Sunday, April 29, 2012

3KCBWDAY7 - Crafting Balance

Are you a knitter or a crocheter, or are you a bit of both? If you are monogamous in your yarn-based crafting, is it because you do not enjoy the other craft or have you simply never given yourself the push to learn it? Is it because the items that you best enjoy crafting are more suited to the needles or the hook? Do you plan on ever trying to take up and fully learn the other craft? If you are equally comfortable knitting as you are crocheting, how do you balance both crafts?

Firstly, all thanks goes to the incomparable Eskimimi for organizing this fantastic intarwebz event again!!  I have loved reading the blogs of so many talented crafters, many I would never have found otherwise.  I've even come out of my usual lurking-shyly mode and posted some comments along the way.  Good times were had by all!  Next, thank you to all the awesome bloggers who stopped by, especially those who have left comments for me this week -- soooo exciting to get feedback, it's awesome.  Lastly, but never leastly: hiya to my parents; thank you for reading everything and for other things as well.  :)

... ...

Okay.  So.  I'm not going to write anything more for this entry.  Crochet patterns read like a foreign language to me and I've already spent my allotted blogging time on weighing yarn and knitting blanket squares. 
Also, I 'm going to hang out with my family right now. 
How's that for balance -- SKADOOSH.   XD

To read all about crafting balance from those taking part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 3KCBWDAY7.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

3KCBWDAY6 - Improving Your Skillset

How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how's your intarsia? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills which you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you'd like to have tried them by.

Last year around now-ish, I answered the Skill + 1UP prompt with a bevy of photos featuring my favorite themes from the preceding year. guess what?  Again!  Again!

My Year in Yarn: a Journey in Photos
Chapter Two: Experiments with Lace

When we left off in March 2011...
Two-color stranded colorwork, knit in the round
Starstuff by Amy van de Laar

July 2011
Knitting with stuffing (toy-adjacent)
Miittens [Rav] by not an artist

Initial lace shawl attempt
Matter and Void by Julia Mueller

September-October 2011
Baby steps into lace
Victorian Lace Baby Shrug by Melanie Lok
Lacy Little Shrug [Rav] by Eileen Casey

Estonian-influenced lace shawlette with nupps!
Swallowtail Shawl [Rav] by Evelyn A. Clark

Lace baby blanket
Leafy Baby Blanket by Leyla Alieva

Improvised Halloween costume
the stuff of nightmares - I Jokerified my baby!

November 2011
honorable mention points: my first crocheted edging
Cozy [Rav] by Alison Williams

adult-sized lace cardigan, completed in a month
Oblique [Rav] by Veronik Avery
Mr. Pitt's Socks (aka Dad Socks) [Rav] by Kaitlyn Wong

December 2011
Lace shawlette attempt 2 (Electric Boogaloo)
Spring Thaw Shawl by Cheri McEwen

Neckwear (cotton lace cowls, garter-stitch shallow shawl)
Canaletto Cowl [Rav] by Megan Goodacre
A Noble Cowl by Emily Kausalik
Pimpelliese [Rav] by Christine Ebers

January-February 2012
Two-color stranded cotton-blend colorwork, improvised, knit flat

Seamless hat with variable sizing, knit in the round
Regina [Rav] by Carina Spencer

March 2012
Lace shawl trifecta!
Girl's Best Friend by rosegil
EZ 100th Anniversary Hearts Half-Circle by Mwaa Knit
Ashton Shawlette by Dee O'Keefe

Current project: April 2012
Adult-sized cardigan with non-traditional construction
Spoke [Rav] by Lori Versaci

To read all about other learning experiences from those taking part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 3KCBWDAY6.

Friday, April 27, 2012

3KCBWDAY5 - Something A Bit Different

Ta Douleur by Camille

There's more from Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 3KCBWDAY5!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

3KCBWDAY4 - A Knitter For All Seasons?

As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?

What, you want me to actually keep track of my knitting mojo?  Yeah, right.  Sure, no problem!

Here's another cool thing about being a librarian
(and feel free to take notes because I expound on this frequently...
if I was a superhero, being pedantic would be my power):
Librarians don't know everything.  They don't need to know everything. One only needs to have a good idea of where to begin research.  To the resources!

So, where do we start when looking for personal knitting behaviors at various times of the year? Anyone?
It's the answer to all knitting questions...


Let's look at the numbers, shall we? [Rav link to my projects gallery]

Hmmm.  Three years worth of data and all I got was this lousy line graph?  I've charted the number of projects on the needles per month (a whopping 7 projects in October 2011 alone) ...lo and behold, nothing makes sense -- unless one is intimately aware of the goings-on in my life.

