Procrastaknit

Everything else can wait until I finish this row…

Fresh off the needles – November Socks

Here are the socks that I took with me during the drive down to Atlanta, GA and back.

  • Pattern: Varsity
  • Designer:  Melissa Morgan-Oakes
  • Source:  2-at-a-time Socks (Storey Publishing, LLC, December 2007)
  • Yarn: Ambiente by Schoppel-Wolle
  • Needles: #3
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I’m so proud of my Kitchener Stitch!

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Practice does make perfect, my heels have improved considerably since the first pair I did back in January 2012

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I love how a self stripping yarn does all the work of making a plain vanilla pattern look so great!

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Trick for Casting On & Off Loosely

If you’re a tight knitter and your cast on and cast off scrunches up the project you’ve just started or finished, try going a few needle sizes up from that of your gauge.   Generally speaking I go up two needle sizes to ensure that the first and last rows are more loosely knit.

I especially use this trick while casting off and I thought I’d share it with you because it I just finished the last row of a scarf with a size 10 needle but need to find my size 11 or 13 before casting off.

I hope this helps! Happy Knitting!

 

 

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Thanksgiving Yarn Crawl: Baltimore, MD to Atlanta, GA

Sales Associate, politely: “Are you a knitter or crochetter?” 

Me, with a straight face: “I’m Bi.”

Laughter fills the shop.

That’s how my Thanksgiving Yarn Crawl started out, with lots of laughter and jokes about being Bi-stitchual at The Knitting Boutique in Baltimore, MD.  This is a great little shop just outside of the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.  I mean that quite literally, it had me thinking that the next time I have a layover at BWI, I am getting on a cab to take me to this yarn store, its just 10 minutes away!  My husband also liked this shop; he could get a cup of tea, there was plenty of seating and even a computer that he could spend some time on.  It was very non-knitter friendly, which is important since often times non-knitters are often the financiers  of our hobby.

I loved the layout and set up of this shop: there was a private conference room in the back for classes, complimentary coffee and tea, a spacious and clean bathroom, a comfy couch in front of a fire place, the aforementioned desktop for knitters to log onto Ravelry, and an organized display of yarny goodness.   The inventory of this shop was so nice as were the sales associates who patiently answered my questions.  I had heard of Shibui Yarns, but this was my first in-person encounter with the brand and it was as soft as was described.  Ditto with the Collinette brand of yarns.  I wish I had brought some home with me, but this was my first stop and I couldn’t afford to blow out my entire Yarn Crawl budget.  I ended up with a skein of Cascade Sock Yarn that was a similar color to the Collinette Jitterbug yarn that I kept gravitating towards.  As per my husband’s rule I already have a pattern picked out for this yarn, now that I got my sock knitting groove back, I want to make the Marion by Michaela Moores (Knitscene, Accessories 2012).

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving here in the US and I just got back home after a long day of cooking, eating, football, and festivities!  The best tip that I can offer after such a busy day is to get yourself a Knit Kit, it is the best thing a knitter can have while travelling.   This is the Swiss Army Knife for knitters, it has everything you need for your project on the go.  I always carry mine with me b/c  it is so easy to grab it from one project bag and transfer it to another.    It has all the little things you need in one container: measuring tape, stitch markers, row counter, crochet hook, scissors, and point protectors.   I compare it to your wallet when changing purses, because it has all of your essentials: ID, cash, cards, photos, etc.  My husband gave me mine for Xmas last year and I don’t know how I ever managed without it, worrying about gathering and carrying all those little things whenever I grabbed a different project bag.  Honestly, I want another one… maybe even more!  It would be great if I could keep on permanently in the car, another one by the couch, one in my suitcase, one in my purse, one in my craft room, one at work, everywhere!

We did about 8 out of the 23 hours of driving already and in case you’re wondering I decided to cast on some socks for this weekend trip.  I was inspired by other bloggers who I have encountered are avid sock knitters (something that I still hope to become one day).  Plus, I wanted to give one final push towards my New Year’s Knitting Resolution of knitting a sock a month.   So farI have only made 5 pairs (if you count the ones for the dog, which I do) and I wanted to be able to say that I accomplished at least half of my goal.

