Yarn Crawl New Mexico, Part 3

Knit. Purl. Tink.

For our last day in New Mexico, on the suggestion of Jolanda, our BnB hostess, we decided to visit Bandelier National Monument in Los Alamos. It was a tough call, as I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and an arrhythmia on the day before we were supposed to leave on our trip. Everything got pushed back by two days because I had to have a nuclear stress test before we could leave. My doctor warned me to take it easy, so we agreed that I would avoid any major climbing and we would walk the trail very slowly.

It was worth it, because Bandelier is breathtakingly beautiful. While I was able to take pictures from the canyon trail, I was not able to climb the million stairs up to the pueblo caves. At the bottom of the stairs, I gave Ron a 30 second lesson in how to set the f-stop and…

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Gone Girl

Knit. Purl. Tink.

I know it’s a little silly to start a brand new blog and then disappear off the face of the earth, but life got a little crazy. It’s starting to get back to normal, which includes writing more regularly. I’m back, baby!

Lots of stuff happened while I was away from WordPress, including the interface going screwy. What was wrong with the old one? Not sure I like this bright and shiny interface. Why, WordPress, why???

The knitting related stuff was pretty wonderful, though. My husband and I escaped to New Mexico for five glorious nights and he very patiently took me to several shops and alpaca/llama farms in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe area, including a new shop in Los Alamos. I bought way too much yarn. That’s a lie, because there is no such thing as way too much yarn. Bite my tongue!

We stayed at Llamas del Sol

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Friday On The Needles

Knit. Purl. Tink.

A day late again, but it’s been a bit of a stressful week. Of course, that just means I’ve spent extra knitting time! A few of us from my Sunday group decided to start a Thursday night group which was a complete blast. Unfortunately, one friend is going to visit her grandkids and another is about to start a consulting project, making her short on time. It might be just me for a while, but I never mind KIPping (knitting in public).

First up is the absolutely gorgeous Cavallo Point by Brenda Patipa. I’m using Knit Picks Palette in Seafaring. The stitch definition is perfect and I can’t wait to wear it to New Mexico in October. A local designer who uses Palette for many of her patterns reassured me that once it is washed and steam blocked, it will relax and be super soft. Palette is actually quite…

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Sunday Lexicon – Lace For Beginners

Knitting lace in public draws a lot of attention. Lace is impressive, especially to non-knitters or even new knitters. What I love about lace is it is often REALLY easy! Stop laughing, because I’m quite serious.

I’m going to assume you know how to do a long-tail cast on, a stretchy bind-off, and of course, how to knit and purl. The key to basic lace is knowing four more simple stitches and one technique. Unless you are working on Estonian or Shetland lace, well known for their complicated stitch combinations, lace work is often less confusing than cables.

Rather than try to explain how to do each stitch, I’ve linked to video tutorials. If you can master these five things, YOU can knit lace! If you like a video tutorial, please be sure to leave a nice comment on youtube for that video. It takes a lot of work to make an easy to follow tutorial, so show a little love❤

Yarn Over (YO): The YO is what gives lace the holes. It’s what makes lace…well, lacy! It’s as simple as moving your working yarn from the back to the front (if doing a YO between two knit stitches), wrapping it completely around from front to front (if going from a knit to a purl or between two purls), or leaving it in front (if going from a purl to a knit).

This video by iknitwithcatfur shows how to do every combination of yarn over.

 

Slip Slip Knit (SSK): This creates a left leaning single decrease, often used to emphasize a V shape of some kind. While reading patterns out loud to myself, I refer to it as a “sskitch,” as in slip slip knit stitch. Video by The Knit Witch.


Knit Two Together (K2Tog): This creates a right leaning single decrease, also used to emphasize a V shape. Video by The Knit Witch

 

Centered Double Decrease (CDD), also known as Slip Two, Knit One, Pass Slipped Stitches Over (S2, K1, PSSO): This decreases by two and leaves a raised stitch. I love putting beads on CDD (S2K1PSSO) because the raised stitch makes beads stand out even more. The key to beading a CDD using the crochet hook method is to put the bead on the second stitch before slipping the first two stitches. Your bead will be front and center when you are done! Video by New Stitch A Day.

