Sunday, October 29, 2006

A snob is born - OR - Why acrylic is like poison on fire

Sometimes it takes more than one mistake to learn a lesson. Take for instance, the way I feel about wasabi. I love sushi, but I hate wasabi. Every now and then I need to taste it to remind myself - oh yeah! It tastes like poison on fire! And so I found with my knitting; acrylic yarn has finally gone the way of wasabi. Allow me to explain:

When I first began knitting again as an adult, I was eager to pick up cheap fibre whenever possible. On my many thrift store excursions, I managed to find plenty of perfectly good, knit-able yarn. (Once I even found angora!) I understood from the beginning that natural fibres were superior to synthetic, but that didn't stop me from buying blends. So, when I found four matching skeins of bulky black 75% acrylic 25% wool for $2.99, I thought - why not? It contains some wool, how bad can it be? Oh, silly, naive knitter - how had I not known? First, let me refer you to a previous post of mine, ("Look Ma! I'm Done") when I said:

3) Cheaping out isn't worth it in the long run. Natural fibres are worth every penny.

Hmmm. This point got lost somewhere between that post, and last evening when I dragged out the chunky black yarn and decided to finally put it to use. My looming Clapotis deadline, combined with the boredom of project monogamy drove me to dig through stash. Like any (in)sane knitter faced with a deadline, I did the only logical thing: I started a new project. I wanted to knit a simple black shrug and I didn't care what people thought! Acrylic couldn't be all that bad! I've got tones of commercially manufactured sweaters made from synthetics. I liked those. Besides, I can't always spend $100 on luxury yarn every time I want to knit a sweater! Nay-sayers be damned! I was going to use my acrylic!

Three gauge swatches later I held the first few rows of knitting in disgust. No matter how much I tried to convince myself it was just snobbery, I was totally dissatisfied with the stitches on my needles. The yarn was squeaky. It was oddly shiny. It didn't slide across my needles properly. What was I thinking? I began to have visions of wearing the finished sweater in front of other knitters. I realized I would actually be embarrassed to have knit a whole garment out of something so unpleasant. And that's the clincher really. The chunky black acrylic yarn that I had kept in my stash for so long was unpleasant to work with. Why would I want to spend hours knitting with something that didn't make me happy?

So, (finally) a lesson learned:

3) Cheaping out isn't worth it in the long run. Natural fibres are worth every penny.

Too bad. I guess this just means I'll have to go yarn shopping...tee-hee!


Thursday, October 26, 2006

knickers in a twist

I'm sorry to inform you that the purple licorice thong is no longer with us. A moment of silence please...

Waah! My first attempt at knitting 302 calories appeared to be going well:

(sorry for the crap photos)

And then this happened:

Breakage! So, I thought maybe I should try to knit a little looser. I loosened, the licorice knitted, all was well. I was nearing the end and decided to take a step back to admire my handi-work. Wha? The licorice had broken again - in two places! I didn't think it was easily disguisable, so (with kid gloves) I cast on a third time. Third time's a charm, n'est pas?

Success! I sweat like I was diffusing a bomb while adding the finishing touches. The licorice is finicky to say the least. After the thong was...well, thong-ed, I carefully placed the licorice on some waxed paper, brushed it lightly with oil (I read you should spray it with cooking oil to help prevent it from drying out), and packed it in a box. Success, right?


24 hours later I checked on it. I found this:

GAAAH! Damn you licorice rope and your stubborn refusal to be knitted! It just disintegrated! On to plan B - I'm making a new, non-knitted, thong out of candy necklaces. I just don't think licorice is my medium (although I do enjoy eating my mistakes!). Thank goodness it's Halloween time - edible-lingerie supplies abound!

As for my 'real' knitting... I already regret giving myself a deadline. What was I thinking? The 3rd is only a week away! I think the clapotis is about 1/2 finished:

but it's going slow. I finally 'get' the pattern now. This means I keep getting too cocky and (inevitably) screwing up. I'll forget to do the drop-stitch part and just keep on knitting. Eventually I'll catch it, but then I have to 'unknit' back a few rows. Un-knitting blows! Sigh. Two steps forward, one step back. Despite my snail like progress, I'm not writing off the deadline. Yet!

