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.

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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……

Sunday Lexicon – Weight

At today’s knitting group, someone asked what “DK” meant. Although she’s a long time yarnaholic like the rest of us, she’s never really learned about the differences in yarn and how they can affect a project. That inspired me to start a weekly lexicon for those who may not necessarily be new to the craft, but are new to the terminology. This week, let’s talk about weight.

Weight is another way to refer to a yarn’s thickness. It is highly variable, depending on the manufacturer. The most standardized way to determine a yarn’s thickness is WPI, or Wraps Per Inch. To determine the WPI, take a ruler, or anything you can make a one inch measurement on, and wrap your yarn around it. Count how many lines of yarn you see between one inch. Easy, right? Now it doesn’t matter who makes the yarn, you can easily ensure you’re using the same weight of yarn called for in a particular pattern.

This WPI sheep is adorable!

This WPI sheep is adorable! Sold on etsy by MoonsongFiberworks. Click the pic to go to their listing.

 

Starting with the lightest weight:

Cobweb: 40 or more WPI, about 1200 yards per 50 gram skein

Cobweb is often used for shawls and other lace projects. It is super-fine, sometimes thinner than sewing thread. NEVER try to wind cobweb weight yarn without a yarn swift, trust me.

Lace: 36 to 40 WPI, about 440 yards per 50 gram skein

Lace is also used for shawls and other lace projects, but can also be used for colorwork if you want to keep the thickness of your final project manageable.

Fingering: 24 to 30 WPI, around 220 yards per 50 gram skein

Fingering, also known as sock yarn, is most often used for…socks! It’s also popular for baby items, fingerless mittens, and gloves. It’s easy to work cables in fingering, too.

Sport: 18 to 24 WPI, around 120 yards per 50 gram skein

Sport is popular for socks, baby items, hats, gloves, and colorwork. It’s also great for summer weight tops and sweaters.

Double Knitting, or DK: 12 to 18 WPI, about 120 yards per 50 gram skein

DK is perfect for, well, double knitting! DK and Sport are often interchanged, so be sure to compare the WPI of your chosen yarn with the WPI of the yarn recommended for your project.

Worsted: 10 to 12 WPI, around 110 yards per 50 gram skein

You may hear the term “worsted weight” a lot, as that is what most big box store acrylic yarn is, particularly Caron Simply Soft, Red Heart Super Saver, Lily Sugar ‘N Cream, and much of the Lion Brand line. Worsted is the go-to yarn for many items, particularly sweaters, slippers, and bags. It is the workhorse of yarn craft. Anything from slippers to afghans, hats, gloves, baby items, bags, scarves…anything you can knit, you can knit with worsted (and yes, I do mean lace!).

Bulky: Less than 8 WPI, around 60 yards per 50 gram skein (although most often sold in 100 gram skeins)

Bulky is great for rugs, heavy jackets, and bags. It’s also great for felting, as with felting, projects need to be knitted larger so that when it shrinks, it is the right size. Larger yarn means fewer stitches, and since you’re felting it anyway, who cares?

Chunky: Less than 6 WPI, around 50 yards per 50 gram skein

Chunky is also known as super-bulky, and is also good for rugs, heavy jackets, and bags.

Don’t think that this will save you from making a gauge swatch, though! If you’re making a fitted item, swatch, swatch, swatch. But if you are making a blanket and don’t mind if it’s a bit off, or like the pattern but want your product to be much larger (or smaller), knowing the weight of your yarn vs. the recommended yarn weight will help. Personally, I love shawls, but spending a month or more to make a lace shawl isn’t always do-able, particularly if it’s a gift. Switch over to worsted weight and a larger needle or hook, make fewer repetitions, and finish a whole lot faster!

Weight isn’t the only factor in determining how your finished fabric will look and feel, but it is definitely important. Hook/needle size, tension, and the yarn itself will all play a role, but weight is the first thing to consider when trying to figure out how your chosen yarn will compare to the recommended yarn.

Enjoy and remember, “Knit through everything!”

Friday On The Needles – Flames!

(Ok, I know this is late, but better late than never, right? Just pretend you are reading this last Friday!)

This has been a busy week of project swapping. I started a scarf but got about 40 rows in and decided I didn’t like it, frogged it, and started another.

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The Mariner’s Scarf. I like the basket weave, but it just wasn’t draping right with this particular yarn.

 

The Winter Flame Scarf is much more suited to this particular yarn. It requires a stiffer drape so that the stitch definition really shows.