The pattern I am using is Varsity by Melissa Morgan-Oates (2-at-a-time Socks, 2007) which is a good vanilla pattern to show off the self-striping yarn I chose, Schoppel-Wolle’s Ambiente.    I am knitting them up simultaneously, but not in the method described in the book.   Instead I am using two 9″ circulars and alternating between the two socks, which is working out so far.  Funny thing is the way the two different skeins are knitting up – it would be hard to identify them as being of the same colorway if you didn’t have the label with you.  One sock is coming out mostly gray & purple, while the other is has more brown & purple.  I guess that’s the problem with ordering yarn online, I got the skeins that someone else picked out.  Sure they are the same colorway and dye lot, but that was just someone quickly filling an order and moving on to the next one, if I had done it myself I would’ve carefully chosen two skeins with similar colors on the outside.   Oh well, I still like the unique look, check them out:

Not only are socks great portable projects to work in the car, but you can take them pretty much anywhere!  Here is a photo that shows you just how obsessed I am with knitting:

Please tell me I am not alone in this…. what are some unlikely circumstances where you have pulled out your needles to work on your projects?  I can’t be the only one that has worked a few rows while waiting for my hair to dry, right?

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Knitting on the Go

Well, it’s Thanksgiving week here in the US and so its time for some Holiday trips, and we have a lot of them this year.  My husband and I will be travelling up to Maryland tomorrow, back down to Virginia after the big meal, so that on Friday we can leave bright and early to Georgia for a friend’s wedding, and then we’ll head home.  According to Google Maps, that adds up to a total of 23 hours of driving (not including Holiday traffic).  UGH!

Luckily for me, my hubby doesn’t mind driving as long as I can give him two or three hours break.  We worked well together on our cross country drive, so this trip should be a piece of cake.  This also means that I have a lot of time to knit, knit, knit!  The problem I am having is picking out which WIP to take with me.

My current WIPs that I have going right now include:

  1. His sweater – which I can’t work on b/c I want to surprise him with it
  2. A crochet jacket for me – all that’s left are the sleeves so it’s a bit bulky for the passenger seat
  3. A beaded lace shawl – but I cannot find where I put the rest of the beads
  4. A colorwork scarf – which is my normal car project for short trips, but would get tedious after hour 2
  5. the Swatches for the Master Knitting Program – which requires research and writing, not just needles and yarn

I don’t think any of those will do for the entire duration of the drive; and for knitters not having a project to work on during a trip can be more devastating than forgetting to pack underwear.  The sweater, the jacket and the scarf are all repetitive stitches that have gotten a bit boring.  I need something to break up the monotony of those patterns, I need to procrastaknit on something else.   I’m off to figure out what that might be and pack the rest of the things that I need for the trip… like underwear.

 

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Going from Flat to Round

Once upon a time, people believed that knitted garments could only be flat like the Earth.  Now a days we know that the Earth is round and our knitting can be too.

I hate seaming my work, finishing the projects by attaching the front to the back and the sleeves to the body.   According to my Ravelry Projects page, the last time I made a project that required that much seaming was a baby sweater in 2008.  Whenever I come across a sweater pattern that is knitted flat I have two options:

  1. Forget about it and move onto the next pattern
  2. Knit it in the round instead

Today’s tip is a simple formula on how to make a sweater from a flat construction to a circular construction:

Cast On = (the # of  stitches for the front + the # of stitches to the back) – 4

Why subtract four stitches?  Because the first and last stitch of the front piece and the back piece usually disappear when you seam them together.  If you keep those four stitches when converting a flat pattern to a circular construction you will be adding width to the garment.

