Monthly Archives: March 2011

Where are they now? 2KCBWDAY4

Today’s topic (2KCBWDAY4) for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is to talk about a past project and what’s happened to it since it was finished and proudly displayed here on my blog.

In my case, I could maybe call this post, “A Tale of Two Hats” – because that’s how many hats I’ve knitted for my oldest daughter for this past winter. And that’s also exactly how many hats she’s lost.

I should mention that my daughter is well-known in our family for misplacing or losing things in general, especially articles of clothing. At one point last year, she’d lost every single one of her coats at school, leaving me to send her one day in a sweatshirt (on a 40-degree day) because she had nothing else to wear. Thankfully all of her coats ended up making their way home eventually (we keep all of her things well-labeled).

But not so much luck with the hats.

Last fall I knitted a hat out of a purple variegated yarn that I picked up on clearance at the LYS. I love the feel of this yarn and made a really nice, simple roll-brim hat for my daughter with it – just in time for the start of the cold weather.

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In December, we headed to a neighboring city for a day, while my husband had a job interview. I took the girls to McDonalds to hang out and play while we waited for him, and at some point while we were there, somebody else walked off with this purple hat. Which wasn’t my daughter’s fault, of course – but she had left the hat (and her coat) lying on the floor, and hadn’t kept track of them while we were there either. In any case, the hat was gone – and there was no getting it back.

So, I did what any mom who knits would do – I made her a new hat. This time out of another color of the same yarn as the original hat – shades of pink instead of purple. It was the same pattern, but I changed it up a little  bit afterward by adding a pompom on top and a crocheted flower to make it a little prettier.

HatUpdates 004

This hat currently resides in the lost-and-found bin at the school where my middle daughter has cheerleading practice – at least I hope it made its way into their lost-and-found. My oldest accidentally left the hat there several weeks ago and I haven’t had the chance to check since. Thankfully it’s been a bit warmer lately so she hasn’t absolutely needed to wear a hat.

I will say one thing – the next time I knit my daughter a hat, I’m going to try a different pattern and use the experience to maybe learn something new. I don’t mind making hats, but want to do something other than a straight stockinette hat with a roll brim.

Hmm, maybe the fact that she keeps losing her hats is an opportunity rather than a problem! :)

Come back tomorrow – for a surprise!

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week -2KCBWDAY3: Tidy mind, tidy stitches

One of the knitting-related blogs that I’ve discovered lately is called Eskimimi Knits, and I love seeing all of her projects. I also found out that she’s doing this great project called Knitting and Crochet Blog Week – which is a fun way to get a lot of crafty bloggers to all blog on certain themes and get to know each other better all week. I’m so glad that I found out about it just in time to participate! Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up every day – if you’re a knitting or crocheting blogger (you don’t have to have a blog dedicated to it), why doing you join in too? 

Today’s topic (2KCBWDAY3) is about organizing your knitting – or not. I don’t know that I really consider my knitting supplies ‘organized’ per se – I have them in several different locations, out of necessity since space is at a premium around here.

I have a little corner in our master bedroom, and that’s where most of my stuff is:

KnittingStash 001

But I also have some yarn stored in the basement – mostly yarn left over from my crocheting days though, basic worsted weight and baby yarn from when I used to make a lot of afghans. I really don’t even know what’s in there – that’s the yarn I need to sort through and probably get rid of a decent amount of.

KnittingStash 003

There are also a couple of half-finished crochet projects somewhere in those drawers – not only did I stop crocheting for a while because of hand pain, but I also stopped having babies, and so did most of my friends. Someday I’d like to finish the last couple of blankets – but I’ve discovered that I enjoy knitting a lot more than crocheting, so I have no idea when.

There is one last, very special, stash of yarn that I have. It’s stored in my closet:

KnittingStash 002

This bin was brought here in its entirety, almost exactly a year ago after my aunt died. She had taken up crocheting after she retired, and was well known in the family for making afghans. Always the same ripple pattern – just the size and colors varied. I have one of them over the back of our couch right now, and my mom has several as well.

After the funeral, we all went over to my aunt’s house and my cousin asked if there was anything that I wanted. Knowing that I knit, she offered me her mom’s remaining stash of yarn, so I brought the bin home with me. Some of the yarns are ones that I will likely use and some are colors or yarns that I’m not fond of. I plan to donate the yarn that I won’t use, and at some point want to figure out something special to make with the rest of it – I just haven’t sat down and looked through to sort it all out yet. In a way, I think I’ve been putting it off on purpose, but now that it’s been a year, I really need to get that done.

