Sunday, April 29, 2012

3KCBWDay7 Crafting Balance

This entry is part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

Let me be honest. I never intended to be a knitter. Mom knit. Grandma knit. I did not need to knit. When a cousin had a baby shower, Mom could make the snowsuit or blanket. I would go to Target and buy her something off her registry.

I don't even know quite how it happened. In my mind, I learned how to knit to humor my mother. I did not expect it to take.

Holy sheep's wool, did it take. It's just as likely for Andrew or I to refer to a bedroom upstairs as the yarn room as it is the guest room. I subscribe to four knitting magazines. My wishlist is filled with yarn from indie dyers and knitting books. I've gotten to know the knitting section of my library very, very well. I say things like, "Oh! Are those jaywalker socks? I love Grumperina's designs!"

I just didn't expect it to happen. I still find myself getting defensive about it. As strong as the online knitting community is, most of the country thinks the way I choose to spend my time is nutty.

Maybe it is, but I love it.

Knitting is a consuming hobby. The amount of reading I do has certainly declined. (Reading was my hobby of choice pre-yarn.) I still feel the call of the garden, but it helps that it's only calling to me seven months of the year.

All of this is to say that I am so besotted with knitting that I have not made time for crochet. I did take a two-hour crochet class in December, but I haven't made myself stop knitting so that I could spend some time learning to crochet. There are just too many awesome things to knit.

I do hope to learn to crochet. There are some gorgeous designs on Ravelry. For instance, this cushion should be mine. But I'm not ready yet.  Right now, I just want to knit.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

3KCBWDay6 Improving Your Skillset

This entry is part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

We can do all things through a few good reference books and the Internet. I've made a mobius cowl. Do I remember the weird caston I used? Nope. But if I make another one, I'll look up the Cat Bodhi video again. If I make enough of them, the technique will stick.

I don't know how to do double knitting, but a friend fell in love with a cowl pattern that uses it, so I'll learn how to do it.

I didn't know how to knit backwards (and would have to look it up again, if I'm honest), but I decided it would be handy when I was in my entrelac scarf phase, so I learned.

This has been my theory about lots of knit techniques. If I see something I want to make, I figure out how to do the things in the pattern.

Except for steeking. Steeking scares me.

Then I saw this:

This is really pretty. I want it to be mine.

So, I'm going to learn to steek.

And that is how I learn new techniques.

Friday, April 27, 2012

3KCBWWC Wildcard Topic: Craft Your Perfect Day

This entry is part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

8:30 a.m. Up and in the shower

9:00 a.m. Eating cereal and bananas, drinking copious amounts of iced coffee

9:30 a.m. Walking the dog. There are no other dogs running free to irritate us. (This clearly marks this as a perfect day that exists only in my head.)

10:00 a.m. On the deck of my grandfather's cabin, knitting socks or stranded mittens. The pattern can be complicated because there's no television to distract me. It's warm enough I have on long sleeves. There's a slight breeze and it's very sunny. It's not too sunny on the deck because of the mature trees.

The sky looks like this:

At noon I eat something delicious for lunch, like a veggie sandwich on nutty oat bread.

In the afternoon, I knit for a little bit, read for a couple hours, and go on a long walk with Andrew and our dog.

Frozen pizza for dinner, followed by cookies and ice cream. Heck, while I'm dreaming, let's make the ice cream homemade vanilla!

More reading and knitting in the evening. We go to bed when it gets dark and sleep until we want to get up.

Mmmmm, perfect!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

3KCBWDay4 Seasonability

This entry is part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

I knit all the time. I knit during my lunch hour. I knit on car rides. I knit in the evening after dinner. I knit in public whenever I think it won't be viewed as rude... and maybe sometimes when it might be perceived as rude.

It's harder to get excited about knitting in summer months. I live in a four-season climate. Whatever the knitting magazines say about cotton short-sleeved sweaters, I do not want to put one on my body in July. It is hot. Yarn is hotter than a cotton t-shirt, period. I don't care if it is fingering-weight cotton with a bunch of yarnovers.

When it begins to get too warm to wear knitwear, I turn to gift knitting. My personality tends toward whatever is the opposite of procrastination. (What is that word? Is there one? Timeliness doesn't seem to be it...) I want things done way ahead of schedule.