I started my second sock (of my first ever pair) last night at S'n'B. I'm certainly learning a lot by hangin' with some more experienced knitters. Megan, owner of Lettuce Knit suggested knitting a couple of rows straight before joining in the round for the cuff of my sock. Genius! Wrangling a bunch of teeny-tiny dpn's is much easier when you've got a little meat n' potatoes to work with, y'know? Then Elizabeth (a ridiculously fast and experienced knitter) helped me choose a stitch pattern to knit a scarf out of my accidental angora purchase:

(Cue choir of angels) It's Fleece artist hand-dyed 'Peter Rabbit' (the picture really doesn't do it justice). Ooops! I didn't mean to buy it! I was just sitting beside the display and it just sort of... happened. Megan told me I could easily knit a scarf out of a single skein and it all went downhill from there. I'm such a sucker for angora! It has that wonderful halo of fuzz surrounding it that just screams 'touch me!' And I don't care what you may say about your newborn - this stuff is definitely softer than a baby's behind! (Baby rabbits excepted, of course)

Miss Muffy

Monday, October 23, 2006

Good enought to eat (or knit?)

Just when I thought wedding season was over, I got suckered, oops! I mean invited to another bridal shower. But I kid - I don't mind going to these things. Especially considering this one is actually in Toronto! (Don't get me started about the great ontario wedding tour of summer 2006!)

With bridal showers come bridal shower gifts. What a conumdrum! Buy something household related and risk giving the same gift as grandma? Buy something racy and risk looking like a pervert? I think I'm going to do a little of both. So this evening I'm going to work on turning this:

Into this:

Oh you really do have a pattern for every occasion!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fear of the deadline

The clapotis is slowly taking shape:

I even reached the first section of dropped stitches - Wheee!:

What I really need to do is give myself a deadline for this project. (lord knows I can’t get diddly-squat done without a deadline) I’ve got a date in mind, I just don’t want to commit. I should probably just do it. I should probably just tell you the date. I should probably stop writing sentances that don’t tell you the deadline, and write one with the deadline. I should probably stop procrastinating. You wanna know the date? Okay, I’m gonna do it. Ready?

November 3rd 2006.


I did it.

Now I actually have to do it! All three people that read my blog will be horribly let down if I don’t meet their expectations! What am I even doing writing this? I should be knitting! I should stop typing right n

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sock it to me!

Check me out y'all! First sock! In yo' face!

This pic was taken at midnight last night right after I dragged out my trusty stitch n' bitch book to look up how to kitchener stitch the toe. I must be improving as a knitter (it's about time!) because it's my first attempt at a new skill that turned out... just dandy, thank-you! Although, the perfectionist in me is a little bothered by the sock's curious appearance when not on my foot:

It looks like a boomerang! It's all scrawny and looks...malnourished - like an Olsen twin! It fits just fine soI can totally live with it. Who's going to be inspecting my socks when they're not on my feet? Besides, I can totally justify the shape. I didn't really use a pattern to knit the sock - I used the Socks 101 guidelines from Knitty. It turns out - socks are pretty simple! On top of that, if you've got a tape measure and a calculator - bingo! You've got yourself a custom fit sock. So the funny looking sock is a direct result of my funny looking feet. Duh! I can live with that. Some people would kill for spindly ankles!

Miss Muffy

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Honeymoon is over


I finally complete this big 'ole sweater project, and now I don't like it. If you check my last post, I waxed poetic about the virtues of patience and knitting things correctly. Then I told you how my reward was this great sweater I would actually wear.

I lied!

Okay, not exactly, but I'm no longer thrilled with the results. It's too drapey! It bugs me! When I wear it, it looks like this:

Not bad right? That is, unless I move. Then it looks like this:

You might think I'm crazy, but it drives me nuts. It flops all over the place! Life is too short for flacid sweaters! So basically, I only like how it looks when the jacket is 'closed' (The pattern doesn't have buttons or anything, so it doesn't actually close). I've only worn it once and I tugged at it so much trying to keep it in place I started stretching it out of shape altogether. Gaah! So what I need here is 'closure'. I think I'm going to try adding frogs. You know, the kind of closures on chinese jackets? Buttons wouldn't work (The sides aren't supposed to overlap) and a zipper would be horribly, horribly wrong. Another option would be a tie of some sort. I don't know - I'll try both ways and keep you posted.