 

Lifeline: The most important thing to know about lace, especially if you want to avoid pulling out all of your hair in frustration, is how to use a lifeline. This is not a stitch, but a technique that will keep you from insanity when something goes more than a little awry. I generally use white sewing thread on a tapestry needle, but you can use waste yarn or the ever popular dental floss. Floss is extremely hardy and cheap. Leave about six to eight inches hanging on each side so it doesn’t get sucked all the way in to your work. If you put a lifeline in the row after each repeat (set of rows), not only will you have a spot to frog back to, you can keep track of how many repeats you’ve done. Video by The Knit Witch.


Many mistakes have quick fixes that don’t require tinking back a row or two or frogging back to a lifeline. Have an extra stitch? Just knit the next two together. Missing a stitch where you need to k2tog? Just knit one. Missing a stitch where you need one? Knit through the front and back loop of the next stitch (or previous stitch if that’s more appropriate), or do a Make One (M1).

My favorite super easy beginner knitted lace shawl is the Kuura (free pattern on Ravelry). I can whip it out in a week, and I’m a slow knitter. The pattern is easy to memorize and it’s very forgiving of mistakes. Just make sure that your CDDs match up and everything else will fall in place. Gauge isn’t important, but it does affect the size. If you want a fast shawl that is a good length and width, use a worsted weight yarn and a size 9 needle. Faster and easier? Use a bulky yarn and a size 11 needle.

Believe it or not, Morrigan (also free on Ravelry) is another very simple pattern that just looks crazy impressive. Technically, I’m just about done with it but I want it to be longer and wider so I have to add a few more repeats. Again, gauge affects the size, so if you want fast and easy, use the same recommendations above. With Morrigan, just as with Kuura, as long as your CDDs match up in a straight line, the rest is pretty forgiving.

You don’t have to be smack dab in the middle of a shawl to practice these stitches. Knit up a swatch in garter or stockinette, then start playing around. That’s the best way to see exactly what each stitch looks like and how it behaves. Once you’ve got the hang of it, jump right in. You’ll be the center of attention in public and your non-knitting friends will think you are a knitting genius. The simplicity of knitted lace will be our little secret!

P.S. As of August 1, all new content will only be posted to my new site, www.knitpurltink.com. Just click that link, then click the “Follow” up near the top left!

Whither Shall I Follow, Follow, Follow, Whither Shall I Follow, Follow Thee

So much exciting stuff is happening, I can’t stand it! The new blog at http://www.knitpurltink.com is coming along nicely. I’m working on some of  the graphics stuff at the moment, but I know I’ll have it ready by the 1st of August. Stop by and click the follow link so you don’t miss my tales of yarn woe! The blue button on the top right will allow you to follow through your wordpress account, while the email sign up means you’ll get every new post in the mail. Pretty cool, right?

Earlier last month, my husband asked if I wanted to go with him to the corporate conference in Newport Beach, CA. Since I have friends there, I thought it would be fun. However, the more we thought about it, the less fun it seemed. There’s nothing to do there, and we wouldn’t have a car to go around sight seeing, not to mention we wouldn’t have the time. He suggested we go somewhere else to celebrate our second credit card being paid off, which will happen at the end of August. Whoo hoo!

Since we both love New Mexico and it’s only a 10 to 12 hour drive (when you live in central Texas, it’s an 8 hour drive just to leave the state), we decided to pop up to Santa Fe / ABQ for a few days. That’s when it occurred to me that this was my opportunity to knock something off my bucket list: the Balloon Fiesta!! I’ve wanted to go since I was 5 years old, so this is a lifelong dream. Being an avid photographer, getting an opportunity to take pics of the mass ascension and the night glows is a fantasy come true.

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Of course, since we’re going to be in New Mexico, land of llamas and alpacas, I started checking out yarn stores online. There are two in ABQ, three in Santa Fe, and then several farms in the area. Needless to say, I’m packing extremely light so I have room for all those yarny goodness souvenirs! Fortunately on August 1, our street is having a humongous garage sale with all three blocks participating. This will be my time to clear out all my crap yarn, unused supplies, and various furnishings in various stages of repair. All that money is going in my vacation shopping account!

