Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 7 – Looking forward

This is my final post for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week (4KCBWDAY7). I’ve enjoyed this year – thanks Eskimimi for organising it. Here’s the brief:

One year from now, when the 5th Knitting & Crochet Blog Week rolls around, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?

This could be anything from mastering a technique (broomstick lace, entrelac, etc), trying a new yarn or skill, or a long term wish to crochet only from your stash, or knit every stitch in one of the Harmony Guides. Maybe you have no desire or plans for your craft at all, no new element of knitting or crochet that you dream of mastering, in which case write about why that might be. In a year’s time participants will be asked to look back to see if they achieved any goals, no matter how general, and see which house conquered the art of looking forward.

Last year during Blog Week I set myself the following challenges:

On the colour day, I said I should make and wear a pair of pink socks. Well, I haven’t worn them yet because I only cast off about 10 minutes ago and the lace needs blocking, but here they are:

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On the final day, Improving your Skill-set, I suggested

  • Another sweater or cardigan for me, possibly from the book Knit, Swirl.
  • Design a pair of socks and learn how to write patterns
  • Brioche stitch, just because I’ve still not figured out what it is
  • I’d love to have a go at knitting a pair of socks one inside the other and that would involve learning double knitting.

I’ve cast-on for the Knit, Swirl cardigan but it is going slowly because I keep breaking the cables by pulling on the stitches to move them round. I just need to get a couple of replacement cables and I’ll be able to carry on.

I did design a very simple pair of socks for my husband, but the subtleties of pattern-writing are beyond me for now. I just didn’t really get the hang of writing down all the decisions I made, like which particular cast-on or bind-off to use at any point.

Brioche stitch and double-knitting are still on the non-urgent to do list.

This year, I’d like to add a few new aims. By the end of KCBW5 I would like:

  • to have knitted something wearable from yarn I have spun myself.
  • to possess less yarn than I do now, either by weight or number of skeins (I’ll do a count next week to see how much I have at the moment)
  • to have progressed further with the mascot project, which I have now decided to make from the small ball of purple yarn and design my own heart-shaped shawl using Laylock’s shawl-design sheet, but make it more complicated by adding patterns to it.
  • to spend some work time looking at spirituality and knitting, organise my research so far and investigate the possibility of publishing an article of some sort.

Thanks for reading. The blog will now return to the usual schedule of posts when I get the time between work and kids.

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 6 – A tool to covet

We’re getting towards the end of the week now. Today is all about gadgets – search for 4KCBWDAY6 for what other people have to say. (Today is also my birthday, so if my family are nice to me, there may be something more to report by the end of the day – do take a virtual piece of cake while you read.)

Write about your favourite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special lamp, or stitch markers.

Is it an item that you would recommend to others, and if so for which applications/tasks do you think it is most suited. Conversely, do you have a tool/accessory that you regret buying? Why does it not work for you?

Over the last few years, I have collected many different tools for knitting, all of which I would recommend.

  • blocking wires
  • blocking mats – actually just interlocking foam play mats from the Early Learning Centre
  • sock blockers
  • lovely sock needles – dpns and circulars
  • locking stitch markers
  • a set of knit pro (knit-picks for the Americans) interchangeable needles
  • a magnetic chart holder

Without question, the tools that make the biggest difference to my craft are my ball-winder and swift. I’ve had the ball-winder for some years, (although it appears I have never taken a photo of it and the light is too bad to take one now – go here and scroll all the way to the bottom of the page), bought the first time I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show from the Texere Yarns stand.

Before the ball-winder arrived, I had wound a couple of skeins into balls, but found it tricky, particularly the need to compel someone to remain on the sofa, holding a skein of yarn over their outstretched hands. After the ball-winder it was undoubtedly easier to wind skeins with the assistance of someone to hold the skein tight, but it could be done with some judiciously placed chairs instead if necessary. Still, nearly every skein ended up in a big knot at some point in the process. Even knowing that the knot must be a slip knot and therefore unravellable, doesn’t make it any less tedious.

Eventually, I bought a swift, a beautiful wooden one that collapses into a fairly small box. It is the Amish-design Wooden Yarn Swift from Chiaogoo.

