Procrastaknit

Everything else can wait until I finish this row…

Yarn Crawl in São Paulo, Brazil

It is not my intention to make all my blog posts about Yarn Crawls, but I have made two unique ones just last month and I want to share it while it is still fresh in my mind.

After the Cross Country Yarn Crawl, my husband and I took a trip down to Brazil before starting work and settling into our new home.   The last time we were in Brazil I had never experienced a good yarn crawl and after the one cross country I wanted to go international, so I started trying to find LYS in Brazil.   This proved to be a bit challenging; I checked my Brazilian groups on Ravelry, Knitmap, even did web searches in Portuguese on the Brazilian search engines and didn’t come up with much.  I did encounter a blog in Portuguese where these two friends listed different on-line sources for buying yarn in Brazil and abroad.  Most of their listings proved to be major craft shops that are similar to Michael’s, but it was there that I found Empório das Lãs, a LYS in São Paulo, and Fazenda Caixa Dágua, a farm that produces wool in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

I have never been to Rio Grande do Sul and wasn’t able to make any plans to go to the farm, but I was really excited to have found a Brazilian wool manufacturer of such high quality.   They use only natural dyes and make only skeins of worsted weight or thicker.  I don’t believe that they have any superwash yarn, but that is easy to overlook when you consider at the beautiful colors they produce.

We were in São Paulo on September 6 and had just a few free hours in the afternoon to kill and so we went to Empório das Lãs while my parents went to a ceramics art exhibit.   Some taxis in São Paulo now have GPS, but not many,  luckily for us I had printed out directions on how to get to this little shop.   Take LA traffic and put it in a confined city grid like New York and you get Sao Paulo.   It is a hard city to navigate in; you can spend hours in your car, so make sure you have extra time and cash to pay for the cab.  It took us carefully reading street signs to help the driver but we made it to the shop.

Like many boutiques in São Paulo, the door was locked for security reasons, but once we rang the doorbell we were let into a very small room with lots of fabulous yarn.  True, many of them are commonly found here in the USA (i.e. Debbie Bliss and Noro), but they also had some harder to find German brands (i.e. Austermann and Schoeller) and of course the Brazilian Wool that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on.  Besides the Caixa d’agua they also had Ecolã in stock, another  yarn manufacturer in Rio Grande do Sul.   I was ecstatic to discover a new yarn brand and could hardly contain myself (which is why I forgot to take photos of this LYS), the girls at the shop did not know what to make of me and my husband reigned me in as best he could.

The next day we had lunch with our extended family and my cousin’s wife suggested that I check out another LYS in São Paulo called Novelaria.  This shop is spectacular!  The owner comes to the major yarn shows here in the US, so she is familiar with how to best display her yarn.  There was a long wall filled with beautiful yarns (most of which were from Uruguay), a small selection of books, and a handful of accessories to cater to a knitter’s needs, but the majority of the space was focused on making the customer comfortable to sit around and knit, knit, knit.   There were large tables to spread out your work and wind your yarn,  small dining tables on the Knit Cafe portion where you could have some coffee and snacks, as well as sofas and arm chairs for a fun knitting circle.  Oh, how I would’ve loved to have spent the afternoon there!

At this shop I was with my mother and she got just as excited as I did – she could envision the beautiful pieces that I could make for her!  She chose two eclectic and unique yarns that I had never heard of, a brand called Milana Hilados.   When I added this to my stash on Ravelry it shows it as being spun by a local shop in Argentina, I don’t know how it ended up in Novelaria’s sale bin, but I am excited to knit up some cowls for my mom.  For myself, I bought three skeins of Abuelita Worsted Merino Yarn with the intention of making the #39 Shell Crochet Bag that is featured in the first ever issue of Vogue Knitting Crochet 2012.  Abuelita is a brand from Uruguay that is a little easier to find here in the USA, but I have only seen it online.  This was my first time petting this yarn and it incredibly soft, I couldn’t pass it up.

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Now that I know about these two shops I cannot wait until my next trip to São Paulo!

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Tip on Checking Your Gauge

Today’s 4T Tip is on checking gauge.  I cannot lecture much on the importance of gauge because that is one of the biggest things that I still procrastaknit on.  Too many times I have chosen to skip checking gauge and jumped right on ahead into the project.   This is a hat pattern that I made back in 2009; the one I gifted to my friend was made with  size 6 needles, the one I made for myself was made with size 5 needles because I was using my size 6 on a different project at the time.