The breakdown:
  • two understandable lulls during summer months (including the birth of my daughter) BUT a major lull in late 2009?  A: I was gadding about, thither and yon, with very little planning.  You'd think I'd be smart enough to bring knitting with me, but no!
  • three super duper large peaks?  A: knitting for my kid (Feb 2010), knitting tiny things for other people's kids (Oct 2011), birthdays for all! (Jan 2012)
  • the jaggedy nature of the line shows that, per month, I either work on a couple large projects or on several small projects in succession.

As far as fiber goes: almost always washable, all the time, as I have recently discovered that real wool makes my eyes feel like they've been doused in napalm (sad trombone).

Yeah yeah, I know, cool story, bro.  I guess I'm the kinda girl who brings a line graph to a gun fight.

To read all about crafting and seasons from others taking part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 3KCBWDAY4.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3KCBWDAY3 - Your Knitting Hero

Blog about someone in the fibre crafts who truly inspires you.

One of the awesome things about being a librarian is that people know I like books, so I get books and bookstore gift cards for holidays and birthdays - AWESOME!

So I was looking through Amazon, wielding a gift card from a remarkably generous someone  ...and there it was, calling me from the computer screen: "Look!  A book with words and funny stuff and also knitting is there, too!"  I am speaking of Knitting Rules, one of the many books by one Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.
Also pictured: a bowl of chocolate.  Because why not.

I have other books of hers now -- mostly her essay collections -- but I keep coming back to this slim volume for its variety of uses.  From the very first page, I was hooked (ugh, tangent, sorry: that is a horrible crochet pun that was totally unintended, especially since a crochet implement in my hands is best used for provisional cast-ons and picking up dropped stitches.  But I am very fond of some amazing crochet artisans, so there's that.  Please don't hate me!).  Techniques and patterns and materials discussions and shortcuts and formulas, they're all in there, but mostly there's funny.  And occasional wisdom:
A scarf that has turned out too big is not a failure.  It's a shawl.  p169

Yes.  Common sense.  Because it's hard enough turning string into fabric without bringing all these expectations of perfection into it!

I read through more than twice, and then the back cover bio blurb caught my eye:
Wait, what?  The Yarn Harlot?  Wait, there are knitting blogs?!

Cut to: a whole week of my life gone, reading every single post.
Yeah, I'm that person. 
Seriously, you guys, if you haven't already, read her stuff!

Later, when I caught myself posting daily knitting statuses to Facebook, it gave me pause; I have amazing friends who are very tolerant of my idiosyncrasies, but given time I was sure they would eventually tire of my hobby.  And my husband, while wonderful, is what is known in common parlance as a "non-knitter"; he was blessed with deep stores of patience and absolutely zero interest in anything craft-related.

It was time.  I had to go niche, concentrate and collect all these burbling thoughts somewhere, creating a knitting brain stash that interested parties could enjoy.  Or not, you know, whatever.  Nothing says big knitting trouble like an unfiltered one-way brain broadcast to the internet world, amirite?

This blog: if I'm its mother, SPM is its grandmother.

To read all about other knitting and crochet heroes from those taking part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 3KCBWDAY3.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3KCBWDAY2 - Photography Challenge!

Building Becky's Blanket, Bit by Bit

There are 8 more squares finished, but they're busy blocking.  :)

ETA: To see other photography fun times from those taking part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 3KCBWDAY2.

Monday, April 23, 2012

3KCBWDAY1 - Colour Lovers

Colour is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects - do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over colour.

There was a time when I purchased yarn based on color alone.  Fiber, texture, ease of care, weight even... the importance of all of these paled in comparison to the vibrancy of the rainbow wall standing before me at the craft store.  My early acquisitions (purchased and used one at a time, thereby predating "the stash") tended toward the colors I usually wear: dark purples, deep blues, ruby reds... zero pastels and a surprising amount of variegation.

My first purchase: I bought a single skein of Lion Brand Homespun in Corinthian to make myself a wide garter-stitch scarf to use as a hood...
image from Lion Brand
aaaand now I can't find it.  It's here somewhere.  Anyway, this was before I knew that yarn comes in different weights, and that sometimes it takes more than one skein of something to get a finished object, and that yarn weights had corresponding needle sizes that had an effect on the resulting fabric, and that maybe I'd find it useful to have more than one pair of needles... you know, the things I think about now.  (:))  All I knew was that the colors were gorgeous.  I totally lucked into a washable, soft scarf of just the right length and width, knit on the correct needles.

Then I made myself five or six more garter-stitch scarves in Homespun BUT with alternating wide stripes (oooh.  aaah.).  After these first projects were off the needles, since I didn't yet feel up to the herculean task of accomplishing the purl stitch, I decided to stick with what I knew and so immediately dove into twenty-five garter-stitch scarves in Homespun: gift knitting! which is where I've lived ever since.

