29 March 2011

Day Two: Feel My Failure

Today's blog assignment is a difficult one for me:

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet?

I've looked back at my last year's worth of FOs, and I'm afraid all I see is a lack of willingness to check gauge resulting in crazily-sized objects. I feel so sheepish about this, because I know my knitting is better than this. It's my own impatience that prevents me from planning ahead. I measure while I knit, but I often ignore warning signs.

In the last year, I've made FOUR knitted baby items whose gauge is suspect. I lovingly finished the items with buttons, stitching, modifications. BUT, my simple lack of checking ahead and thinking about the finished object means the items may be too small/too big/too short/too wide/the wrong weight for the season for which they're intended... I always thought knitting baby items was the easiest thing to do because it's almost like instant knitting gratification when it comes to the finished object. But, I forget that not all babies are created equal; some are shaped differently, and just because I make it a couple sizes too big doesn't mean it will fit baby in the future.

Wool Cloth-Diaper Cover

Exhibit A: A wool diaper cover made for a friend. I followed the pattern, but had no idea how the button placement/amount of buttons factored in until after I was done. I have since moved them closer together, but there are only two. What if it does not fit friend's baby? What if it is not adjustable enough to be used? Woe.

Now I have a pile of baby items for friends' recent deliveries that I'm quite afraid to send them! And all the while that the FOs sit on my counter gathering dust, my friends' babies are aging! Who knows how big they are now, since I've held onto these! Maybe I should frog and start over! O.O

Peapod set

Exhibit B: I'm particularly sensitive about this FO, bc the pattern was a real bear. It took me 4 tries to knit. It was supposed to be the perfect gift for my friend's gender-unannounced fetus. Then I didn't finish it before the birth. And also it's roughly the size of a 1-year-old. And damned if there aren't mistakes, but I CONQUERED THIS PATTERN. Yeah, that doesn't make it any prettier. D-:

This blog post and confession has me feeling very repentant! My friends' babies deserve better, and I should not cheapen my work by being too impatient to measure against the pattern. Or, I should just knit baby blankets and stop knitting baby cardigans that are the wrong size.

Now what to do with all these ragamuffin baby items...


Newborn sweater

Exhibit C: O hai! I am a teeny-tiny baby sweater! You knit me in December, but now it's almost April. Not only am I likely too small for your intended recipient, but it's not really sweater weather south of the Mason-Dixon! Tee-hee! Don't mind me, just mocking you!

Exhibit D: Hey, remember teeny-tiny baby sweater? I'm a sweater you made a gauge mistake on and I'm HUGE! Maybe the width of a 3-year-old. Except a lot shorter! Good luck finding anyone but a toddler midget who can wear me!

So, to frog or not to frog? That is the question. One thing is for sure: I have learned from my mistakes. No babies will suffer from ugly-fitting knits in the future, if it is within my power. ^_^ Maybe I should have titled this blog "Skill -1 DOWN." This is definitely a lesson I learned the hard way, but it's a lesson learned nonetheless.

28 March 2011

Day One: A Tale of Two Ishbels

I'm trying to rekindle my feeble little knitting blog by taking part sort of unofficially in the 2nd annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week--mostly bc they give me topics to blog about. And because in the last year, I've amassed a good deal of yarn and knitting knowledge! I should be qualifying it in some way, even if I'm still far behind my accomplished knitter friends! ^_^

Today's assignment: Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

Well, I'd been yearning to make an Ishbel (Ysolda Teague) ever since I first saw the pattern, but I'd never knit a lace shawl before. I did some serious amassing of fingering-weight yarns so that I'd have the perfect one for this wrap. I wanted something variegated that would still show the lace (so nothing with too much halo).

Schaefer HeatherI chose a beautiful multi-colored yarn, Schaefer Heather, a mix of superwash wool, silk, and nylon. The yarn was rust, dark silver blue, and deep wine colored. This is a gorgeous yarn, as you can see. I was totally excited about my beautiful shawl!

Frogged Ishbel
But, when I started knitting, something happened. The gorgeous colors just weren't flowing into the pattern the way I'd envisioned them. Knit together, it was more a cacophany; they almost clashed to my eyes. (Apologies for poor pic quality from my webcam!) I told myself to hold out; I was only into the stockinette portion of the Ishbel. So, I knit on into one full lace repeat, but I just couldn't stand to see the beautiful Heather this way; she deserved better. I knew it wasn't the fault of the pattern, as I'd seen others' beautiful FOs. It was simply a case of yarn vs. pattern incompatibility.