The hoodie that I am making for my husband is supposed to be knitted flat, I opted to make it in the round instead.  So inserting my numbers to the formula above I get:

C = (SF + SB) – 4

C = (83 + 83) – 4

C =  166 -4

C = 162

So I casted on 162 stitches and I was off knitting stockinette in the round.  There is a lot more to this tip than what I am telling you here, but that is the knowledge I have to share with you.   There is also a way in which to take a round pattern and knit it flat if that is what you prefer (but I haven’t tried it).  For further reading on the subject of going from round knitting to flat knitting or vice-versa check out this document from the popular needles & yarns company, Knit Picks: http://www.knitpicks.com/kpimages/NING/tutorial%20PDFs/flatvsround.pdf 

I hope this helps! Happy Knitting!

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Sweater Progress

Do you think the self-stripping yarn is creating a bad look?

Here is the progress I have made on my husband’s sweater so far.  It is knitting up so quickly, I forgot about the advantage of working with bulky yarn.  But I am not too happy with how it’s looking.  Can you spot the problem so far?

I just joined the second ball of yarn and I think it is pretty noticeable where the first one ended and new one begins.     I had expected the first ball to knit up slightly thicker stripes, instead it looks more like a pooling effect.  The second ball of yarn creates a stripe that is a full three rounds.

I wasn’t sure if I was obsessing over this, so I showed it to my husband, which sucks because I wanted to show him only the finished product.  For a non-knitter he spotted it relatively quickly, but he says he likes it and will be happy as long as I knit him a sweater.

I had given thought to frogging back the 1 – 2 inches of the second ball and starting over.   My idea was to join a third skein and alternate rounds to hopefully create a look that’s closer to the first ball of yarn.  But I know that if I rip it back I will loose interest in the project and just start procrastaknitting on something else.   Besides the gentle pooling, followed by the thin stripes, and then the thicker stripes (once I separate for the under arms) might create a cool look.  If I still don’t like how it  turns out, I think I can cover the front by creating pockets with left over yarn.  I will keep you guys posted on the progress of this sweater.

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Technique – the Basic Knit Stitch

This technique is known as English Style knitting; you hold the yarn on your right hand and wrap it around your needle.  It is commonly used in the United States.  In Europe they use what is known as Continental Knitting; you hold your yarn on your left hand and pick up the stitch.   But don’t worry about that now, I can show you Continental Knitting another time.  No matter what anyone tells you there is no right or wrong way of holding your needles or your yarn, the outcome is always the same gorgeous stitch.

Ok here is the basic Knit Stitch broken down for you.  This is where every knitter starts from and this is what will lead you to gorgeous sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, blankets and other beautiful knitted works of art.

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the image:

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Knitting Circle Etiquette

Knitting Circles are fun!  It is a great way to meet new people and broaden your social circle.   They can be at a LYS, or a cafe, or someone’s house, or at a park, anywhere really.  We knitters aren’t afraid to knit in public and the best circles are the most welcoming ones.  But even in the friendliest Circles there are some unspoken rules of etiquette that one should abide by.   Here are some that could be considered universal:

  1. Never, ever, ever, ever, EVER point out another knitter’s mistake in their finished project.  Even if they ask you, “Can you tell where I messed up?”  This is the same as asking your partner, “Does this outfit make me look fat?”  Even if it’s a lie, the answer is always, “No, it looks great!”  No exceptions.
  2. If you see or hear someone nearby counting their stitches (especially when casting-on) or rows, do not start shouting out random numbers like you’re a quarterback starting a play.  It’s not even a little bit funny, it’s just down right annoying.
  3. One of the knitter’s near you has some scrumptious yarn which you simply must pick up, touch, and caress.  Try your best to fight that urge and ask if you can hold the skein(s) or touch the work.  You don’t want to impede the knitter from wrapping their next stitch or tug on your friend’s work while s/he is in the middle of a row.   If you take the time to ask, they might hand over the whole project so you can feel how wonderful it is.
  4. If your circle takes place at a LYS, be courteous to the small business owner.  Do not offer to sell your own products (i.e. left over skeins of yarn and stitch markers) during the circle.  Do not offer to teach a skill if there is a class that is being offered on the same technique (i.e. continental knitting).  Do not offer to copy and/or share your patterns.  Essentially, do not offer to do anything that would take away from your LYS’s profit, they are our haven and we must respect their space or they will fade away in bad economies.
  5. If you are eating or drinking, be aware of other people’s work.  Make sure your drink has a lid and that you have napkins within reach just in case there is a devastating spill.  It is one thing to stain your own project, it could create a great divide in your knitting circle if you happened to accidentally tip your mocha on someone else’s work.
  6. Always share your notions.  Too often someone forgets a measuring tape or a pair of scissors or a crochet hook or what have you.  This is not the time to be greedy, because the next time it could be you.