I have a few things scattered in other places – my current project is in a bag on the couch, so I can grab it whenever I have a few extra minutes. And I can think of at least 2 cupboards or drawers where I’ve got needles and books. Someday, I hope to have a ‘craft’ room of my own, or at least a portion of a room. Then again, if I had more space, my yarn stash would likely grow out of control, so it’s probably for the best. :)

There’s another type of organization to consider – I do track and organize my current and past knitting projects (plus needles, yarns and patterns) on Ravelry, as well as on an iPhone app called KnitMinder. I love the app, because I always have my phone with me and I can take pictures of my work as I go right with it too. And there’s a built-in counter, which also comes in very handy too.

Come back tomorrow to hear the fates of some of my past knitting projects!

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week -2KCBWDAY2: Skill + 1UP

One of the knitting-related blogs that I’ve discovered lately is called Eskimimi Knits, and I love seeing all of her projects. I also found out that she’s doing this great project called Knitting and Crochet Blog Week – which is a fun way to get a lot of crafty bloggers to all blog on certain themes and get to know each other better all week. I’m so glad that I found out about it just in time to participate! Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up every day – if you’re a knitting or crocheting blogger (you don’t have to have a blog dedicated to it), why doing you join in too? :)

HannahInShrug_001Today’s topic (2KCBWDAY2) is about where your skill level is at compared to this time a year ago. Hmm, a year ago was when I was desperately trying to finish the second shrug in time for my sister-in-law’s wedding. My older girls were to be the flower girls, and given that early April weather in Michigan can be extremely chilly, I had decided to knit them each a shrug to wear over their sleeveless dresses.

Of course, wouldn’t you know it – but the weather was absolutely gorgeous, 70’s and sunny… The shrugs didn’t get worn then, except on the way home that night – but they have been worn a few times this winter: to church, at Christmas, and most recently when the girls went to a Father-Daughter dance last month.

I learned a lot of techniques while working on the shrugs – short rows, wrapping and turning, picking up stitches, and some things about sizing and gauge since these were my first knitted garments. Since then, I’ve mostly focused on socks and gloves almost exclusively, with a couple of hats thrown in from necessity. Here are a few techniques I’ve picked up:

  • Sock-making in general – the basic construction of socks, and how to do a standard cuff-down socks with heel flap. And how to turn the heel – something that intimidated me for a long time but is really quite easy once you try it. :)

KidSocksDone 002

  • Magic Loop – which I love! No more dpns for me.  I’ve also successfully converted a pattern meant for dpns to magic loop – the fingerless/convertible gloves I finished recently (see photo below).

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  • Kitchener stitch/grafting. Not to mention glove construction, and converting a pattern to magic loop.

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  • Crocheted flowers – I consider this a new technique since I hadn’t done flowers before, nor had I crocheted in several years at all.

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  • Provisional cast-on – I’m still not totally sure that I ‘get it’, but I’ve done it successfully once, so that’s got to count for something.

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That really is kind of a short list – but I’m still proud of what I’ve accomplished over the past year. I’m a lot more comfortable with my needles and yarn in general, and I think I’m a bit faster too. There’s so much more that I want to learn – I’ll talk about that more later on this week. :)

Come back tomorrow to hear how organized my knitting life is (or isn’t)!

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week -2KCBWDAY1: A Tale of Two Yarns

One of the knitting-related blogs that I’ve discovered lately is called Eskimimi Knits, and I love seeing all of her projects. Yesterday I also found out that she’s doing this great project called Knitting and Crochet Blog Week – which is a fun way to get a lot of crafty bloggers to all blog on certain themes and get to know each other better all week. I’m so glad that I found out about it just in time to participate! Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up every day – if you’re a knitting or crocheting blogger (you don’t have to have a blog dedicated to it), why doing you join in too? :)

Today’s topic (2KCBWDAY1) is all about yarn – definitely one of the most important things to consider when you’re knitting or crocheting. And one of the most fun too – like most fiber enthusiasts, I have a yarn stash, because it’s really hard to pass up something perfectly soft or a gorgeous color. I keep my stash pretty low in general, due mostly to financial and space constraints – but I do have one. One of these days I need to go through it and weed out the yarn that I know I’ll never, ever use – but for now I keep it all. Just in case, of course.

I haven’t worked with too very many different types of yarns yet, again since my budget is pretty limited. I also stick to those that are machine washable – a must-have with kids, of course. Lately I’ve been all over sock yarns, since I’ve been focusing on sock and glove projects just about exclusively, so I’ll talk about a couple of those here.

MiniMochiYarn 001The first yarn to discuss is the Mini Mochi that I used to make my fingerless gloves/convertible mittens earlier this year. There are definitely some things that I absolutely love about this yarn – especially the colors. I used a pastel range (called ‘baby face’), but I’ve seen the other colors that Mochi yarns come in and I love pretty much all of them! It’s also very soft and slightly fuzzy – and is machine washable (although can’t go in a dryer). It’s 80% merino wool and 20% nylon and is a single-ply yarn. I liked the single-ply a lot – it didn’t split the way that some of the multi-ply yarns I’ve used do and it knit very smoothly on my Addi Turbo needles.

