Friday, March 4, 2011

Almost There...

Most of the knitting is now completed for Michele's Turtle Neck.  I had to frog and re-knit one of the sleeves completely.  I have to admit, with a 50 stitch cable pattern, that was tough to take -- but I persevered.  It is now perfect -- so much so that I even ended on the exact same row as the other sleeve.  It's never worked out that way for me before.  Seaming (not my favorite - why do most of us dislike it so?) and knitting the neck which should not take too long.  Michele, who's second great niece Olivia was born this week, is so excited.  I hope there's a cold day left for her to wear it before packing it away for next year.  I will post a picture when it is complete -- hopefully with her wearing it.

I like to seam when I can do the whole thing at once, so I'm waiting until the weekend.  In the meantime, I knitted my first toy.  This one is from Knit Simple's Holiday 2010 issue:

I love this little guy.  He came out a little wonky, but he is the perfect size for a small toddler or baby.  He is just the perfect amount of squishable.  I gave him to my friend's little boy Dylan.  I have a few more to knit for my nieces and new nephew too.  I tried to do the eyes in duplicate stitch, but just couldn't get it to work.  Since I've never done it before, I watched a few videos online, but it just wasn't working.  After I finished it, I talked to the Master (my Mom) and she talked me through it, so I will try it on the next one.

My next project is a cardi for my niece Kate who is turning 12 in a few weeks.  I hope to have it done by her birthday, but we'll see.  I wanted to do something colorful, but after discussing it with my sister-in-law, Kate is more of a solid color gal when it comes to her clothing, so the color work project I've been anxious to get into will just have to wait until after that.

I have discovered these Signature DP Needles and I am a goner.  WOW-- so sleek, so light, so fast!  I received them on Wednesday and it was love at first knit & purl.  Thursday I ordered circulars --- all of them.  I know, I know -- I felt a little guilty about the expense, but I rationalized away.  This is my only hobby.  I haven't bought any yarn in several months that I didn't need for a specific project.  These needles are so well made, they should last forever.  And I'll just sell all my other needles on Ebay or Etsy (yeah, right!).  All I can say is, the budget is closed for any knitting needles for quite some time!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Needles 'n Gadgets 'n Accessories, Oh My

I love knitting needles.  I vacillate between loving bamboo and metal.  I have acquired lots and lots of needles over the years.  Now, I mostly knit with circulars.  I find that they are much easier on my wrists.  At one point in time, all I owned were the same brand of bamboo, fairly popular in the big-box stores.  As I moved into my preference for circulars though, I have found that the cord on those is just too difficult to deal with when you are trying to build up a rhythm. 

I also love knitting gadgets -- especially stitch markers.  They are so fun.  I spent some time this week on Etsy checking out the creative things people are doing with them -- even bought a few sets.  I always seem to lose them though, so I'm trying to come up with a better way of organizing and storing them.  Would love to hear any suggestions!  If I'm feeling really creative, I will buy different beads and make my own.  This happens once every few years, but I was really in the mood this week, so I went overboard and ordered more beads than I will probably ever need to make into stitch markers.

I think the coolest knitting gadget I have is the most simple -- a key chain with a little tiny crochet hook on the end.  It is genius for picking up dropped stitches.  I admire people that think of a product to solve a problem and follow through with bringing it to market.

I finished one sleeve of my current WIP Cabled Cowl Neck.  I'm looking forward to finishing the other sleeve, sewing it together and presenting Michele with the finished product.  I've been dreaming of my next project which will involve color work of some sort.  I have some ideas, but haven't decided on any one thing yet.  In researching, I managed to purchase a few books for my knitting library.  These are the only actually books I purchase since getting the Kindle a few years ago.  I just have to have knitting books in print. I'll be starting it soon, but in the meantime there may be a few fun quick knits for the kids coming soon.

Pictures of my newly acquired gadgets when I receive them in the mail!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Winter Blahs

This is not my favorite time of year.  The older I get the more I realize it too.  This year there's snow on the ground for added fun -- it's been there, at varying depths, since the day after Christmas.  This never happens here.  I find myself yearning to see something green -- a blade of grass would do it -- something to remind me that Spring will eventually arrive.  I know I'm going to feel this way until the end of March or beginning of April too, and it feels like a really long time until then.

I've been working away on Michele's sweater.  I am almost done with the front.  I'd post a picture, but it looks the same as the back in my previous post, so that would be kinda redundant.  The sleeves shouldn't take to long.  My mom always suggests that I knit the sleeves at the same time.  I don't know why I have always rejected this idea out of hand, but I think I am going to try it this time. 

Michele is so excited about it.  I'm glad.  It makes me feel good to do that for her, and it's worth every stitch.  The added bonus is that I'm teaching her how to knit.  She has tried before, but felt like she just couldn't get it.  We started small and she has been working on the knit stitch.  She's really doing great.  There were a few spots to fix after her first week of practice, but just going through it with her a second time seems to really have done the trick.  She seems to really be enjoying it.  We're knitting preemie caps for a local charity.  Michele is one of my favorite people on this planet.  She's extrodinary.

When I first started knitting different types of projects, I would have several going at once, socks, a few hats, some charity knitting (whatever I was working on at the time), a sweater of some sort and maybe a scarf with some fun new yarn.  This was fine with me for the longest time until one day I realized I wasn't finishing anything.  I decided that once I finished everything I had on needles at the time, I would start working on just one project at a time until it was finished.  I'm not normally this organized, but I have to say, it's working well for me.  I find when I get toward the end of the current project, I start dreaming, imagining and researching my next project.  It forces me to really think it through before starting.  I really never thought this type of process would work for me, but it does -- so I'm sticking with it.  The only caveat to this is the preemie caps.  They are so fast and easy, I knit them before going to sleep.  It's mindless knitting which is what I need at that time of the day.  Do you prefer one project at a time, or several on the needles at once?

