Monday, January 30, 2012

Bits and Pieces (Randomness Disclaimer)

Working on finishing up a sweater, the yarn for which was a complete impulse purchase. In my defense, itʼs Noro, my first yarn love, and it was 20% off. Gorgeous colors! And, itʼs silk garden - so soft. 

I just need to finish the last sleeve, pick up stitches at the neck, block, and sew. I love that its short sleeve so I can wear it right now. My classroom is very, very warm all year. If my boss is reading this, donʼt mistake that comment for a complaint. Iʼd rather be hot than cold. Anyway, now that I can sew seams, Iʼm rather excited to finish this up. 

Next in line for the needles are a pair of cabled mittens for my mom, a coca leaf bag for a friend who does not chew coca leaves but needs a pouch for an iphone and earbuds, and a pair of socks for my Aunt Karel. Projects are not necessarily listed in order of priority, sorry girls. Excited to make the socks the most. I recently lost my grandma and this is her sock yarn that Iʼm using to make a pair of socks for her daughter, my aunt. 

Coca leaf wristlet for my non-leaf-chewing friend

Didnʼt get much knitting or blogging done this weekend, although I did manage to Pinterest. It was Winterfest here, so we were busy having dinner with friends, watching cardboard sled races, and hanging out with friends. I was going to say partying with friends, but does one still say partying with friends after age 40? And, is it considered partying if said 40-something is home by 7:00 pm? Let me know what you think. This is an awkward age - too old for Old Navy but too young for Talbots! 

Believe it or not, these sleds are nothing but cardboard and duct tape (and maybe a little wax for speed).

On Friday, I stopped by a local antique mall. I was on the hunt for vintage buttons and earrings I can repurpose. I have no idea how to do this, of course, but am feeling very craft-confident after figuring out seaming and knitting a hat that fit perfectly on the first try. Not much in the way of those notions, but I found some knitting books from the 1960s for about 2 bucks each! 

I want to knit some of the mittens, and some of the sweaters are back in style - who knew? 

Well, I better do a little less virtual yapping and a lot more needle clicking if Iʼm to make any progress tonight. Thanks for reading my random prattle ;)  Christina

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why Put off Until Tomorrow What You Can Tackle 3 Months From Now?

First, a glossary of knitting terms:

Frogged, ing - realizing a project isn’t going to work out and/or you’re in way over your head then completely ripping it out to use the yarn for something else
Hibernating, ed, ion - a project that is mostly finished but there is something hard left to do that you don’t feel like dealing with, so you avoid it

Now onto my post. 

I started knitting a jacket with... ahem... $96 worth of Noro Chirimen yarn, please don’t judge me until you’ve knit with this yarn. Noro is a Japanese yarn famous for its unusual color combinations. In layman’s terms it’s very cool. Anyway, I couldn’t get row gauge and the jacket had this curved front - for which you really need to get row gauge - so I frogged it. (See glossary above.) Sigh! Shortly after frogging, I found a pattern for a vest that would work with my yarn and off I went. Relieved, I mentioned the cost of the yarn right(?), I cast on and knit the front and back of the vest in no time at all. Before long, however, I realized I really don’t know how to seam. And, this was a pattern that had to be sewn together. Another sigh! So, the vest sat in my craft room, which used to be my oldest daughter’s bedroom but she’s been away at college for four years so I figured it was fair game, in hibernation (again, see glossary above) for three months.

Here’s a picture of my un-seamed vest hibernating.

Not sure what got into me, but yesterday I decided I was ready to tackle this seaming situation. I consulted a few knitting books, Youtubed and Pinterested, yep those last two are verbs now, and started sewing. Leave it to me to try and learn a new skill like sewing a seam with yarn that is nubby and with a pattern that increases at the sides. Anyway, within four hours or so, I completely got the hang of it, and, discovered it’s almost soothing.

Here’s a picture of my beautiful seam. See the colors and how the stripes don’t line up. Classic Noro.

I started this vest October 20something, 2011 and finished it today, roughly three months later. I guess if there is a moral to this post, and I’m not sure there is or should be, it’s that I think it’s ok to let a problem hibernate until you are ready to deal with it properly. 

Can’t wait to wear my vest to work tomorrow, although in hindsight it may have been faster to do a load of laundry ;) Thanks for reading! ~Christina

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why I Love Michigan and The Pattern That Started It All

First a few words about The Mitten on this beautiful sunny Sunday. For non-natives that’s the official nickname for Michigan, although some shape-impaired Wisconsinites are trying to cash in on our gig. Hold up your left hand - palm facing away from you. See? Michigan. You can even position your right hand - thumb down, pinky up, palm facing away - above your left if you want to get fancy and include the UP. 



