Your Knitting Time – KCBWDAY7

Day seven: 3rd April. Your knitting and crochet time.
Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.

Since I learned how to knit, I feel restless if I don’t have my knitting handy.  I generally have at least one, sometimes two (!) projects handy at a time, and not having something to work on, whether or not I actually have the time, drives me up the wall.

I knit at home, watching movies or TV. I’ll knit (or spin) while I wait for dinner to cook. I’ll knit while waiting for doctors, dentists, busses and trains. I knit in line for the movies (I got a good chunk of a sock knit in line for Avatar) I knit my way to Saskatchewan twice, allowing yarn to take over a good portion of the back seats of both a Saturn and a Honda Fit.

I get the most non-household knitting done during lunch hours at work. It’s my way of generally tuning out the world so that I can come back feeling refreshed.  Sometimes, when I can’t knit over lunch, I start feeling edgy.  This usually happens when I miss several days in a row. It’s not uncommon for co-workers and folks from other departments to recognize me by the fact that I’m the person they see knitting in the break area. Generally they ask what I’m working on, and sometimes I get asked questions about the hows and whys of knitting.

Generally, though, it’s fair to say that I’ll pretty much just knit anywhere that I have the space and enough time to drag out the wool.  I generally have a kit ready to grab & go, often containing a sock, any patterns & notes, and a wee kit with stitch markers, a cable hook, needles and such. I usually have a nail-clipper somewhere handy, so I never worry about bringing scissors.

Sometimes, I just bring wine 😉

Something to aspire to – 2KCBWDAY6

Day six: 2nd April. Something to aspire to. Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make bu can admire the result of those that have.

I have knit socks, and soldiered on through scarves that never end (like the Dr. Who Scarf), and even tried my hand a colourwork mittens. There’s the odd hat or beret scattered through my collection, and lately, small shawl/shawlettes.  There’s one thing, though, that scares me:

Sweaters.  Actually, not all sweaters scare me, otherwise I would never have cast on for the February Lady Sweater or considered casting on a sweater for the Husbeast.  No…I’m somewhat scared of colourwork sweaters. I’m also somewhat standoffish about cabled sweaters.

Thing is, I find cables and fair isle fussy at the best of times. My Grandmother used those elements to challenge herself, as plain sweaters were a “been there, done that” sort of thing for her.  Mum seems to like colourwork as well.  Apparently she’s knit Dad a couple of “ski sweaters”, and seems to find them fun.  I wish I could find pictures of some of these sweaters, but they’re somewhat hard to come by in my picture collection.

For all I know, I could get the right size needles and yarn, and be off & running.  I just find cables time-consuming, and colourwork…well…it’s a lot to juggle.

For now, I think I’ll stick with smaller items.  Maybe I’ll work my way up to the sweater.

Where are they now? – 2KCBWDAY4

Day Four: 31st March. Where are they now?

Whatever happened to your __________?

Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

I don’t know if anyone actually remembers these…but these socks took up a huge chunk of time that I’ll never get back.

Actually, it wasn’t all that bad.  It was mainly just a matter of knuckling down and getting them knit. My one regret is that I don’t think I actually took a decent picture of the Black Hole Socks before I sent them off to their new home.

They became my Mum’s socks on Christmas Day, 2010. Mum seems to enjoy it when I show off a new technique of some sort. First it was just learning how to knit socks…then it was socks from the toe up.  Now it’s socks with beads. There are a whole bunch of other techniques I’ve learned in the meantime, but it’s always the “big” ones (the more noticeable ones) that get the most attention.

I get little status updates every so often regarding these socks. Apparently Mum’s co-workers had an odd reaction to her  black socks with white beads…they thought she’d somehow gotten “studs” onto the yarn.

I’ll bear that in mind the next time I see a Bedazzler on sale for cheap.

Needless to say, Mum still maintains to her friends that she’s wearing beaded socks, and her friends still maintain that she has a closet Harley Davidson fetish.

That’s OK. Someday I’ll snag a picture of the Mukluks my Mum made for me.  They’re beaded moccasin boots, for those who are not in the know. Yes, they’re made of real hide and fur…and some of the most incredible beadwork you’ve ever seen.

You see, my Mum doesn’t do things halfway.  When she learns a craft, she learns it “authentic”.  She also believes one goes big or goes home.  She very quickly became sick of green beads.  Why?

Her northerly-transplanted Ontarian daughter asked for Trilliums on the boots.  Trilliums have a lot of green in the leaves.  Just sayin’.

So beaded socks for my Mum?  She kinda deserves that kind of special.  And now that she’s getting older and less likely to do intricate beadwork?

I may swipe her leftover beads… 😉

Tidy mind, tidy stitches – 2KCBWDAY3

Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.
How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

Tips: Many people use their blogs partly as an organisational tool – logging and cataloguing projects and newly attained skills, projects and modifications. Did you bare this in mind when you began blogging?

There ought to be a sign on my house that says “Yarn lives here”, or “Beware the String”.

I actually meant well.  I have a craft room, but it’s full of storage at the moment.  Eventually it will be a craft room in the true sense.  So that I’d have some room to move things around, I put my “stored yarn” into the basement understair storage.

Of course, that doesn’t include any incidental yarn that might have somehow managed to go on display… (here in a display bowl in the kitchen)

Or my computer desk (which, sadly is very messy and has gone through a half-cleanup in anticipation of moving things to the craft room.  Notice the swift and ball winder?  Essentials!)