We plan to stay at least one night at Llamas del Sol so I can meet the llamas and chat with the owner, Lynda, who is also a spinner and felter. I’d love to stay there the entire time, but there’s no internet. Since Ron is taking a much needed albeit highly inconveniently timed vacation, he needs to have internet access in case something goes wrong at work.

llamasdelsol

In Santa Fe, I want to pop in at Que Sara Alpacas, too. They even have a store where they sell their own yarn!

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Yup, I think I’ll manage to stay pretty busy. Meanwhile, I’ll be knitting up a storm. Hats, fingerless mitts, leg warmers, shawls, and a shopping bag. On that note, I’d better get crackin!

“I tink, therefore I am….a knitter.”

http://www.knitpurltink.com

Sunday Lexicon – Swatch, Gauge, and Tension

Note: A day late, but for a very good reason! I got to spend a rare date day with my husband and totally forgot to post🙂

We bitch, we moan, we cry, beg, rant, rave, plead, and promise. I don’t know a single person who enjoys swatching, but if you want your sweater, socks, or hat to fit you or the person you are making it for, it’s a necessity.

Swatch: A test square used to determine if your yarn, your needles or hook, and your stitching match up to that of the pattern designer. Although a swatch is usually 4″ by 4″, it’s often a good idea to make your square bigger so when it is washed and blocked, it will still be at least 4″. While you can make or use a tension square (a square with a 4″ x 4″ hole in the center), you can also measure 4″ with a ruler and place a pin to mark. Do this for each side, then start counting.

An Addi tension square. The holes are for checking the size of your needles. Vintage needles don't always have the size on them.

An Addi tension square. The holes are for checking the size of your needles. Vintage needles don’t always have the size on them.

Gauge: How many rows per inch and stitches per inch. Yarn weight, needle or hook size, and tension will all effect your gauge, which is why you should always swatch before beginning a fitted project.

Tension: How tight (or loose) a particular crafter’s stitches are.

Tension is most often affected by mood, especially with new yarn crafters. If you are anxious, angry, or worried, your stitches may be tighter than if you are relaxed. If you find that your hands are cramping after a short period, you may just be holding your yarn and hook/needles too tightly. Put your project down, take a few deep breaths, fix a cup of tea, and come back with a clearer mind. Of course, we all have those moments when we are knitting for sanity; that’s when you want to work on a project where gauge doesn’t matter so much, like a scarf or afghan.

What to do if your gauge doesn’t match the pattern gauge? If you have too many stitches and rows per inch, use a bigger hook or needle. Too few stitches and rows per inch, use a smaller hook or needle. If your stitches match up but your rows don’t, side with the stitch count. It’s easier to add a few rows here and there than it is to mess with stitch count.

If you are using a lighter weight yarn (such as DK when the pattern calls for worsted), you will likely need a larger hook/needles to compensate for the thinner yarn. A tight stitcher can also compensate with larger hook/needles. Likewise, if you are using worsted when a project calls for DK, or you are a loose stitcher, then using a smaller size should make up for it.

Always wash and block your swatch before checking the gauge. The yarn may shrink, the stitches may tighten or loosen, or you may find that the yarn you’ve chosen just doesn’t drape as well as you’d like after it is washed. Just because the pattern designer chose a particular yarn doesn’t mean you will like it too. You may prefer something softer, or perhaps something with a little more body. This is YOUR project, so it helps if you love your yarn. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with that skein, so make sure you want to be its friend before you invest all that time and effort.

And here is my cautionary tale regarding swatching: Friday On The Needles. The hilarious thing is that I wrote this post several days before I washed the hat. Yeah, following my own advice might be kinda klever.

Follow me over at Knit.Purl.Tink, my new home for my knitting adventures, tales of yarn woe, and reviews! As of August 1, all new content will be on the new blog, so I hope to see you there!

Changes Are Coming!

Dear Crochet,

When I first started this blog, I had absolutely no idea how to knit, and no hope of ever learning. You were it for me, and we were happy together. While I still have a fondness in my heart for hooks and cheap yarn, I have to admit it’s time to move on.

From the moment I learned how to balance two needles wrapped in superfine alpaca and do a long-tail cast on, I’ve been in love. Mad, passionate, ridiculous love. I not only knit, I am a knitter. It is in evidence in every room of my house (there are needles in the kitchen and various projects in the laundry room), from the moment one walks in the front door. I feel like I need to embrace my new identity in order to be the person I’m truly meant to be.

Doesn't everyone keep yarn by their front door?