So, I knit birthday and Christmas gifts in the summer. I've knit four already am have plans for at least two more. Those people read the blog, so you'll have to wait to see them.

If I'm not knitting gifts during the summer, I'm knitting socks. I belong to Blue Moon Fiber Art's sock club, and it's very easy to get behind on knitting those projects. I like being part of a community of people who are knitting the same thing, and that gets me excited enough that I want to knit socks even when it's 95 degrees and I've lost hope that I will ever need warm knit socks again.

What do you knit in the warm weather?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3KCBWDay3 Knitting Hero

This entry is part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

My Knitting Heroes are the people who made knitting "click" for me.

  1. My mom tried to teach me to knit at least three different times. In 2006, she was going into surgery and I thought knitting might be a good way to keep our minds off of it. She had recently met with me to do Attempt #3, and I still wasn't sure I knew what I was doing.  By the time she went under anesthesia, I understood enough to keep working on a washcloth until she was out of recovery. That first washcloth is so riddled with errors that Mom finally looked at me kindly and said, "Let's just bind off and start another." I still use that washcloth. It is fantastically ugly. There's a couple from Mom's church that still expresses amazement when Mom shows them something I knitted. They were in that waiting room with me, and they saw... well, let's just say they're surprised I'm still knitting. 
  2. I live about an hour from my mom, so I can't run to her whenever I have a problem. During the early months of learning, I relied a lot on Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n' Bitch. I understood her writing style. I am hoping to use her Happy Hooker book to learn crochet. Stitch 'n' Bitch is still the book I recommend when people want to learn how to knit.
  3. My third knitting hero is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I learned to knit socks from her book Knitting Rules!; the made them make sense so I can do them without a pattern. I believe it's because of her writing that I don't feel weird about loving to knit so much. She makes me feel less alone.
What about you?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3KCBWDay2 Photography Challenge

This entry is part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

Project link is here

Monday, April 23, 2012

3KCBWDay1 Colour Lovers

Today marks the beginning of the 3rd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! Today's topic is Colour Lovers. Here is the description:

Colour is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects - do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over colour.

Last night, my mom asked if she could buy some sock yarn for me. She wanted a brightly-colored self-striping yarn. I looked through my stash and realized a couple of things:

  1. I am not unselfish enough to give away any Felici yarn whatsoever, not even to the woman who was snowed in at the hospital during a blizzard after giving birth to me. I justify this by saying that Mom is knitting socks for a volunteer in her classroom, and this volunteer may not understand the glory of knit socks. There's no need to waste awesomeness on the uninformed masses.
  2. If you take out Felici, I don't have much brightly-colored sock yarn at all. It's all blues, green, purples, and grays.
Despite this, I really do love color. My two most recent sweaters were in bright green and red.
Talamh in Blue Moon Fiber Art's BFL Sport in The New Look of Love colorway

Off-Rib Cardigan in Alpaca with a Twist's Mojito yarn in Hugs 'n' Kisses colorway

Even though I certainly do knit some brightly-colored things, my favorite color is gray. I have to work hard to not buy gray yarn for everything I knit. 

As you can tell, this isn't completely successful.

I don't pay attention to what color patterns show at all. I pick colors that I will enjoy spending hours and hours with. Knit what you love!

Friday, April 20, 2012


While necessity may be the mother of invention,

I don't recommend trying to use paper clips as stitch holders.

Still, it got me through my lunch hour. Note to self: Always pack your notions bag.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Knitting Presents

At some point (or points, in my case), a knitter has to accept that she likes knitting so much that she must find people to give knitwear to lest she end up knitting a toilet cozy.

When it gets warmer and I can't get excited about knitting for myself, I start knitting presents.  A lot of the people for whom I knit have birthdays in the fall, so I'm never sure if I'm knitting for their birthday or for Christmas.*

I've recently finished two presents for a friend. First, I finished the Fallberry Knits I talked about here.