Being a troll (I live south of The Bridge), I usually just stick with the LP. Still can’t work out the Wisconsin thing, but anyway, moving on. Many Michigan residents joke that in this great state you can wear your bathing suit and snow pants in the same day. Ok, this might be a slight exaggeration, but I submit two pictures in defense of our musings about weather.

The beach at Grand Haven Monday through Thursday afternoon.

My backyard in Grand Haven on Friday.
I can’t really think of a clever segue linking Michigan weather and dishcloths, so please excuse this abrupt shift to knitting. 
A comment by a new follower, Diane, inspired me to post the pattern for the beloved dishcloth: Grandma’s Favorite. 

Grandma's Favorite with Scrubbie Corner
Despite extensive research, I am unable to find the creator of this pattern (many claim to be the author), so I can’t give credit. Sorry. Anyway, dishcloths are a great way to learn to knit or re-acquaint yourself with the art. The yarn is inexpensive, the project is quick, gauge isn’t important, and you have something useful when you’re finished. Most importantly, it’s a dishcloth so a mistake here or there doesn’t really matter. Grandma’s Favorite is the pattern that started it all for me about 11 years ago when my mother-in-law offered to teach me to knit. I had crocheted nearly all my life (someday I’ll write a post about my 23 year long crocheted afghan, ugh!) and was eager to try my hand, or hands as the case may be, at knitting. I finished the first dishcloth and was hooked! No pun intended. My girls were still young and money was tight, so dishcloths were the perfect project for me: quick and cheap. Aside from the occasional fling with a scarf, which is really just a long, rectangle dishcloth if you think about it, I stuck with dishcloths. I taught myself how to read patterns, knit cables, and many other skills via dishcloths. I dubbed myself the dishcloth queen. I passed them out at every family get together and they made the perfect hostess gift. Although, if a hostess says something along the lines of your dishcloth being unique or a nice doily, bring a bottle of wine next time. 

So, enjoy this pattern as a way to learn to knit or rekindle your love of knitting.

1skein cotton yarn (Sugar‘n Cream works great)
Size 8 needles
Using a knitted cast-on, CO 4 stitches.
Knit 2, yarn over (YO), knit to the end of the row.
Repeat this row until your project has about 45 or so stitches.
Then decrease as follows:
Knit 1, knit two together (K2TOG), YO, K2TOG, knit to the end of the row.
Repeat this row until you have 4 stitches left.

Now if you want to really impress friends and family, you can add netting, also known as scrubbie material. Purchase netting at a fabric store. Cut it into roughly 1” strips, or have your mom do that part for you - thanks mom, and knit double-stranded with it and the yarn for the first 20 rows or so. 

This adds a scrubbie corner great for cleaning up sticky stuff - not kids though, ouch!

Knit on! ~ Christina

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Socks on the Beach

Sorry, that’s not a typo - I was not referring to the cocktail. I’m working on a pair of socks and enjoying the beauty of Lake Michigan. It’s been a beautiful weekend for both being outside and knitting. With temperatures in the 40s and the sun shinning, I just had to get out and go for a walk yesterday. This is unusually warm weather for West Michigan. There were many kite surfers out too; clearly they couldn’t resist the pull of the big lake either. Glad I armed myself with my iphone so I could get some pictures. 

I feel very fortunate to live so close to all of this natural beauty!

The Grand Haven channel and pier.
Now on to the socks. Yes, these are the same socks that knocked me off my knitting pedestal and reminded me of the value of humility. I’m knitting a free pattern from Ravelry titled, “A Nice Ribbed Sock,” by Glenna C. After checking my gauge, ahem, I went down a needle size. I’m also converting the pattern to knit on 2 circulars rather than double-points. Trying to keep stitches on all of those needles drives me nuts. There are fewer ladders with 2 circulars, and the ribbing in this pattern hides them nicely. The first sock is finished, and I’m close to knitting the heel flap on the second. It’s been a while since I’ve knitted socks: I forgot how loooong they can take with such small needles. Thank goodness for my addi’s. 

  I’m throughly enjoying this yarn. It’s Sausalito by Crystal Palace, very soft.

 On the first sock, the solid stripes on the leg change to variegated stripes on the foot. I love the effect. 

Not sure the pictures do the color justice. Anyway, I better quit procrastinating on the Internet and get those needles clicking! Thanks for reading :)