KnittedGloves 004Working with it was a dream – but I would never use this yarn again for a pair of something, like socks and gloves. Unless I didn’t care if the colors matched exactly – because it’s dyed before it’s spun, the colors definitely don’t go in a predictable pattern. I lucked out with my two balls and my gloves match fairly well. But I can definitely tell the difference between the two, especially since they were different dye lots as well, and one ball was much more subdued color-wise than the other. If I’d know what I would be making with it when I originally bought it, I would have bought two balls, not just one. For something like a hat or a scarf, this would be perfect – but I won’t use it again for socks or gloves. I have a book of patterns of various projects for sock yarn (other than socks), so I think I’ll definitely use Mini Mochi for at least some of them.

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My second yarn is Patons Stretch Socks – (the first sock yarn that I ever bought), in the ‘olive’ shade. I bought this yarn originally because I liked the idea of socks that stretch, thinking that it would make sizing easier – and also because I loved the colors that it comes in. It took me a year to finish my first sock – and I think that was in part because I found this yarn really difficult to work with. The socks that I’ve made since with other yarns have been a lot easier.

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The biggest problem that I had with the stretchy sock yarn was that it tends to curl and loop and tangle – I had to keep un-twirling the yarn between the needles and the skein and I felt like it was really twisted as it knit too. It’s not as soft as I’d hoped either – but the socks that I made definitely do stretch, which is nice when wearing them. It’s 41% cotton, 30% wool, 13% nylon and 7% elastic and although it says hand wash only, I have washed my socks in the machine just fine. I do hand dry them though. I had horrible problems with laddering while knitting them – in part because it was my first try at using dpns, but I’ve also talked to someone else who said that she thinks the stretchy yarn makes that problem worse in general too. I’m kind of curious to see if I’d have any better result by using magic loop – I have another couple of balls of this yarn (in ‘plum’ this time), so I’ll probably try and find out at some point. I love the colors so much – if I had a way to fix the twisting problem, I’d be a lot more inclined to use this yarn more often.

5536269401_f5048f9bdbThere’s a lot more yarn in my stash, of course – but these are a couple of the ones I’ve used recently. Right now I’m using a yarn called Ty-Dy Socks from Knit One Crochet Two. I like it a lot – but it’s a multi-ply yarn, and splits terribly. Or at least I have difficulty with making sure I’ve got my needle through the entire stitch anyway. Other than that it’s been really nice to work with and I love how the striping comes out. This color is called ‘Cherry Cola’ and my daughter absolutely loves it – good thing the socks I’m knitting are going to be for her! :)

Come back tomorrow to hear where I think I’m at skill-wise compared to a year ago!

Forethought heel

This type of sock heel is pretty much the most convoluted thing I’ve tried to knit so far.

Especially since you’re working with yarn from the other end of the skein, while leaving the original yarn attached as well… It’s becoming somewhat of a tangled mess.

Then there’s trying to work around the instep stitches, currently on a holder – while knitting both sides of the heel stitches. I feel like I’m playing a game of Twister, especially when I’m working on the side that’s attached to the sock already. Once I knit far enough out away from the held stitches, it should get easier. I hope.

I remain intrigued enough by this whole concept to keep going  – although I did thread a lifeline through my stitches before beginning the heel, so I can frog back to that point if I so choose. Without having to take the entire sock apart again.

Because if I have to start this sock completely over for a third time, I think I might just scream.

Or at the very least, find a different project to work on. And try to explain the delay to a somewhat impatient 8-year-old.

Although at this rate, by the time I finish both socks it’ll be warm enough outside that she won’t need to wear them – until fall.

At which point she’ll likely have outgrown them.

It’s a good thing that I knit for the enjoyment of it – not because my girls are desperate for socks!

Will keep updating as I go…

ForethoughtHeel

To ‘frog’ or not to ‘frog’…

That was the question that faced me a few days ago.  See this partially knitted sock? The one I’ve been working on (rather slowly) for the past few weeks?

HannahsSock-PreFrogging 002

Yeah, so this particular sock no longer exists.

I’d gotten pretty far along – I finished the leg portion, knit the heel flap, turned the heel, and was finishing up the gusset decreases into the foot area when I got the bright idea of actually trying the sock on my 8-year-0ld daughter’s foot to make certain that it was going to fit her.

Can you guess where this is going yet?

Yep, not only did the sock not fit, but there was absolutely no way that any amount of stretching or force was going to get it over her heel. I thought briefly about finishing it anyway and giving it to my youngest – it did fit onto her foot. And my 8-year-old was rather understanding – she just asked that when I started her socks (again), that I use the same yarn and pattern.