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It is still fairly new, so doesn’t run as smoothly or easily as I would like, but it makes it very easy to wind yarn, with no other human required to hold it. I spend whole evenings with the swift and ball winder out, winding yarn in front of the tv. It works perfectly for thicker yarns, but for thinner yarns (sock and lace) I often have to tension it by hand to avoid it being wound too tight.

My son is now at the age where he thinks a ball winder is a wonderful toy and he can often be persuaded to turn the handle of the ball winder for me, with some encouragement and a reminder to stay at the same speed and winding in the same direction. You get some horrible snarls if you start going the other way and a loop of yarn catches in the cogs underneath.

Any knitting tools I regret buying? Just the very short (10 cm) sock needles I bought last autumn. I hold my needles in the gap between my thumbs and forefingers. The short needles just poke holes in the skin.

On the whole, I love knitting tools and I’m sure I will acquire more of them in the future. When it comes right down to it though, they are peripheral to the action of just sitting and knitting with good yarn and needles that feel right.

P.S. I took one of the pink socks to a work meeting on Thursday evening and was sitting there quite happily knitting my way up the lace chart when the cable of my circular needle caught on a button on my coat. I didn’t notice, reached out for something and then discovered I had neatly removed the needle from the stitches, depositing stitch markers in the darkness under the seat.

It all ended happily at home later that evening (I was able to grovel on the floor and find all the stitch markers) and I fixed the lace with only one round of tinking. Maybe I need to take simpler knitting to meetings.

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 5 – Something Different

We’ve reached Day 5, and time for something different.

It’s the annual challenge to blog in a way different to how you normally blog. You may choose to create a podcast, or vlog, create a wordless post or write in verse. You’ve already stretched your wings with an infographic, now it’s time to freestyle. You can post on any topic you like, but be sure to post in a style different from your usual blog presentation. There’s not too much guidance for this one simply because the more varied the posts are on this day, the wider the sources of information for other bloggers will be. Bonus points if you manage to work your house animal in somehow.

I was struggling for inspiration for this day this year (however you could always go and see my post from last year) and then I saw this youtube clip. It’s not new, but it is jaw-dropping and has a sheepy theme. I don’t think I post youtube clips very often, so I hope this is enough to fulfil the brief and will entertain if nothing else.

 

 

To find other posts for Day 5, search for 4KCBWDAY5.

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 4 – Colour Review

So, today in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is all about colour (search 4KCBWDAY4 to find more colourful posts).

What are your favourite colours for knitted or crocheted projects. Have a think about what colours you seem to favour when yarn shopping and crafting.

My favourite colours generally are blue, green and purple. A lot of my knitting tends to follow those colours, particularly if I want to wear it. However, I’ve had quite a lot of yarn given to me, or via sock yarn clubs, so I do have in my stash quite a wide variety of colours. Last year, on looking through my socks, I realised a gap in my colour range. I had no pink socks. Now, given that I dislike pink, this shouldn’t be a problem, but I am a priest in the Church of England and one of my secret geekish traits is to match my hand-knitted socks on Sundays to the colour of the vestments for the day. On the third Sunday in Advent and the fourth Sunday in Lent, traditionally, this means pink, so I must have pink socks. I haven’t completed them, but I’m working my way up the leg.

Only after writing this part of your post should you then actually look to see what colours you have used in your projects. Make a quick tally of what colours you have used in your projects over the past year and compare it to the colours you have written about. Compare this, in turn, to the colours that are most dominant in your yarn stash – do they correlate?

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Looking back at the year, I see that I have already knitted two pairs of pink socks – both to be given to other people. I’ve tried rainbow yarn and a few shades of grey, but otherwise I’ve stayed fairly well within my comfort zone. The very pink-looking one on the top row (third along from left) will look much less pink when finished – it is just the edging that is pink, the rest is grey-ish (with flecks of many other colours).

Now think back to your house animal – do the colours you have chosen relate to your animal in anyway – if you are in the house of peacock, for example, are your projects often multicoloured and bright?

No, I don’t think I can find anything monkeyish about these colours. I’ll finish with an update on my ongoing mitred square scarf. Can you tell the colour rules I’m following in placing the squares?

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I had help with the photoshoot.

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 3 – Infographic

Welcome to day 3 in the Fourth Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. I’m knitting for house monkey – the thinking knitters.

Kniting and crochet blog week house of monkey

Today ( search 4KCBWDAY3 to find other participants), the brief is:

Make your own infographic […] to convey any element of your craft(s). It can be just for fun or a thoroughly researched presentation of an idea/finding.