The yarn is much more suited to the Winter Flame Scarf. It requires a stiffer drape so that the stitch definition really shows…now if only my phone camera would cooperate.

I checked out Wendy Knits Lace by Wendy D. Johnson from the library and fell in love with several of the designs, particularly the Tiffany Shawl and the Two-Thirds Shawl. I had the perfect violet bamboo yarn for the Tiffany Shawl in my stash, so I whipped up the first chart in the pattern.

The beginning of Chart A of Wendy D. Johnson's Tiffany Shawl.

The beginning of Chart A of Wendy D. Johnson’s Tiffany Shawl. Not sure how I feel about the stitch definition with this yarn/needle combo, either. May try a smaller needle before I commit.

However, for the Two-Thirds Shawl, I faced the classic knitter’s dilemma. In spite of the countless skeins of yarn in my stash, I did not have enough of any of them. Seriously? I’m obviously slacking on my stashing here! Fortunately, a friend handed over a gorgeous hand dyed skein of pure bamboo cobweb. My favorite LYS owner offered to wind it for me if I was willing to bring it in when she didn’t have a class going. However, my being the impatient sort, I decided to wind it myself, without so much as a second pair of hands. HUGE mistake. Or as I like to refer to it, a horrifying tactical yarn disaster. With three cranks of my ball winder’s handle, my beautiful skein turned into a somewhat hopeless pile of thread spaghetti.

Lesson learned: buy a yarn swift or wait for the LYS to wind it!

Lesson learned: buy a yarn swift or wait for the LYS to wind it!

I have spent several hours a day for the last four days unraveling the mess a few inches at a time. This is a 1050 yard skein, so 3150 feet of  tangled web. It will be months before I’m done winding it, but I did learn a valuable lesson in patience.

Wendy Knits Lace is well written with easy to follow pattern instructions. As a bonus, the pattern charts can be downloaded from the publisher’s website, so no trying to scan the chart and ending up with blurred symbols. I’m not a huge fan of the 3in1 stitch used in the Stacy Shawl, as I think it twists the yarn excessively, but most of the other patterns are quite straightforward. Wendy includes something from the most popular wearable categories, including scarves, shawls, socks, caps, and sweaters. As one of my LYS owners said in a recent knit group, she only buys books that have at least three patterns that interest her. Wendy Knits Lace meets that requirement and more.

My KnitPicks order came today and I am overwhelmed with smooshiness! All of my wool and alpaca is so soft and luscious, I can’t wait until winter! Okay, maybe I can because if not, I’d never have these projects done in time. I immediately dug out a skein of Swish DK in Coal and started the first few rounds of the Eva Marie hat. This is my first “in the round” project, so I was thrilled to have my join turn out surprisingly effortless, thanks to this fabulously helpful video from New Stitch A Day!

For the moment, Morrigan is taking a break, and the Quilt and Cable is still in time-out. I’ll get back to them soon, no worries.

I managed to make it to my Saturday and Sunday knit groups, as well as my Tuesday morning, but haven’t been anywhere since then. My lovely daughter turned 21 (that’s her in my header!) on Tuesday, so we took her out for karaoke and some not so wild drinking. Because she’s only had a margarita here and there, she has no tolerance and spent Wednesday trying not to move in an effort to keep water down. She very cleverly took Wednesday off from work, so she had the entire day and half of Thursday to recover and I stayed home to take care of her.

Last night, I had a painful flare of PCS (precordial catch syndrome) that lasted until 6am this morning. In spite of pain meds, I spent the night tossing and turning because I couldn’t breathe. I am hoping that taking time to stretch in between knitting frenzies will help it from happening too often. Just another bunch of letters to add to my alphabet soup of pain syndromes. Thank goodness for knitting, because it really helps take my mind off much of the pain.

In spite of that, I’m going to this weekend’s knit groups come hell or high water.

Friday On The Needles

It’s been a long and busy week. I started the Morrigan shawl on Sunday and I’m about 3/5ths done already. I love love love these easy patterns that look so intricate! Even though I’ve been super tired this week and have had to take naps and go to bed early several times, I still managed to get quite a bit knitted up.

It helps that I made the effort to go to Wednesday night’s Inskein Asylum, a knitting meet-up at my LYS, Inskein Yarns. Of course, there were a few distractions when I first walked in the door, like the long shelf with tons of gorgeous yarn all 40% off. I managed to keep myself under control, just barely. I met more knitters and had a blast. Conversations always start with, “What are you working on?” and go on to, “And then he took off his clothes…” Knitters are quite passionate, with yarn or without!