And then there’s the yarn-in-progress.

Personally, for me, I’d say that’s pretty organized.


Skill +1UP – 2KCBWDAY2

I’m a little late in getting this up and running. I actually missed Day 1, which will be rectified.

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP
Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

Last year I re-taught myself to knit. Usually, when one thinks of re-learning one’s knitting style, you’d assume that you were learning, say, continental (picking) method vs. “english” (throwing). I swapped one throwing method for another.

I had seen a video online that featured Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s knitting style — at least for small projects. She just whipped through the rounds on a sock, and I thought to myself… “I’d love to knit that quickly!” I was knitting with the needles under my fingers, which I’ve seen is fairly common these days. It seemed like a very slow method, but slow & steady eventually won the race, right?

I found a Ravelry group for folks who had taken the Yarn Harlot’s mini-seminar on how to knit cottage-style, and that allowed me to find even more videos. There are two different knitting “stances” — one for knitting in the round, one for knitting on straights.

The hardest part to learn was how to hold the yarn. The advice that was given was to just try knitting with the new method for at least 5 minutes per day, gradually increasing your time. I found that once I figured out how to tension the yarn, it didn’t take long until I was knitting at almost the same speed I would have normally knit.

It’s been at least six months, maybe almost a year now, and I actually knit rather quickly. The video that I’ve linked to this blog entry was taken a couple of months ago by one of my co-workers at lunchtime. A friend had wanted an example of how I knit, and my (new, at the time!) cell phone was a great little video camera. I actually knit a lot faster than this…but for the sake of demonstration, I had slowed down considerably.

I don’t regret re-learning how to knit. It was a short-term pain in the arse for a good increase in speed. I also find that I can knit a lot longer without pain. Ergonomics, in my book, are always a plus!

A Tale of Two Yarns – 2KCBWDAY1

Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

Tips: It is a good idea, if possible, to choose a yarn that you adore and a yarn that just didn’t work for you. You do not need to be critical of any yarn if you do not feel comfortable in doing so, but perhaps you came to realise that one yarn wasn’t suitable for a particular project, if possible you could blog about what you have come to learn about choosing the right yarn, or your love of experimenting with fibres.

Sometimes you need to make a change.  I mentioned at the beginning of the month that I had started my Shur’tugal socks out of wondrous Malabrigo.  Let me say right now that if a sock yarn could be likened to really good sex, Malabrigo would be the brand name. I love the way it flows over the needles, and the feel in my hands. There’s just something very satisfying about the softness and the pliability.

The unfortunate thing with the Malabrigo is that it is so beautiful that you don’t want to waste it.  After finding I was having some issues with gauge, I decided to rip back the sock and start over with a yarn that I wouldn’t mind losing to someone else for Yule if they just wouldn’t fit. Yes, there was a part of me that gave a very heavy sigh on that day, because I’d completed the heel turn by that point and was well on the way to starting gusset decreases.

But starting over didn’t take much, and I can’t think of many other yarns I’d rather use than Shibui sock yarn. It’s a firm, yet soft two-ply that plumps up quite nicely on slightly larger needles.  I finally settled on knitting the cuff and leg on size 2 Addi Turbo (3mm) needles, and switching back to my usual size 1 Addis (2.5mm) needles for everything from the heel flap onwards.  Sock #1 is now off the needles and looking (and feeling!) awesome. I think I’ll even get to keep them!

We won’t get into the additional cat hair that is requisite in every knitting project. I keep trying to convince myself that kitty is simply ensuring that my yarn is properly inspected and approved.

Coming Soon: Knit and Crochet Week!

My Google Reader category for “Knitterly” contains feeds for 89 knitting blogs.  It’s gotten to the point where I have at least 20 or more posts to read on a daily basis.  I’m a great lurker.  I’m not the best at commenting, though I *am* working on that. I constantly add new blogs to the category.  Reader is great in making sure that everything is available on my laptop as well as my phone, just in case I have some time to kill.

I’m not just going to sit here waxing poetic about Google Reader, though.  That’s not the point of this post.

I’m amazed when I read articles online about how blogging is dying off and folks are turning to writing shorter snippets in Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr formats.  I find it hard to believe, because there are lots and lots of great knitting blogs out there…and it seems that there are more every day.  I rather wish that Twitter had been around earlier; many of my earliest posts were one or two-sentence random thoughts that would have made great tweets.  I consider blogs as complete thoughts with paragraphs and the ability to start a commented conversation. Tweets?  Sometimes I think their impact is as significant as the proverbial fart in the proverbial windstorm.  Twitter is fun, however, and it has its place.

The 89th blog in my Google Reader is Eskimimi Knits.  I’m enjoying the design of her site, and I think I’m going to enjoy reading the content. Apparently she is the person responsible for a blog meme called “Knitting and Crochet Blog Week“, which is in its second year.  For a week, participants all blog about the same topics.  It’s like the WordPress Daily Post, for folks who like yarn (but not for a full year).

I’m thinking that I’ll have to participate.  They have the topics already posted so that you can plan ahead for any photos, reference material, etc.  This is a good thing, as I’ve noticed that things tend to go missing from my calendar.

Anyone else thinking of joining in? 🙂