When knitting a sock, do you ever wonder how far until you are half way? (If you don’t, then bear with me).

Consider a sock…

My grand plan for today was a way to calculate your progress for any sock. I’m still working on the spreadsheet for the general case, but I’m ready to present my findings for a specific case.

There are surprisingly few variables in a standard top-down sock. I chose a 68 stitch sock, 12 rows of ribbing, 5 and a half inches of leg at a row gauge of 12 rows to the inch. A heel flap of 38 rows on half the stitches, a heel turn using Cookie A’s formula then gusset decreases at two stitches every other row. A total foot length of 9 inches, including a toe with 4 decreases every other round, moving to every round for the last few rows. End with a graft over 16 stitches.

How many stitches are there in the sock? 14,329. (I counted slipped stitches and decreases as single stitches). Have a click through the infographic to see your progress after each stage. The second one shows when you can truly say you are a quarter, half or three quarters of the way through.

Don’t forget to make the second sock.

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 2 – A mascot project

Yesterday, in the Fourth Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, we declared our houses, choosing which of four mascots best represents our crafting style. I chose house Monkey – knitting is all about new challenges.

Kniting and crochet blog week house of monkey

Today ( search 4KCBWDAY2 to find other participants), the brief is to describe a mascot project.

Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house. […] Whatever you choose, decide upon a project and blog about how and why it relates to your house/creature. You do not have to make this project! It is simply an exercise in blogging about how you come to decide upon what projects to make. Try and blog about the journey which inspiration and investigating patterns, yarns, stitches, (etc) can often guide you through.

My initial thought, which would have been an easy post, was to choose Cookie A’s Monkey socks. I like Cookie’s designs, I have the book they are in (or could very easily download the original pattern from Knitty for free) and I’m not exactly low on sock yarn either. That doesn’t really meet the brief. Time to think of something more challenging.

Most of the yarn I buy is bought on a whim: single skeins of lovely sock yarn or lace-weight. They are all just waiting for the right pattern to come along. The more expensive the yarn, the less likely it is to end up as socks. Feet deserve a treat, but there is a limit. I’m heading towards a shawl-type project instead, and wanting to use up some of the stash. I’ve made one shawl, one lace-weight stole and one cowl for me to wear. I would enjoy a non-traditional construction, or some new techniques.

Here are some of the fancier yarns I’m looking to put to good use in a project.

Mmmmmmalabrigo

This is some Malabrigo sock yarn, bought at Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show and waiting for the perfect pattern.

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Here’s some beautiful lace-weight 2-ply that I picked up in York when I needed to make up the amount I was purchasing to enough to use a credit card. 260 yards

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More laceweight – a bigger skein (870 yards). Another Harrogate purchase.

So, here we have three options for yarn to use, of slightly different weight and yardage.

The next stage is to hit the pattern section of ravelry and play with the search options. Never done this before? Try it. Seriously, stop reading, click here and come back when you’ve finished. You can narrow down the options in so many different ways.

I’ve gone looking for shawl-type patterns before and queued up some possibles:

Woodland Shawl – a long, thin rectangular shawl. No idea why I picked this one. It looks fairly similar to the Willow Leaf Stole that I made a few years ago. Not sure I want another long, thin shawl at the moment. NB – Free pattern

Simmer Dim – Sort of triangular/semi-circular. Brenda Dayne from Cast On has been talking about this shawl for quite a while and I rather like the look of it. Comes in lace-weight and 4-ply.

Verve – This is a circular shawl, worked flat. It came from Twist Collective Winter 2011, so its been in my queue for a while. I always read Twist and pick out my favourites, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually bought any patterns from them. This could be a first. It has bonus monkey-fodder of having picots, which I don’t think I’ve knitted before. There’ll be a lot of shawl to get through before the interesting bit though.

Windward – Not sure where this idea came from. It’s a Canadian designer, so could be via Yarn Harlot. Described as having a non-traditional construction, which I find interesting (and the description uses the word ‘contiguous’ – marvellous). It is written for Malabrigo Sock yarn, so I could actually use the correct yarn for the pattern – not what I usually do, but there’s a first for everything. So, this is definitely on the short-list.

The next option is to look at Romi Hill. The shawl I made last year is one of her patterns and I loved it. I went looking for lace-weight shawls and didn’t find one that particularly appealed, although Firebird came close.