I am no “Miss Manners” and every circle has their own way of doing things, so please consider this list as guidelines instead.   Just remember that the most important thing is to be courteous to those around you.

What faux pas have you committed in your circle?  What’s the rudest thing that’s been done to you during a circle?

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Trick on Avoiding a Twist (and Shouting)

In October I made a dog sweater within a week and now my husband is joking that he is jealous that the dog got a hand knitted sweater before him! Jokes aside, the man has a point. Considering how he puts up with my Yarn Addiction he deserves a sweater.

And in truth I had every intention of making him a sweater long ago. I purchased six skeins of James C. Brett Marble Chunky to make a man’s sweater during the first LA County Yarn Crawl of 2012.  In my excitement to be Yarn Crawling I completely overlooked the fact that the yarn I bought for this project is 100% Acrylic! The Yarn Snob within me is outraged! How could I have been so careless in the yarn selection for the man I love so much? But he was there too, I would never buy a yarn for such a large project without the recipient choosing the color.  After 8 years of being with me, he has become a Yarn Snob by proxy.  He knows the warmth of Merino, the softness of Alpaca, the fuzziness of Mohair, the luxury of Cashmere, and the horror of Acrylic! How could he have allowed me to buy a sweater’s worth of the stuff!?  Unfortunately there is nothing we can do at this point but work with what I’ve got. This is the only sweater’s worth of bulky weight yarn in my stash and at the moment we cannot afford to buy him something else.

So after a short guilt trip, I have found gauge for the sweater (4 stitches per inch with a size 10 needle) and hope to have this done in time for Xmas.  The pattern I am using is called the Hooded Sweatshirt by Bruce Weinstein (Knits Men Want, STC Craft, 2010).  It is meant to be knit flat, but since I hate seaming and this is a self striping yarn, I chose to do this in the round.    Because this is a self striping yarn, I will have thin stripes that match up on the front and back of the hoody until it comes time to separate for the arms.  Then I will be forced to knit the two pieces separately causing my stripes to get wider since I will be working over less stitches.

Today’s Trick = How to Join Your work in the Round without Twisting your Stitches

In honor of last night being Halloween,  I will be showing you a Trick on how to join your work in the round without creating a twist.  This trick works with double pointed needles as well as circular needles.

Once you have casted on your stitches lay down your circular needles on a flat surface:

 Take a careful look at your stitches and make sure the bottom of the loop is consistent in its position, they should all be facing in towards the circle.   If the bottom of the stitches are not facing the same direction, carefully rotate them so they are all facing the inside of the cables.

Once the stitches line up carefully pick up your cable needles and join in the round.   Knit a few rounds then lay your work out flat again to make sure that you have successfully avoided a twist in your circular project.  Here is the start of my husband’s sweater:

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, twisting our projects happens to all of us which can be especially frustrating if you are working with hundreds of stitches.   If you keep having difficulties when joining in the round, I have another Trick for you to try instead:

  1. Start knitting your project flat for a few rows – easy to do as long as you’re not dealing with a complex lace pattern
  2. Once you have at least an inch then join in the round – follow the steps in the Trick above if you want to be extra careful
  3. Later you can just use your tail to stitch those first few rows together – you were going to weave your tail in regardless might as well put it to work

I hope this helps! Happy Knitting!

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