Bad Gauge = Bad Fit

Perfect Gauge = Perfect Fit

While I wish I could say this was a rookie mistake, it’s not.  I still make such careless mistakes with my gauge because I am usually so eager to cast on a new project, I decide to throw caution to the wind and just cast-on with a needle size larger since I know I tend to be a tight knitter.   Currently I am working on a double-knit hat that I did not bother to properly check gauge, so now it is large enough to fit over my head as a cowl!  Consequently I will be making that project into a purse and will post photos once I finish.   New knitters learn from my mistakes, expert knitters go ahead and laugh.

Today’s Tip =  Making It Easier To Check Your Gauge

Most patterns give you a gauge in stockinette pattern, I recommend that you add about 6 or 8 extra stitches to the given gauge of the pattern so that you can create a garter stitch border (3 or 4 stitches on either side) which will help your swatch lay flat as you count your stockinette stitches.  Keeping with the border idea do a few rows in garter stitch before starting the stockinette portion AND before casting off your swatch.

Creating a garter stitch border helps you see where you changed needle sizes.

If you find that you have too many stitches per inch, switch to a larger size needles to lessen the number of stitches per inch.  If you have too few stitches per inch, go down a needle size to add more stitches per inch.  This is Finding Your Gauge 101, my tip to help you in the process is  to knit another 4 rows of of garter before you switch your needle size.so that you create a separation of two different sizes.   Repeat this process as many times as needed until you have the right number of stitches per inch.

Keep changing needles until you have found the right size.

I have come across knitters that didn’t create a divider before changing needle sizes, so they were weren’t sure where the stitches with the smaller needles ended and the ones with the larger needle began.  Creating a border helps to differentiate the two without having to cast-on a new swatch.  If your gauge is given in garter stitch, just use a different stitch (i.e. seed stitch) for the border.

I hope this helps! Happy Knitting!

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Cross Country Yarn Crawl

At the end of August 2012, my husband and I had to relocate from Southern California back to the East Coast.   Moving across town is a hassle for anybody, a cross country move is that intensified by ten, dwarfed only by international moves.   We chose to drive cross country together, because it was more affordable than shipping a second car, and flying two adults and a dog.    It took us 5 days to drive a total of 2,645 miles thru 9 different states and which each state border that we crossed I was determined to visit a LYS!   I am so thankful that my husband was willing to incorporate a cross country yarn crawl with our cross country move.  It gave me something to look forward to as the hours dragged out in the car, because a LYS per state keeps a knitter happy during any roadtrip!

Here is the itinerary that I came up with, that coincided with the route we were taking during our move

I wish I could say that we successfully visited every single one of those local yarn shops, regrettably that wasn’t the case.   I had taken into account the time it would take for us to reach each of the shops in each state so that we wouldn’t have to drive any more that we were already planning.    The biggest flaw in my plan that I did not take into consideration was the change in time as we crossed each time zone!  Even though we left California before noon and it took us less than 6 hours to get to Flagstaff, Arizona, once we crossed that state line we left the Pacific Time Zone and entered into Mountain Time Zone, by then Purl in the Pines had been closed for almost an hour.

Another thing that jeopardized my cross country yarn crawl were summer hours.  It is common for a lot of LYS to have limited hours during the summer, specifically on Sundays.   Sadly, I did not realize that until the third and longest driving day of the trip;  The Gourmet Yarn in Oklahoma City, OK was closed on Sundays and The Yarn Mart in Little Rock, AR was open for only 4 hours.  That was the hardest day of the entire trip, 12 hours in the car and not a single LYS to break the monotony of the countryside.

But let me tell you of the stores that I did make it to, because there are some beautiful shops throughout this nation and The Redlands Yarn Company was a great place to start the cross country yarn crawl.  This is the LYS that was closest to my husband’s job in SoCal, he had to spend a few hours there returning keys, saying goodbye to colleagues, and dealing with HR, so naturally this was designated my first crawl stop.

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The First Ever Tips, Tricks, and Technique Thursday!

OK, so today marks the first Tips, Tricks and Technique Thursday (a.k.a. 4T).    I do want to contribute to the knitting and crochet community, and though  my blog posts may not be as innovative as Judy’s Magic Cast-on technique, I hope that the little bits and pieces that I share here will help beginner and expert crafters alike.