Tonight is another knitting meetup at another LYS, Yarnivore. It will be my first one there, but I’m sure a few of the people that I met last Saturday will be at this group too. I’m just hoping for comfy chairs. My tailbone can’t handle another evening of uncomfortable chair pressure; I’m still recovering from last weekend.

This week, I’ve mainly worked on Morrigan while the Quilt and Cable throw is in time-out. I went to pick it up on Sunday evening and discovered that I made a terrible cabling error that was super obvious, so I had to frog it back six rows. SIX! I wanted to cry. That’s well over 2000 stitches. I finally got that done yesterday afternoon, so it’s ready for me to pick it up again in a few days.

My main problem with these two patterns is that I’m working both of them on 7 needles. Although my Chiaogoo interchangeables came with three small cables, I only have one pair of each needle size. Fortunately, my needle set came with end stoppers so it’s not that hard to switch them out. The other problem is that I only have a 14″, 22″, and 30″ cable. The Quilt and Cable throw is 5.5 feet long, which barely squinches onto my 30″ cable. Back when the set came out, that was the longest available, but after a quick check on Amazon, I found they now carry 37″ and 50″ cables! FIFTY inches! I double checked on eBay and found them for a few bucks cheaper, so I ordered it in both the large and small diameters as well as a second set of end stoppers. Having that extra length will make my life so much easier, especially when working up a large shawl or a side to side scarf. Ever since I got them, I’ve used my interchangeables for everything. I’m so used to the flexibility and the small needle length, it makes my straights seem bulky and uncoordinated.

Last night was a little splurgy after I received an email from KnitPicks about their yarn sale. OMG! Who can resist cashmere for less than $5 a skein? I bought some alpaca, Peruvian Highland, and merino (regular and some superwash), as well as a set of Caspian cable needles. I tried using regular cable needles but they are too small and slick; I tended to drop stitches when the needle slipped out. The Caspian cable needles come in three sizes and they have ridges to keep stitches from dropping. Genius!

Of course, now the question is what to work on next? I’ve been furiously adding patterns to my Rav queue, and I ordered this year’s Knit Scene Accessories issue because it features a beautiful hat and cowl set by SusannaIC, the Eva Marie. I also plan to pick up Dee O’Keefe’s Lace Triangle Collection ebook. All four of the shawls in the collection are breathtaking and I can’t wait to get started on them. Meanwhile, work continues on Morrigan. I’ve finished the third repeat, so technically I only have one more repeat to go, but I want mine a bit longer so I may add another one or two repeats. We’ll see how much yarn I have at the time.

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My son graciously modeled for me. You can see my life lines in white. I may be insane but I’m not crazy! I’m not using stitch markers, but I always use life lines.

Have a great weekend and remember, “Knit through everything!”

Knitting Insecurities, WWKIP, and Ravelry

Saturday, June 14 was World Wide Knit In Public day and I was so excited to finally be qualified to go. As a crocheter, I’ve seen posts about WWKIP for years and desperately wished I could join in, but I didn’t knit. This year, not only was I out there knitting, I helped to teach someone else to knit. That’s what I love about this craft; while there are classes galore, knitters are thrilled to pass along their knowledge and skills for free. I took along my Cambria throw, but I was so busy admiring other people’s projects, feeling up all the yarn, and chatting up a storm with others who speak my language, I only managed to get about 30 stitches done.

I was really nervous about going, since I’ve only hung out at my LYS (local yarn store) twice since I learned how to knit back in October, so I didn’t know anyone. When I arrived at the mall food court for the event, there were already about twenty people sitting around several tables casually pushed together. Everyone smiled, moved over to make room, and welcomed me into their conversations. Knitters are the NICEST people ever! I had worried that I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to, but these women (and boy and man) enfolded me like I was an old friend. It helps that every knitter has instant conversation starters: “Oooh! What are you working on? I love that yarn, where did you get it? Did you make the one you’re wearing?”

I held out for three hours on the worst chair ever, and in that time, I added seven people to my Ravelry friends, met a published designer, several spinners, and a lovely woman who dyes the most beautiful yarn. Stacie from Must Stash Shop handed me a business card with a gorgeous mini-skein of sock yarn attached. What a great marketing tool, because now I’m lusting after her work.