Doesn’t everyone keep yarn, patterns, and stitch markers by their front door?

Please don’t feel used, although you are still the most efficient way to pop out a baby blanket before the kid graduates from high school. I will always remember the nights we spent huddled together in front of the fireplace, the plane flights to not so exotic locations, the long hours spent in waiting rooms on the other side of security gateways. You took me places that needles may never get to go, but it’s just not enough anymore.

I know there are others out there who will appreciate you the way I once did. You still make beautiful lace…doilies. Your afghans are warm, comfortable, and fast. You look fabulous in bargain bin acrylic. But I have needs. NEEDS.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to leave right away. I mean, we do need time to tell our friends that my address will be changing to knitpurltink.com.

My hooks will still be kept in a vase in my craft room, although they may be a bit dusty from disuse. I won’t forget you. And remember, it’s not you, it’s me.

Love,

Carolyn

Friday On The Needles

I am oh so sad. I was ecstatic to finish my Eva Marie hat, only to have it completely collapse when I washed it. I mean the thing was big enough to hold a couple of gallons of ice cream. I even put it in the dryer on high heat, hoping that would tighten it up, but it’s still loose and shapeless. It’s also still somewhat damp, so I hold out hope that it will gain some shape after it is completely dry, but at the moment, I want to cry.

It looked beautiful (if somewhat large) when I first finished it, though!

emhat1 emhat2

 

Now it is just a shapeless blob. If it doesn’t shape up, I will take it apart and make it again on MUCH smaller needles. MUCH smaller.

In spite of that disaster, I’m quite happy to have Morrigan out of time out. I’m about halfway done with repeat four, which means I’m technically just about done, but it is way too small for my taste. I will have to add at least two if not three more repeats. I think the pattern as written is more of a shawlette. Or maybe it’s just my yarn…although I did use cashmere lace, which is what the pattern suggests.

I am looking forward to future projects, one of which will be Larisa Valeeva’s Queen of Roses shawl.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/queen-of-roses-

(Sorry, all the photos are copyrighted, so click the link to get a glimpse!) I’ve been dying to make this as a wedding shawl for my daughter’s future marriage (no, no guy or proposal, but I know how slowly I knit, and this thing is a bear). I’ve never seen anything so beautiful, and the idea that I have the ability to make it is phenomenal. It will take ages, as we’re talking thousands of yards of lace yarn. I am prepared, though. I’ve spent the last two weeks studying her instructions, practicing stitches, plotting, planning… I will only do this once, so it has to be perfect. I plan to attack it in February at the fiber retreat, where I will be surrounded by experienced knitters including a self-professed lace surgeon (she is!). I want three uninterrupted days of quiet in a pet-free environment when I get started, until I have the hang of the repeats.

It has taken me a full two weeks to even figure out the setup chart. I kept reading the instructions that talk about 42 rows, 21 stitches plus 12 yarn overs, and trying to make that equal 43 stitches while simultaneously equaling 27 stitches plus 10 edge stitches. Huh? Finally, after a blurry eyed morning of reading the pattern for the fifth hundredth time, I found the problem…I kept looking at the numbers (41, 19, 21, 12, 43, 37, 8, 5) and trying to get them to add up…I was missing the bit that said, “yo, k1, yo.” After finding the missing six stitches, it all fell into place and I had a monumental “AHA” moment. I need to practice garter tabs, but I’ll be ready by February.

Between now and then, though, I have Bella Botanica printed, yarn and beads purchased, and I’m ready to get that one on the needles soon. I still have Dr. B’s Quilt and Cable throw in time out, but it should be allowed back into the light soon. I need to re-thread my Dragonfly colorway of the Kuura shawl and finish it, as well as pop another Tidal one out for Aubrey. I’ve still got the Winter Flame scarf on the needles, and I’d like to make the Status Quo scarf before Christmas. I have Matt’s cowl to do before Christmas. There are a few other hats in the Knit Scene Accessories mag that I’d like to try, and finally, I want to give a go at a pair of two at a time, toe up socks. Whew! Oh, and I’m knitting bandages for the DOVE foundation as part of a meetup group called the Bandage Brigade.

As for hats, and socks, I have learned my lesson. Swatch. Swatch. Swatch. Including washing and drying the swatch. Yeah……