While I am still getting acquainted with writing this blog, I will be using photos to demonstrate all of the Tips, Tricks and Techniques.  I do intend to create instructional videos in the future to facilitate your learning experience, but right now I don’t have the best video equipment for to accomplish that task, so I hope you will bear with me during my growing pains.

Now, since I am just starting out I will start with the a basic technique: the Knitted Cast-On.  If this is the first time you have ever picked up a pair of knitting needles, this is where you want to start since this technique imitates the knit stitch.  Once you get used to this cast-on you will have an easy time learning the knit stitch.

Also, if this is the first time you are attempting to knit, look at the yarn label and consider this when choosing your materials:

  1. Choose a medium weight yarn, this is also known as worsted weight or #4 weight.   Look for this symbol: 
  2. Choose a light and solid color yarn that is smooth (avoid bumpy, fuzzy, loopy, thick & thin, and other textured  yarns), this will make it easier for you to see your stitches.
  3. Choose a yarn that is 100% wool, or if you’re in a tight budget acrylic is OK.  Avoid slippery fibers like bamboo and silk. Avoid fuzzy fibers like mohair and angora.
  4. My recommendation for yarn is Cascade 220 (shown in photos below), which comes in a multitude of colors and can be found at local yarn stores.  A cheaper option that is easily found at major craft stores is Lion Brand.
  5. The yarn label should indicate which size needle works best with it, generally speaking sizes 8-10 are compatible with worsted weight yarns
  6. Start with a pair of straight needles, instead of circular needles.  This will allow you to be more consistent with your stitches
  7. Either metal or wood needles will work.  Metal needles will allow you to slide your stitches more easily is your are pulling your yarn too tightly while wood needles will help them stay put so you don’t have to worry about loosing your stitches.  It is all a matter of personal preference.
  8. My recommendation for needles would be Knit Picks Harmony for wood or Susan Bates for metal (shown in photos below)

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I’ve procrastaknitted long enough, this is the beginning!

Here I am! Wow, I can’t believe I am finally doing this, I guess I have procrastaknitted long enough and it was time I got this done.

So what does it mean to Procrastaknit and how did this term come about?

pro·cras·ta·knit

[proh-kras-tuh-nit]  verb, pro·cras·ti·knit·ted, pro·cras·ta·knit·ing.

  1. To defer in action by working on a knitted project; delay in non-fiber related activities by working on a knitted projected instead : Mom spent the afternoon procrastaknitting, that’s why dinner isn’t ready yet. 
  2. To avoid frustration by working on a different project instead of  finishing another : Not understanding why she didn’t have the right number of stitches, she chose to procrastaknit with on a different project instead.
  3. To skip making a swatch and start the project right away without checking gauge : Because she procrastaknitted on her gauge, her double-knitted hat is now big enough to be a cowl! 

pro·cras·ta·knit·ter

[proh-kras-tuh-nit-ter] noun, pro·cras·ti·knit·ter

  1. a fiber artist who prioratizes knitting above all else
  2. a person who chooses to perfect his/her craft instead of dealing with mundane things
Origin: 
Winter 2011 – 2012;  One day my husband called me from work and asked what I was doing, I answered that I had procrastinated on completing a chore and instead he heard that I had procrastaknitted.  We laughed at the misunderstanding and the term stuck with us.
At the time I actually lucked out and was working at a Local Yarn Shop (LYS), something that helped me realize how passionate I really am about this craft.   For one thing I never thought I’d go back into retail, but working at this LYS didn’t feel like work – it felt wonderful! I enjoyed petting the new inventory as I priced and put away the new skeins of yummy yarn.    I didn’t loose my patience teaching new knitters the how or why of a new technique; I was actually proud of  seeing them learn it.  It was fun being in an atmosphere of other like-minded individuals.
It was amazing that I was earning a pay check for doing something that I enjoyed.   I embraced that experience and my husband saw the effect that it had on me.   We realized that knitting was no longer just a hobby for me, it has become a lifestyle and I want to thrive in it.  We spent hours and hours and hours just talking about how I could pursue it, what I’d like to do with it, and how far can I really take it.
  • I want to continue working in a fiber related field
  • I want to become a certified Master Knitter
  • I want to advance my crochet skills
  • I want to learn how to spin
  • I want to the many different ways of felting
  • I want to try dying my own yarn
  • I want to design my own patterns
  • I want to own a LYS
This blog is the start of that journey.
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