, really. Like, maybe a pair of mitts and a hat, just to take the edge off?

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So really I have no rational explanation for the fact that I knew all of this about myself and still cast on for a new sweater project over the Christmas holidays – and not just a quick hit, either, but an all-over cabled sweater. I don’t know, man, it seemed like a normal decision at the time. I mean seriously, anybody looking for reason and logic should take notice of knitting and then just keep on walking. I shouldn’t really be craving another large sweater project but as it turns out I’m still liking going back to this in turn, turning out a few cabled rounds of it every so often. I think it helps that it’s worsted-weight wool, which at this time of year feels pretty comfortable just to hold on the needles.

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Even though I’m no stranger to cabled projects, I don’t usually do all-over cabled sweaters and so this is a nice variation on cabled technique which is also refreshing. Variation in how a technique gets used still lets every different project stand out a bit.

Also, I don’t know about you, but any knitting time these days is still a good time – we’re still not out of the super chill zone here and watching the snow blow around from my office window just makes me cast longing glances at the knitting waiting for me in my handbag. This is the knitter’s season for sure.

I hope you’ve got some fun projects waiting for you at home, and a warm beverage or three to go with it!

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Pattern: Joist Pullover, from Twist Collective by Andrea Rangel
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers, in Liberty Heather
Project bag from Three Bags Full.

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Relatively speaking

I suppose it says something about me as a knitter that not only do I have different categories of projects in mind for different situations (transit knitting, TV knitting, will-fit-in-handbag knitting), but that those categories include one for movie-theatre knitting. And not only that but the relative ease/difficulty level that passes for those situations is actually pretty dynamic. I used to keep stockinette socks for movie theatre knitting until I realized that I needed something just a titch more interesting even for sitting in the dark, so now I knit ribbed socks in the movies.

In the fall, though, as I was heading out to the movies I realized I didn’t really have a pair of ribbed socks on the go and didn’t have time to start a pair right then, so I grabbed the easiest thing I had already on the needles which happened to be my Pi Shawl.

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It made sense at the time because for most of it, you’re just knitting plain knit stitches all the way around and around and around, broken up every 6th round with a [k2tog, yo] repeat all the way around. And eventually there are increase rounds according to Elizabeth Zimmerman’s instructions, so those take a bit of concentration too, but the stockinette sections are pretty great. So far I haven’t dropped a stitch on it, even in the dark purple Malabrigo sock. I’m finding that I don’t mind having another one of these large shawls continuously on the go for several months if it keeps in the rotation as movie knitting. This shawl has seen Thor 2, Catching Fire (twice), The Hobbit, and American Hustle, and I’ll probably take it to see Gravity this weekend. (Well, I’ll see Gravity anyway. The shawl will continue contentedly being a shawl, just in a movie theatre.) I like that knitting becomes a little social record of events in that way.

Do you have exciting knitting plans for the weekend? I hope you get some good project time in, and stay warm! Brr, the chill continues around here.

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Pattern: Pi Shawl (July shawl), directions in Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock, in ‘eggplant’

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If in doubt, add colour

This Sunday my local yarn shop Handknit Yarn Studio held the first meeting of their current Knitalong, which this time around is for stranded colour-work mittens. They held the kick-off meeting at a nearby cafe because so many people had joined up that it was too many people to fit in the store itself. I went along to help out with any colour-work knitting tips as might be helpful at the time, but also to hang out and be knitterly which is good fun on a Sunday morning any week of the year if you ask me. And everyone seemed to be having a great time, even in their great focus and concentration! Knitted mitts are serious business this time of year, man, we’ve still got a solid 2 more months worth of mitten-wearing time (if we’re lucky and don’t get more than that, anyway!)

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(Note: I sadly do not know what knitted patterns are being worn in this photo, mea culpa!)

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I didn’t cast on for a new mitten pattern at the same time, tempting though it might have been. I’m trying to finish up a couple of other projects and while the temptation to start something new is very high indeed at this time of year, I am resolved to get something – maybe even more than one something – finished in January so that February can have some fresh and enjoyable new cast-on projects while winter still lingers.

