Two-handed Knitting?

I’m amazed. Floored. Thrilled. In another installment of my love affair with Jacqueline Fee’s The Sweater Workshop (2nd Edition, in case you’re wondering), I’ve discovered that as an English knitter (also known as “throwing” and “right-hand knitting”) I have been forever baffled by Continental (also known as “left-hand knitting”). BUT, while I’m no expert and a faithful thrower, thanks to this wonderful book I successfully knitted ONE round (56 stitches in this case) using BOTH HANDS. This wonderful and amazing technique has the knitter hold one color in the right hand (with which you knit in the traditional throwing method) and hold the 2nd color in the left hand (with which you knit Continental style). Lo! Not only do I feel masterful and fabulous knitting in two colors in both hands at the same friggin’ time (ON DPNs!!!!!), but it’s SO FAST. I’m going to continue practicing this method of knitting and see if maybe, just maybe I can master the knit stitch Continental style without twisting my stitches, which is what I generally do. Somehow, though, the spirit of J. Fee kept my stitches untwisted and knitting two colors super-fast. I’m officially sold! Can’t recommend this book enough, even if you HATE knitting sweaters or just don’t want to knit them, ever. The techniques, including the one described here, will make you a better knitter.

Aside: I’ve just realized that I’ve been misspelling Ms. Fee’s first name “JaCqueline”, if my new knitting heroine were to actually read my blog and notice this please forgive me! I’m going back and correcting now.

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Filed under DPNs / Double Pointed Needles, Knitting, The Sweater Workshop, Two-color Knitting

Knitting for the Sake of Knitting

I’ve come to a new realization that I love to knit. (Shocking, I know.) But seriously, I love the act of knitting, even more than a finished product, FO, work of knitting art. Don’t get me wrong, I like a finished object, I hope one day to actually finish a sweater worth wearing…but, I suffer from cast-on-aholism … a newly discovered disorder wherein the afflicted can’t help but cast on, and cast on, and cast on, and cast on resulting in a never ending stream of UFOs (UnFinished Objects) … many of mine are just swatches. I get great pleasure from a simple swatch. This is something that I used to run from, avoid and may be directly related to my lack of wearable sweater in the FO form. Anyway… I’m reading, much like one reads a novel, The Sweater Workshop by Jaqueline Fee … I bought this amazing wonder of knitting instruction fabulousness a year or so ago, forgot about it, then repurchased it (brilliant) and started reading … I’m an addict, a convert and a fan. I’m learning so much, and the Sweater Sampler is a little project that I’ll actually finish (because it’s small) and while I’m making a valiant effort to actually perfect the techniques, there’s no pressure to actually wear it (I’m not that far gone …yet.) if it’s ugly (which it sort of is) or there are ladders at the transitions between the dps (Ms. Fee doesn’t call for dps, she calls for circs, but for the strangest reason I couldn’t get the blasted 68 stitches (or close multiple of eight) to go around the 16″ circs and after MANY tries I decided that my dpn work needed a LOT of practice. So, I’d serve two purposes and practice both the workshop techniques as well as my dpn work … all great as far as I’m concerned.

Another suggestion in The Sweater Workshop was how to swatch, something that I thought I knew -but, as we established I hated and avoided it so that’s a questionable assumption. Ms. Fee’s suggestion was that swatching on three different needle sizes is enough to determine the right needle size and resulting gauge. What?!? Three sizes? I MAYBE swatched with the recommended yarn or project needle size and sort of measured then usually ripped out the swatch as I have/had a palpable aversion to “wasting” yarn. But! Hold on! What if swatching was a mini-project in and of itself? I get to knit (and w/ a full time job, a part time online yarn store, house, 15 month old, husband, two dogs, a cat, etc., etc., etc. …) knitting requires staying up way past my bed time to stitch away. This realization has totally changed my attitude toward swatching. Like flipping a light switch I ran to cast on with Berroco Bonsai in a color I may not actually wear but wanted desperately to knit in gauging out the Bonsai sweater from Interweave Knits recently in Sandy’s Knitting Daily. I’ve also got a theory that Bamboo (if not Bonsai specifically) will make GREAT housewares such as placemats or other table linens. Looking at the swatch as something that I might actually get to finish, and which will certainly make me a better knitter, hopefully resulting in more wearable FOs makes them FUN! I swear, fun.

So, I sit here blogging hoping someone will someday read and be inspired or at least mildly interested, instead of knitting. But, I will stitch away here shortly, as soon as everything else around the house is done :-). Until next time…

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Am I a loser?

Let me just start by saying that I don’t really care if I am. I accepted being “different” a LOOOONNNNNGGGG time ago, I’ve made peace with it. But, a valid question just the same when faced with the reality that getting my Ravelry invite is the highlight of my day … week for sure (but, it’s only Monday), okay – let’s face it, it’s the highlight of my friggin’ year. And, I’ve had a good year. I feel like I’ve just been invited into the most exclusive club EVER. And, well, if that makes me a loser ….I don’t want to be a winner.