After mourning my sweater, I knit up a quick scarf out of the Cascade I picked up on sale last week:

I used a simple broken-rib type stitch pattern:

It's a little short as I only had one skein, but it gets the job done. Just in time too! Brrr! My bike riding days are numbered!

What's up with my other projects? My Clapotisis but a few inches long. I already have to rip back a few rows because I forgot to increase a stitch somewhere. Ooops! I don't quite understand the pattern yet, so it requires a lot of concentration (ie: not to be knit while watching tv). I'm going to put some more time into it as soon as I complete at least one sock. After all, it IS Socktoberfest! I've turned the heel (badly) last night and am anxious to see how my very first sock is going to turn out. I'm thinking of the first one as 'practice sock' and the next one as 'for keeps' sock. I figure it will take the pair to finally understand this sock-making business.

Now to find the next sweater project...


Miss Muffy

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Look Ma! I'm Done!

This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning-

Did Winston Churchill knit? The end of the beginning indeed! I finished the never-ending sweater! (I suppose I need to give it a new name now.) Being my first 'real deal' sweater, I'm completely chuffed. It fits me, there are no glaring mistakes, and I finished it with a skein of yarn to spare! Woo-hoo! It is blocking as we speak. The picture is total crap, but there will be more to come:

If I were to knit it again, the only thing I would change is the yarn. I LOVE the yarn (Misti Alpaca), but I didn't realize when I made the substitution that it would drape the way it does. If I had done my research I would have found out that Alpaca is much heavier than wool and well... more drapey. Great for some projects, but not for something that is supposed to keep it's shape. Oh well, live and learn.

On the subject of learning, I started keeping a knitting journal at the same time that I started this blog. Why have I never done this before? It makes so much sense! It's nice to learn from your mistakes, but if you forget what they are (and you know I will) you are DOOMED TO REPEAT THEM! Here are a few a learned the hard way:

1) Using larger needles is not always the best solution to get correct guage. The proof? My accidentally 'fishnet' shrug. It's currently sitting in my frog pile.

2) Read the pattern all the way through before you begin knitting. Keeping the fishnet shrug company: a partially completed cable-knit sweater the length of a dress, and (yet another) shrug - this one only large enough to fit a 6 year old child.

3) Cheaping out isn't worth it in the long run. Natural fibres are worth every penny.

4) Mohair is pretty. Working with it is not. After royally screwing up a pair of mohair gloves I decided to frog them. They decided they would rather tangle up into a big ball of fuzz.

5) What's the hurry? Take your damn time! My just completed sweater taught me that one. Even though I completed it relatively quickly, it was only because I have been knitting like a DEMON lately. I knit a guage swatch, I took the time to block the pieces before assembling them, and when it was time to assemble? I taught myself mattress stitch and 'fake' grafting instead of just winging it like I normally would. My reward? A sweater I will actually wear.



Friday, October 06, 2006

The Clap....otis

The weather is turning chilly and I am in desperate need of a Clapotis! I assume you all know what I'm talking about when I say 'Clapotis', because it seems like everyone and their dog has knit one since the pattern came out. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, check the link - it's a great scarf/wrap/shawl sort of thing). In order to scratch my Clapotis itch (umm, not a great choice of words), I needed me some;


Yay! I took a tip to Lettuce Knit and spent far too long fondling all the yarn. After much humming and hawing, I reached a decision and bought 5 skeins of Rowan Tapestry 70% wool/ 30% soy blend in a nice muted violet/brown/beige colourway. I'm going to attempt to knit a slightly smaller version to make it a little more affordable (does anyone really buy Lorna's Laces for this? Beautiful, but Ouch!). The pattern looks daunting, but that's never stopped me before! I'll be sure to pester everyone and anyone with questions (even if they don't knit!). Oh, and never being one to enter a store and ONLY buy what I came in for, I picked up some discounted Cascade Pastaza in a really neat olive and rust colour mix. A girl can never have too many scarves, right?

As for other projects:

Never ending sweater: Soooo close to ending - I intend to be wearing it to next Wednesday's S'n'B

First socks: totally on pause (I need that Clapotis first!)

See ya, mah knittahs!