Now.  Here's the thing about gift knitting.  The whole point is: it's for not-me, soooo my preferences for colors are out the window.  The focus is instead jewel tones for my mom (I know, mom, but you love jewel tones, too, I know, but just go with it), pastels for my friend's new baby, etc.  That also means, of course, that you can't judge me positively or negatively when I show you

and THIS

and THIS
because they weren't bought for me!

...I lied, that last one is totally for me.  That sweater's going to look awesome.  If I ever finish it.

You know what, no, I will not be ashamed!  Color has no moral value and, therefore, cannot be wrong!
image via What Not to Crochet

Yeah, sorry, that's pretty wrong.  My bad.

To read all about other peoples' love of color from those taking part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 3KCBWDAY1, or click here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hip to be Square

No shawls for now, but I have started something new!

It's the beginnings of Pathways Blanket [Rav link], a free pattern designed by Frankie Brown, and the squares are so much quicker to knit than the ends are to weave in.  Four squares take one evening to knit and double that amount of time to fix up... each square is four inches squared and uses four grams of each color in worsted weight yarn...  maybe this blanket should be a gift for Beyonce and Jay Z's daughter.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Knitwear at the Movies: 50/50

Am I a bad person if, when I saw the trailer for this movie, sitting in a darkened theatre, I thought to myself, Ooh, cancer, head-shaving scene... this is going to have a lot of hats?  (Answer: yes, yes I am.)

Three times for this movie: once just watching, once with commentary while knitting, and once for screenshots while knitting.  I really connected with the character of Adam (it doesn't hurt that he's played by super amazing awesome gorgeous Joseph Gordon-Levitt), plus I felt progressively less evil with each viewing.

I was wrong about the hats...
Just two?  -sigh-  I guess it's a realism thing.
Hat #1: wide-band striped beanie; Hat #2: wide-ribbed watch cap.  Sooo simple!  Sooo free!
1) Turn A Square [Rav link] by Jared Flood
2) Lorne's Hat [Rav link] by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

The Blanket in Katherine's Office
Great big granny square!
he is so cute, I can't stand it
I wonder if Katherine is representing any particular school colors, or if some family member made this for her.  Fun fact: lots of knitting can be done by machine, but ALL crochet must be done by hand.  Truth.
Kinda Remindy patterns (all crocheted, all free!)
Big Granny Baby Blanket [Rav link] by Bernat Design Studio
Keyport Afghan [Rav link] by Lion Brand Yarn
Striped Rectangle Granny [Rav link] by April Moreland

Mitch's Wife's Cardigan
The shawl collar/buttonband looks to be in garter stitch, knit at the same time rather than picked up later.
Kinda Remindy
free!  108-13 jacket with textured pattern [Rav link] by DROPS design

Katherine's Nighttime Cardi
This shawl collar cardi (Anna Kendrick looks impossibly young) has some sort of waffle-y all-over pattern.
Kinda Remindy patterns
Tuzo [Rav link] by Cirilia Rose; in Berroco Booklet #293
free! + German  Tyrosin [Rav link] by Dagmar Lutz
free!  Michele O Cardigan [Rav link] by Vladimir Teriokhin 

Bonus: Knitting On Film
KOFing during chemo -- looks like a nice bulky blanket

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

FO: Seanmháthair

Full disclosure: this final installment of the Spring Shawl Trifecta was intended to be a St. Patrick's Day present for my grandmother, a woman once crowned Irish Mother of the Year in the Quad City area.     I bought the yarn online in mid-February, but it didn't land in my hot little hands until March 21st, when I promptly had a small freakout.

However, the deadline was only in my head, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it, especially since I was project-monogamous for the nine days it took to knit this bad boy. Without further ado...
Ashton Shawlette [Rav link] by Dee O'Keefe; 
knit with approximately 780yds of

This free pattern is written for a skein of sock yarn, but I had lots and lots of yardage to burn.  My mods were as follows:
  • size US8 needles (not US5)
  • 7x Chart 2 (not 5x)
  • 2x Chart 3 rows 15-24 (not 1x)
  • bind off 403 sts (not 319sts)

This shawl blocked to an extremely ginormous size:
The bottom corners of the photo have been digitally altered to remove the mess on my craft room floor... that's right, this blocked diagonally on a queen size bed.  As you can see, I couldn't get it all the way in frame.  In spite of its size, it's super light, so I hope my teeny tiny grandmother will not drown in all this fabric!

The McNamara colorway is sooo gorgeous; it has some really dark teal green and some olive and some emerald and some forest green and there's nothing cooler than watching the tones shift as it gets knit.  Lovely and wonderful.

The shawl bug has hit hard, so I've joined a Ravelry group committed to knitting "12 shawls in 2012" -- three down, nine to go!