I’ve tried to join other groups (non-crafty ones) before but I was often made to feel like an outsider. While people might say hello, they certainly weren’t friendly. So many groups want to feel exclusive and they do it by excluding people. Not knitters! Much like the sheep that give us our fiber, they are a fold and are happy to bring someone new into it. I was invited to attend other knitting meetups around town, including one that night and the local Stitch ‘N Bitch group. After going home for a much needed nap, I venture back out for more fiber goodness. The night group had several people that attended WWKIP, so I felt right at home. Although I was in another awful chair, knitting and great conversation took my mind off the pain. I stayed for another couple of hours before my back started screaming at me, and even then, I still found it difficult to pull myself away.

Being surrounded by knitters with way more experience, I felt somewhat inadequate. I only brought one project but everyone else had two to four works in progress that they switched between. What?? Startitis is not only embraced but encouraged? Yay! So yesterday, I cast on for the Morrigan shawl (published by Hedgehog Fibers) with some super soft cashmere/mink blend. Morrigan is a super easy lace that looks impressively intricate. The most difficult stitch is a centered double decrease (which is not hard at all) so it’s perfect to take along for knit nights. I got pretty far in the nine hours that I worked on it (off and on, of course) and I’m quite tickled.

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As promised, here is a pic of the Cambria throw now that I’ve finished the second set of wraps. While it is more rounded than an EKG, I think the up and down wave pattern is fitting for a cardiologist. I love patterns that are deceptively impressive but truly simple.

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There was lots of Ravelry talk on Saturday, and as I mentioned, I added several friends throughout the day. I learned how to find my Ravelry number, too; I am Raveler #1102279. Considering there are now more than FOUR MILLION Ravelers, I’m old hat! One person in our group is in the 20,000s, so she’s definitely a veteran. Rose-Kim Knits has an excellent tutorial on how to find your number. Check it out and post your number in the comments!

 

 

Better Swatch Out

I am always one who jumps right into something with little to no planning. It usually works out, but sometimes, it costs me a lot of time that I would have saved if I’d done it right from the beginning.

I’m currently working on a cabled throw for my son’s cardiologist. I bought 24 skeins of navy blue Ice Alara yarn, but it’s a dk weight, while the pattern, the Cambria Quilt and Cable Throw calls for chunky yarn on size 8 needles. Since I’m a tight knitter, I thought using an 8 would still work, so I cast on and started knitting without swatching first. After over 40 (very long) rows, I decided it was too loose and I didn’t like the drape. I tried size 6 needles, but that made it too small and I wasn’t sure I’d have enough yarn to get the size I want. Finally, I settled on a size 7.

Again, I cast on and started knitting. After five rows, I decided it was too short. I frogged it and cast on a third time, only to find I had it too long. I gave up and worked up a swatch so I could find out how many stitches to the inch, then calculated how many stitches I needed for the number of inches I wanted. With the fourth cast on, I finally have it right.

My first try (on the 8 needles) seemed to go so much faster. Of course, I had 72 less stitches per row, and the stitches were bigger. The 7 needles are giving me a good tight stitch, but with 340 stitches per row and 5.5 rows to the inch, I’ve only got about four inches after almost an entire week.

Sigh. I will take this as a life lesson to swatch, swatch, swatch…at least when I need a somewhat exact size. I console myself with the knowledge that this project is something to be very proud of and will make an amazing thank you gift, so it was worth all the effort to get it right.

I finally finished a shawl for my friend. I was supposed to have it done by the end of last October, but that project also suffered from start-over-itis. In the end, the shawl she received looked amazing. I used the Kuura pattern and Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in the Tidal colorway. It is so soft and airy, and looks impressively hard even though it was ridiculously easy. Unforgettable is self-striping, which made it even more impressive.

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Kuura is a  great pattern for beginner lace work. It’s easy to memorize the rows and I only needed one stitch marker before the center stitch.

I have recently stocked up on some gorgeous alpaca and alpaca/silk yarns, and I am super excited about the project after this throw is finished: the Bella Botanica shawl. I plan on ordering some glass beads from Lima Beads, but I think I’ll skip the nupps. I don’t think they add much to the overall design and will detract from the beadwork.

I’ll post pics of the throw as soon as I finish the first cable set. Right now, I’m still on the first set of 16 rows of ribbing, with four rows left before I start the cables. My worst problem is that knitting relaxes me to the point that I keep falling asleep!!