Monday, July 26, 2010

New Tricks

It's probably a bit late in the year for resolutions, but I have some knitting ones to share. I was taught to knit by my mother and grandmother, who both knit the same way, so I based the way I knit on them - although the way I do it looks a bit cack-handed - more like eating your dinner than knitting, but it does the job... Anyway, its only recently that I've realised there are OTHER ways to knit (ie hold the needles, yarn etc).
It was this realisation, coupled with finding lots of lovely patterns calling for new techniques, which made me appreciate that there was still so much to learn in this craft called knitting! I have already learned how to use DPNs for socks and mittens and just recently used my circular needles to make a summer top (hooray - no seaming!!!). So with that in mind, here are some of the new tricks I hope to learn (and master - eventually):
* Continental knitting (holding the yarn in the left hand - much faster and useful for stranded colourwork)
* Toe up socks - means you shouldn't run out of yarn without finishing the toe!
* Lace - the lightest weight I have knitted with so far is 4ply/fingering.
* Fair Isle (stranded colourwork which looks just amazing)
* Double-Knitting - which means you either knit two things at once or you can create great two-sided colourful designs without having to carry the colour (like in fair-isle) or wrap the colours around (like in intarsia) - by swapping the colours from front to back.
I'll be back with updates on my progress on these and my neverending task of trying to reduce the stash (or even try to keep it static!!). I have projects lined up for each of them but before I start, I've got some christmas gifts to get going on (yes I know its early, but my knitting speed is not very fast!).
Ho hum - all good fun!

Sanity check: Too early to say - need coffee...
Stash +/-: +1 fun fur for beards (you'll see...)
Projects: +1 = Twilight Mittens for neice's birthday (still WIP)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Out with the old!

And I don't mean throwing out the old either... I'm finding (and remembering) knitting projects that I made a few years ago and adding them to Ravelry. Some of the things I have added recently were made about 15 years ago. I have even surprised myself at how many things I made back then, when I wasn't as "in" to knitting as I am now.
I have had a kind of love/hate relationship with a lot of my knitted items - loving the idea of knitting things for myself and hating the results (quite often).. as a result - a handful or so of garments that I'd devoted a fair bit of time to often ended up at the charity shop or (horror!!) thrown away in disgust!! In most cases, I wouldn't even try to reclaim the yarn - I just wanted it out of my sight.
WHY - I hear you ask - well, mostly because I would use the wrong yarn or my tension/gauge was off (I have only ever made ONE swatch in my whole life) or the design I had chosen just didn't look any good (on me, anyway - the models in the pictures always looked fine enough). This kind of frustrating output did not sit well with the hoped-for knitting-karma effect.
So I started to buy patterns and the recommended yarn to match... this gave better results and as a consequence, some of those items are still in my wardrobe now!
I also had better results when I started with a yarn I loved and had an idea of how to use it in a design of my own, although this has only been in the last few years as I have felt more proficient in my knitting techniques (and attending a workshop with designer Debbie Abrahams on how to design your own knits helped too!!).
It was around the time of that workshop that I came up with the design for this hot water bottle cover. I wanted to make something for my mum and using a more "classy" yarn and I didn't want it to look too "homemade"... hopefully I acheived this.
Sadly, this is something that all knitters face when making things for other people - the prospect of the recipient's thinly disguised contempt at having received something so, so, "HOMEMADE"!! Years ago, I secretly made a pact with myself that I would NEVER make anything for anyone else that looked "like my grandma made it" - sorry grandma (god bless your soul) - but her yarn budget and choice of patterns meant that ill-fitting acrylic sweaters were the order of the day and they would pill/bobble like mad and change shape with every wash....
Thankfully, there is a far greater selection of yarn available now for every pocket and every situation. This means I can make pretty gloves for my neice in a soft (but machine-washable) inexpensive, variegated wool yarn. I certainly couldn't afford a lot of the "very posh" yarns (for that read: exotic animal/vegetable/mineral, hand-painted etc., etc... - and lets face it - there would be far too much hand-washing of finished articles involved too!!) but now that I have access to thousands of cross-referenced, fully-searchable by any attribute, free (or relatively inexpensive) patterns for a multitude of types of project, I know that if I DO "treat" myself to a single skein of that scrumptious shade in that fancy yarn, I will always be able to find something lovely to turn it into - hurrah for Ravelry!!!

Sanity check: Kids in bed by 7pm + DH out for the evening = 9/10
Stash +/- : +9 balls (only 3 of which have intended use already - erk!)
Projects: +3 (2 old ones and one original design, still WIP)