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Instead I brought along my colour-work in-the-round-swatch that has been going on for about a year and a half now. I use it when I teach stranded colour-work and have just continued it and changed up the colours every so often, so that eventually it will get long enough that I’ll join it up as a cowl. My only real scheme of things is to keep one colour/hue and one neutral  on each round, but other than that it’s all scraps from my leftovers of worsted weight yarn mingling together.

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I even sat down after I got home and added a few more rounds of colour to it, and am reminding myself that it’s for leftovers and practice and doesn’t need to be rushed – it’ll grow and get prettier at its own little pace. When in doubt, play with a bit of colour, I say.

Happy knitting this fine Monday! I hope you’re knitting on something excellent.

 

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At the top of the year

It’s the top of another new year, knitter friends, and so I decided to collect up the bits of advice that are the things I usually tell – or want to tell – to knitters, especially those who might be a bit newer to the craft and still struggling along. If you’ve taken a class with me or interacted with me in an extended fashion in any knitterly setting, you’ve probably heard me saying some of these things.

Some of these things are also, it bears mentioning, advice I have to remind myself of at times. We’re all works in progress, after all.

Happy New Year!

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First and always, keep knitting.
You will keep getting better.

Respect your mistakes.
They are trying to teach you something new, usually when you are trying very hard not to learn something new.

Knit from where you are now.
Try hard to be honest about the skills you have, and the successes you have had with them. Recognize what you don’t know how to do (yet) and let your future projects build up your skills as well as add to them. There’s lots you can do, even if there’s lots you don’t know yet.

Celebrate your accomplishments.
Knitting is filled with infinite small victories, many of them only acknowledged quietly to ourselves, and many others not at all. It feels good to feel good about making something.

Have your own goals.
Take an inventory of the things you don’t know how to do yet but would like to be able to do. The only scorecard of knitting skills you need to be observing is the one that gets you working on the projects you want. Don’t bother with cables if you don’t want to make them. Learn beaded lace knitting if it’s the only skill standing in between you and the finished project you really really wish you had. You get to decide.

Knit with colours that you love.
Our yarn choices are many and our knitting time is limited, and there is no reason to make things in colours that don’t bring you joy to knit and wear.

Recognize why you knit, and for whom.
Allow yourself to stop knitting on projects that don’t match those reasons.

Recognize when you are feeling overwhelmed.
When a project feels like too much for you to handle or that everything is too confusing, put it down and go back to it when you are ready – at some point, you will be, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. This is knitting world and there is no schedule.

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Knit for the body you have.
Take your measurements, or have a trusted friend help you take them. Body measurements have no relation to retail sizes, and in knitting world you get to knit for the you that exists in the reality of physical space, with yarn quantities being your only limitation. Knit for the size and shape you are now, and for the fit that brings you comfort. If your size or style preferences change in the future, you can also change your knitting to reflect that when you need to.

Modify patterns.
Change the length, make it a pullover instead of a cardigan, change the gauge, combine one size for the bottom with another size for the top if that’s what’s going to fit you best. Modify the shit out of that pattern if it helps you get the results you want, because you’re the only one with your body and your brain and these things will always make you smarter than whatever pattern you are working from. The pattern is the entry point, and can be made as dynamic as you want.

Occasionally, allow yourself to struggle.
Let yourself sit with a project while you figure out how to do it. Try things out and see if it works. Not everything is going to be easy, but the hard things are usually worth finishing.

Knit the garments you want.
Acknowledge the kinds of things you truly enjoy knitting. The rest of your wardrobe can still be found at the mall.

Remember that nobody is perfect.
Even if they seem like it on the internet. (Especially if they seem like it on the internet). Everyone has their own struggles – even in knitting world – and what some people make look easy, may seem impossible to others. Do your thing. You can create things with your own two hands and some skill, and this is not a small thing. You are a different knitter from the one you were when you started, and from the one you will be a few years from now.

 

Do you have any knitting-related New Year’s resolutions? I haven’t thought of any yet for myself, but I’m still pondering – other than to keep knitting more, and to find something new to try. Which I think is a good place to begin!

Happy New Year, knitter friends!

 

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