No more time for this right now, must go play on Ravelry!

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13,609..no it’s 11,565…no, it’s 5,230(!!)

That’s it folks, 5,230 – THAT’S how many people are in front of me in the Ravelry line. I was late to the Ravelry party, so I am a demoralizing #29,267 in line…I was thinking when starting this post that I would never get invited. I’m desperate to be a member, mainly because I’m a junky for the next big thing. But, also because I’ve been seeking a way to get my knitting projects organized and have failed miserably. The idea of an organized stash mystifies me. I find yarn stuck all over the house and think …”what was I going to do with that?” Which is strange to be because every time I purchase yarn it’s with absolute necessity and utter and complete conviction that I’m going to make “project X” with “yarn y”.

But, hope spring eternal and the the list of lucky knitters in front of me dwindles daily…when I started this post there were 13,609 with 40% of the list invited. THEN!!! Only four days later, 48% had been invited and “only” 11,565 were, in front of me. Now, (ignore how long it takes me to write a friggin’ blog post, okay?) there are MERELY 5,230 and 59% have been invited.

KUDOS TO THOSE WHO RUN RAVELRY! Seriously, with all the buzz out there and how time intensive it is to get a web site up and running -not to mention one w/ as much cool functionality as Ravelry has,  they are moving really fast.

And, because I am a geek, at this pace I’ve figured that it should take approximately another week to ten days before I get my LONG awaited invitation to join. (I’m nearly holding by breath.)

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In defense of impulsive buying …

Can you say KnitPicks new Harmony Options needles? I got the nickle-plated “Options” last year for Christmas, and when the woods came out I had to have them. I really wanted the sock needle sets as well, but I’m really not into socks just yet (can’t figure out how to turn a heel then pick back up into the gusset for the LIFE OF ME!!!!), but I assume one day I’ll figure it out and will then buy myself a snazzy set up the Harmony sock needle sets. For now, I’m struggling with a miniature sock from The HandPainted Sheep’s sample yarn … I’m trying out her yarns and thinking of carrying them in my little store (if anyone has any thoughts on that, shoot me a comment or email). So far, I like the yarn…the sock mystifies me, however.

I’m simply dying to get the needles, they are on their way to me…slowly, as I went the free shipping route and am not regretting that decision…but, patience is a virtue.

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OTN: Berroco Milo Sweater


Berroco Milo Sweater #1

On the needles, the Milo men’s sweater from Berroco. (It’s free, click here to get the pattern) made in Berroco Pure Merino Heather (available at www.yarnlove.com) which is a super soft, 100% merino that I’ve fallen in love with and want to make tons of different things from it, including a little sweater for my son, but I’ve yet to find the right pattern. But, am considering the EZ BSJ, but I’d like him to wear it this Fall, and that may not be possible with the BSJ…anyway…

I love the way the colors / pattern are turning out. It’s all in knit/purl, and the way you interchange the colors has actually taught me quite a bit about how the different knit and purl stitches interact with each other from line to line to make the texture in the pattern. So, while I love the way it looks, it’s also educational. Here, here.

That’s the swatch, I’ve actually got most of the back of the sweater done now, but need to frog a bit since the pattern got off when I was trying to watch a movie and knit this. I need to get to it, though as it’s for my dad for Christmas …and it’s not the only thing on the needles.

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My journey to the masters…the TKGA Masters that is…

Hello world! Finally, here I am, writing a blog. [I know you were anxiously awaiting this moment. Ha!] Or, at least, I’m going to try. I’ve made two other attempts in vain. But, I feel very committed …so here goes.

This, my very first blog post is about what else…knitting. In January 2007, I signed up for the TKGA’s (The Knitting Guild Association) “Master’s Program for Advanced Knitters”, and with one swatch off the needles, I feel confident that I can do this. However, it’s like a 16 swatch course …so, I’ll keep you posted. Anyway, after knitting the first three swatches, I put my course aside and focused on starting a new job (besides mothering my infant son, knitting, starting an online yarn store www.yarnlove.com, and just life in general) and subsequently lost the swatches. Now, 8 months later, I’m starting over and going to try try try to get this done before I pass the one year mark, and have to work under a new version of the course materials.

Sidebar: The TKGA doesn’t require that you finish any of the Master’s levels in a set amount of time, but if it’s been a year then you have to submit your work under the newer, more current course guidelines which may/may not have changed since you started. For full details on the program, which as of my writing this costs $90 and can be purchased through the TKGA shopping cart. For full details, please see the TKGA at http://www.tkga.com/mastersprogram.shtm.

As an avid reader and searcher of knitting information online, and because I learn best when I “take notes” I’m going to document what I learn as I proceed with the Masters Program. Lesson #1, which increase method is best for hiding your increases in ribbing…More to come later, stay tuned.

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Filed under Knitting, TKGA Masters Program