And that’s actually what decided me. Making two identical socks from the same yarn and pattern is hard enough – but necessary in order for the project to be usable. But to make an extra two identical (although larger) socks beyond that is more than I think I could bear right now. I get tired of doing the same thing over and over again and this is a slow-moving pattern anyway. So rather than taking the time and energy to finish another sock-and-a-half and then knit a whole new pair for my 8-year-old, I decided to re-use the yarn I’ve already got, and I tore that entire sock apart.

Rip-it, rip-it, ribbit, ribbit… See where ‘frogging’ comes from?  ;)

Which of course, then left me frustrated to start back from scratch when I’d had an almost wearable sock in my hands just minutes previously – so I immediately began the new sock. With the same pattern and (very curly) yarn – but at the next pattern size up. I’m not sure what about the ankle/heel area on the first sock was off specifically – but I was winging the pattern a bit, since the actual pattern calls for something termed a ‘forethought’ heel that sounded very intimidating, since it involves a bunch of stitches done in a provisional cast-on, something I’ve never done before. So I had gone rogue and decided to stick with the same heel I already know how to do. I’d estimated the number of rows for the heel flap and figured out turning the heel with the help of my friends Google and YouTube… And it had appeared to work – sort of, at least until I tried the sock on an actual foot. So this time I think I may actually try the heel as written. I’ve read and watched a lot about provisional cast-ons over the past few days, so I think it’s worth a shot.

Especially since I love a challenge – and it’s definitely better than knitting the exact same sock four times over!

Here’s the current sock at the moment – I’m still in the curly, previously knitted yarn…

HannahsSock-2ndAttempt 001

Let’s just hope I can finish this and start blogging about a new project at some point before 2011 ends!

Knitting and travel

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When I travel, I always take my current knitting project with me – whether on a road trip or an airline flight. Even if I know that I won’t have time when I get where I’m going to knit, I know that I’ll pull the needles and yarn out at some point along the way there or back.

The first time that I flew with knitting needles in my carry-on, I stressed over whether or not they would make it through security. But at this point I can say that I’ve flown with various types of needles – dpns to circulars to straights – with no challenges or concerns on the part of the TSA agents. I’ve always had a project in progress on the needles though, so whether or not empty needles would cause an issue, I don’t know. And I always make sure to leave even my tiny craft scissors at home, because I know those wouldn’t make it through and I like them too much to have them confiscated. Obviously that doesn’t apply to road trips, thankfully. :)

I can’t say that I necessarily get a whole lot done knitting-wise when I’m traveling. But I love having something else to do on a plane, especially for take-off and landing, when electronic devices can’t be used, or even in the middle of a flight when I can’t stand to stare at another written word on a page. And it’s a very relaxing activity during layovers – not to mention a great conversation-starter!

HannahsSocks 001When I traveled to Florida a couple of weeks ago, I took my current project – the first sock for my 8-year-old. This particular project has been rather slow-moving – in part because it’s a more complicated pattern than I’ve done for socks before. I think I need to start a very simple project of some sort with just basic knit/purl stitches (something stockinette probably) for me to keep on the needles to travel with – I found that I’m much more likely to pull a project out while traveling when it’s something I don’t need to think a whole lot about while I’m working on it.

Here are a few tips for knitting while traveling:

  • Small projects (socks, hats, mittens, etc.) are easy to carry with you and fit better in suitcases or travel totes. Also try to use a project that’s done in one color or a variegated/striped yarn so that you don’t have to carry multiple skeins with you. Projects that use sport, sock or baby yarn pack smaller than ones that use bulkier yarns.
  • Leave the scissors at home (or put them in a checked bag). Even nail clippers can be confiscated at security checkpoints. There’s a good post at Purple Kitty about crafting supplies and TSA regulations that has some tips – apparently blunt scissors (like kids’ safety scissors) are ok to travel with, so I’ll probably try that next time. Bringing a project that’s nowhere near completion can be a good way to avoid needing to cut your yarn while you’re traveling in most cases too.
  • Having a self-addressed, stamped envelope with you can be helpful just in case your knitting supplies are confiscated – at least you can make sure they’ll be returned to you.
  • Having a project with an easy pattern or one that’s easily remembered can be helpful. If your pattern is in a large book, try photocopying it so you don’t have to take the whole book with you on the trip. Keep a pencil with you so you can make notes, keep track of stitches or jot down where you’re at in the pattern, right on the photocopy. That way if your flight is called faster than you’d expected, you won’t lose track of where you left off.
  • Pack your knitting in a plastic bag or smaller tote so that you can keep everything together in your carry-on and just pull out that bag when you want to knit. This is extra helpful while on a plane, so you can leave your larger carry-on under the seat in front of you (or in the overhead compartment) and still have all of your knitting supplies handy.
  • Relax and enjoy your trip!

Do you take your knitting with you when you travel? What are your best travel tips for knitting on-the-go?

I write about other travel-related topics as West Michigan TravelingMom – come and join in the discussion!