The final option is to make a standard shawl, using a set of instructions from Laylock, and make the shawl a bit more interesting by adding a pattern. This is what I’m inclining towards for the little ball of yarn, so I can use as much of it as possible. Heart-shaped looks as if it could be quite interesting.

In conclusion, I’ve no real idea what I’m going to do, which is fairly indicative of my knitting style. However, this project will continue in the Extra Credit section of blog week. Within the main blog week there is no expectation of actually making this project – it is just an exercise to look at the process of knitting decisions. For extra credit you can decide to make the project and continue blogging throughout the year. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 1 – The House Cup

So, here we are with Day 1 of the Fourth Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week (search for 4KCBWDAY1 to find the other participants). Welcome, if you haven’t been here before.

The challenge today is to declare your house and explain what sort of knitter/crocheter you are. The four houses are Bee, Monkey, Manatee and Peacock, each with their own attributes. See eskimimi’s post about all four for more details.

Looking at the four houses, with their badges, I instantly wanted to be a bee or a peacock because I loved the look of their crests. However, peacocks are all about the finishing, adding sparkle and pretty touches to make something unique. When I finish something, I want it out of the door and on to the next thing straight away. Bees, on the other hand, have low concentration levels and flit from one thing to another. Let’s be honest, we all have days like that, but I don’t think it is my primary mode of operation. I tend to queue up possible next projects and let them marinade for a while before casting them on. Any day now I’ll be casting on a Color Affection shawl – so last summer, but I’ve had other things on the go.

It came down to manatee or monkey. Manatees love the relaxing part of knitting and, while I do see the value in settling down for a relaxing afternoon of garter stitch and a film on tv, that isn’t the reason I knit. I knit to learn new things, conquer difficult challenges and keep interested in what is happening in the fabric in front of me. Monkey it is then.

Kniting and crochet blog week house of monkey

The House of Monkey: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.

I’m writing these posts in advance and scheduling them to appear because my hours of work at the moment are a little crazy and who knows what I’ll be doing on Monday morning. I’ve set aside a whole day for knitting, it’s mid-afternoon and I’ve not yet picked up the needles, but I’m feeling as if I have spent the day knitting. I like to think things through, so I was thinking about knitting in the bath this morning, I’ve been reading some books on knitting, I’ve caught up on some knitting blogs and now I’m writing.

I love the challenge of thinking through a pattern and figuring it out properly. Socks are my usual learning tool. According to my ravelry profile, I’m knitting my 32nd pair of adult socks and they’ve all taught me something. My first project when I came back to knitting was a simple pair of top-down socks, all in stocking stitch, with a heel-flap. I don’t think I have ever knitted another pair like that. I’ve done toe-up, many different heel constructions, colour work, lace, cables, beads and plenty else. I’m not done knitting socks yet either. my current pair – Tintern Abbey by Brenda Dayne – have included learning the Sherman method for toes and heels. I found the instructions an absolute swine to follow, but got there in the end. I even ripped a heel back twice in order to get it right. This is progress, since I’m normally too stubborn to redo things and will just knit on and make things work .

Sherman Heel
Sherman Heel
Not a Sherman Heel
Not a Sherman Heel

That was Day 1 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. Do leave a comment with a link to your blog. I’m always interested in adding new feeds to my reader. More tomorrow.

Pre-Blog-Week round-up

Tomorrow sees the start of Knitting and Crochet Blog week but, before that gets under way, there are a few items to blog.

Remember the Woolly Wormhead hat workshop I went on a while back? Well, I finished the hat. It’s a beret with three spirals on it. The spirals rather pull the beret out of shape, but it’s a good basic hat.

Unblocked:

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Blocked (while dry, put on a dinner plate; wet it and leave until dry)

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This is the first hat I’ve made that actually fits nicely round the crown. Thanks Woolly, for the handouts and the theory of hats.

The pink socks are coming along nicely, but you’ll be hearing more about that later in the week.

On the edge of the terrace, (not as grand as it sounds), in the back garden we’ve had a really long fence put up to stop the small children jumping off and injuring themselves. As soon as I saw it I thought that it had potential for displaying knitting.

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(We also have a visiting pheasant. I’ve named him Cedric.)

The new header is a first attempt at using the fence. I’m sure there will be more in the future.