This was a new concept for me. I'd never contemplated that beautiful, quality yarn + paid-for, quality pattern could = disaster. But it turns out, you have to sort of let your yarns and patterns mingle until you find the ones that mesh well.

Fresh From the Cauldron Bavarian Sock
My second try was some Bavarian Sock from my favourite hand-dyer, Squibstitcher at Fresh From the Cauldron. The colors of FE, PI--coral, forest and olive greens, gold, and cream--contain as much or more contrast than the Heather yarn seemed to; however, I was surprised to find that the FFTC yarn wasn't as distracting as the Heather had been. All I know is the yarn took to the pattern immediately; I couldn't stop knitting it. Maybe old Iron Pi has a better balance of colors than Heather did. Or maybe there was a difference in the dyeing technique/pouring method that created a different look. Or maybe it was simply love at first sight between these two. All I know is, I love my FFTC Ishbel with its crazy colors.

Finished Ishbel

And I can't wait to see what the Heather will be...

28 January 2010

A Christmas miracle

So, I want to update this blog more in 2010, since my camera's been repaired for the moment, and since I have been knitting a bit more lately. I can't believe I went a whole year without posting anything.

Besides things for my soon-to-arrive nephew, I made a quick hat for my mother-in-law, for our upcoming family ski trip (March 2010). Her favorite color is chartreuse, so I appropriated some Lion Wool in the Dill Pickle colorway.

I knew I wanted to make a warm, cabled hat, but I didn't want anything that would take too much time. I decided to try
Tuesday's Miracle (PDF), which was designed by Shanny, a Knit Knack friend, new mama, and author of the blog Welcome to the Knitosphere. Shanny actually created the hat one weekend during a bedside vigil for her grandmother, Nonny, who made a miraculous comeback and was home by Tuesday - hence the name.

The wide-set cables were really fun to knit, and the instructions are very clear. I also love how the top of the hat looks like a flower!

I'd definitely recommend this project for a knitter who wants to try cables but is comfortable knitting hats in the round.

My photography skills are still kind of elementary level, though my husband got me a little studio with lights for Christmas. So far I have used it wrong most of the time, but I'm learning! ^_^

29 December 2008

I just completed a scarf swap with my Knit Knack girls. The swaps are always a joyful event; it's really fun to get to know people by seeing what everyone makes and how they interpret each other's questionnaire answers. We have unique relationships, as we know many intimate details about each other, but lack some of the more basic friend-making factoids such as what they do for a living, how old they are, or where they live. But Houssaye said, "Tell me whom you love, and I will tell you who you are." So, I guess we know enough by knowing about the common loves we share.

I knit a scarf for Morganic, a feisty redhead from Sedona, AZ. I can tell she and I have different philosophies on most everything, but I hoped that I could make something she would like. The scarf's inspiration came from a statement in her profile: "I hate knitting cables but love the way they look." That made it clear to me I should knit her a cabled scarf so that she didn't have to knit one herself. Her favorite color is purple, and her fall coat is red. So, I picked a deep royal purple in a cozy alpaca blend.

I picked alpaca because Sedona gets pretty chilly, especially in the evenings. Berroco's Ultra Alpaca is not only a favorite yarn of mine, it's soft and fuzzy and nestles into itself well and stays springy. So it was the definite choice!

After browsing seemingly every cabled scarf pattern on Rav, I picked the Beaumonde Cable Scarf by SmarieK. I like ambitious patterns, and why should it matter if I've only ever done practice cables before? I am always throwing myself curveballs like this, knitterally speaking. Two types of cables are alternated, with a drop-stitch pattern that repeats about every 11 rows. There also is a seed stitch border on each side, which I love, as it keeps the edges from curling.

I made a mistake the first 2 repeats and omitted the last two rows, which means the cables are missing a couple twists. But I couldn't bring myself to frog it, so hopefully it blends in. I think it probably does to most eyes.

And sorry these pictures are so crappy. I'm still learning to take photos and the art of Flickr/blog-posting. A graphic designer I am not. But hopefully, I'll improve!

16 November 2008

A vessel for my creative side, craftily speaking...

Handmaid Goods is the name I've picked for my arts & craft side (www.etsy.com/HandmaidGoods soon to be up and running). In a couple years' time I feel I've absorbed enough knitting that I can begin to create projects for sale, or at least gifts, on a regular basis. Hopefully sewing and other more advanced skills will follow soon! My favorite crafting site is Ravelry, where I am a part of my amazingly creative and supportive group of Knit Knack girls. Love them. I felt inspired recently to finally create a blog where I can show some of my projects and talk about their creation, original or copied. ^_^ Welcome.