My thoughts on my next project?  A sweater for my niece Kate who is about to turn 12.  A cardigan and something really colorful -- I think she would like that a lot.  Since I made the jumpers for my other nieces, she's due -- hmm -- maybe I could work the green in!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Recent Knitting

I've been knitting like crazy lately for a few reasons, but mostly because I'm obsessed with it right now.  Does this happen to you too?  I have periods where I'm not very interested in knitting anything, then like a tidal wave, I just can't get enough.

Another reason is we have a new baby in the family --EJ-- who is not quite 4 weeks old.  EJ has two older sisters so there are no hand-me-downs for this handsome boy.  First he needed hats to keep his wee head warm.  Then Aunt Donna insisted he have a little blue sweater like his sisters.  He needed these two items immediately, so I'm afraid no pictures.  Next my sister -EJ's mommy-requested blankets because again everything she has is toned for girls.  My favorite simple baby sweater pattern is Cardigan Sweater found in The Baby Knits Book by Debbie Bliss. 

Here is the blanket I whipped up while on hiatus for Christmas from Simply Baby by Debbie Bliss.
(I see now that it is badly in need of blocking)

I couldn't do all this knitting for EJ without making something for his beautiful sisters so they are getting these from the December issue of Knit Simple. The little one is two. The pattern did not have specs for that small of a size so I calculated it myself. I hope it fits (fingers crossed).  These I've blocked.
I just love these cables - so loose and casual.  I can't wait to see the girls modeling them for us.

In the middle of all this a knitting, my oldest and dearest friend Michele requested a turtle neck sweater. We settled on this pattern from Creative Knitting magazine, November 2010 issue.  Though the pattern is a cowl neck, I'm going to switch it to a turtle neck.  Here is the back which I had to frog twice because I realized I made a mistake on the small cables by crossing in the opposite direction.  The second time took out about 1/2 of my progress, but my good friend deserves perfection. 
She is so appreciative too.  Love Michele!  Love Cascade 220 Superwash!

While I'm at it with the pictures, I thought I would include one of the little man in my life -- my Ollie in his favorite position.  You can't see it, but he loves to look out the window at the driveway.  Not much happens out there, but you should see how worked up he gets over the squirrels.  Love my boy and his white socks! (he drives me crazy knocking all the sofa cushions out of whack every day)  My buddy has a great smile.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Knitting Beginnings

I love knitting for so many reasons, but the primary reason is that it is the one creative thing I have ever felt like I could do and not be embarassed by my work.  I don't mean that in a self-depricating way at all.  When I was a kid, I had a few friends that were really good at drawing.  I thought it was so cool that they could draw, and it actually looked good -- recognizable.  My cousin Jeanne was brilliant at drawing.  I remember once while visiting with my Grandmother (she and Jeanne's mother were sisters) she was drawing and gave me a lesson.  She probably doesn't even remember this, but I do.  The two or three things she taught me to draw that day were the only things I could ever draw!  I tried hard too.  Even I couldn't see how what I put on the page with my pencil looked anything like my intentions.  It was ok too.  I learned early that not everyone could do everything which was a good lesson to learn so soon.  This is part of what made us unique people. I knew there was something creative I would be good at -- all I had to do was find it.

The same grandmother, Munna we called her, taught me how to knit when I was about 6 years old.  Munna and I had a special relationship.  She came to live with us after my grandfather passed away.  I was 4 and had two brothers who where not very fun for a girl of 4.  Munna and I spent lots of time together.  She had been working full-time for some time which was unique for 1968.  She was tired when she got home after a full day of retail.  After dinner, she would sit down to watch TV with us and was usually knitting.  I thought it was so cool that she could make us sweaters and blankets.  One evening when I was about 6, I was asking her all sorts of questions about her knitting so she asked me if I wanted to learn, and I jumped at the chance.  After a few nights, she saw that I had the knit stitch down, so she showed me the purl stitch.  Wow -- another stitch to learn.  My first project was a scarf --isn't everyone's first project a scarf?  My memory gets sort of burry, but I do remember sitting next to my Munna with my crooked scarf working away and thinking about how wonderful she was to me for teaching me something so cool and how much I loved her.

A few years later Munna built a small house and moved out of our house.  She was within walking distance, but it wasn't the same as having her there every night.  I would visit her often, but we didn't do much knitting. 
I would start a knitting project here and there in the following years also learned how to crochet, but it wasn't until I was in my late 30's that I really got the bug for knitting.  My mother has always been an avid knitter.  She is truly a master.  Through our teens she made us countless fisherman's sweaters with elaborate cable work and fair isle sweaters with beautiful designs -- and afghans galore!  She would get frustrated with me because all I would knit where things that were square -- scarfs and afgans -- for years.  I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to put a sweater together.  All that changed when my sister was expecting her first child.  We found out she was having a girl.  I really wanted to make the baby a sweater.  My mother was very encouraging -- " is small..." she said, " won't take long and there won't be that much sewing.  It's the perfect first sweater project."  To my delight, I made my beautiful new niece a tiny pink sweater without much frogging at all.  I was so surprised that I did it, and it was not at all as complicated as I thought it would be.  Here it is -- she was about 2 months old here.

My girl is nearly 6 today -- and there have been lots of garments produced in those 6 years - sweaters, socks, hats, mittens, gloves, you name it  -- and I love it!