Fallberry Mitts (mine ravelled here)
knit in Knitpicks Stroll Sport in Rainforest Heather colorway

I also knit a pair of legwarmers.

some cloudy day (mine ravelled here)
knit in Knitpicks Felici fingering in Groovy colorway

I've knit several pairs of kneesocks (which are just legwarmers with a sock attached, and hence the reason I'm talking about them), and the calf decreases always feel complicated. This pattern doesn't have any decreases at all. Some of the pictures show them as very slouchy, but we of the ample calves will not have much slouchiness. (I know because I tried these on. My calves are about the same size as the recipient's.) We all know my love for Felici yarn, and the striping on these kept me interested.  "Look! A purple stripe!" I like these and probably will use this as my go-to pattern if I need to do legwarmers. 

Both of these projects went really quickly and were a nice change from the slow and steady progress of the Garden Gate socks. It feels really good to have some more projects finished for the present pile!

*This is a lie. I can never hold back and end up giving them everything I've knitted for their birthdays and then knitting more stuff for Christmas. Hey, it's better than a crack habit.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Through the Garden Gate

You know how you think about how you're going to write blog posts and what pictures you'll want?  You know how you get it all planned but never get around to taking the pictures and so nothing happens?

Yeah, well it's like that. The other idea wasn't all that great anyway, so I'm giving up and just showing you pictures of the Garden Gate socks. 

Garden Gate socks (mine Raveled here
knit in Dream in Color Smooshy in the Wisterious VS240 colorway 

On Ravelry, there's a place to rate the pattern's difficulty. I've always had trouble with that. If patterns are basically two stitches with some rearranging thrown in, how difficult can it be?*

I think I've been looking at it the wrong way. What if, instead of level of difficulty, I thought of it as level of attention required?

This sock requires a high level of attention. There are a lot of cables, and some of them include both a knit and purl stitch, so I can't cable them the way I'm used to (without a cable needle and without popping anything off the left needle while I work the stitches.) It wasn't exactly hard, but it required patience and attention.

Also, please, fortheloveofwool knit these with the pointiest needles you can find. I don't care if you have to whittle bamboo needle points with a table knife. It's worth it. I used my only pair of Signature needles, and I think they're the reason I was able to get these socks done without throwing anything.**

I love these socks. I think they're stunning. They're cable-y in the most perfect way.  The level of attention was worth it.

Now, let's knit something simple, shall we?

*This is not in any way to be construed that I don't screw knitting up. Constantly. I do. I just feel like I shouldn't.

**Note to self: Ask for Signature needles for Christmas.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Welcome, Little Flowers

Andrew is a wonderful human being. On Friday, he spent FOUR HOURS working with the tiller on our horrible soil. He is really sore, and he has an amazing blister on one hand. He was very successful.

I could not have done it without him, and I know he only did it to make me happy. He's a keeper.

Saturday, I moved several wheelbarrows of our dirt out of the bed and moved compost into the bed. The difference between junky soil and compost is very clear.

There are a few plants that either haven't arrived or haven't sprouted from seed, so I don't have everything planted that is planned. I do have most of it though. I moved a perennial grass we had stuck in the middle of the yard, planted daisies I dug up from a friend's yard, and some plants I bought because they looked pretty. This is the right side of the bed.

This is the left side. I conveniently didn't photograph the middle because that's where the blank spots are and two very stressed plants--a lilac start and a delphinium that did not appreciate how long it took to get the bed ready. I hope they both pull out of it.

Here's a shot of the whole bed. It's between sixteen and seventeen feet long and just a couple feet wide.

This plant with little pink flowers is a Saxifraga Touran 'Neon Rose', which I've never heard of. I love it so far and hope it spreads a bit. It also comes with white flowers and a deeper pink. I planted one on each end of the bed.

Those spiky-looking plants are a new-to-me plant called the Scilla Peruviana (Caribbean Jewels). When I took it out of the pot, it was three separate bulbs. I teased them apart and planted them separately. Hopefully that didn't anger them.

This is a Lithodora diffusa 'Grace Ward.' I don't know anything about it except what was on the plant tag, but I think it's beautiful.

And this beauty is an Anemone 'Harmony White.' A friend has them and says they spread like crazy. I may regret it someday, but right now I think a ton of anemones sound wonderful.

Besides the planting, we had a busy Easter weekend. We spent Sunday with Andrew's family. (Easter is Andrew's. Thanksgiving is mine. We learned early on that trying to spend time with both families on those holidays made the day really unenjoyable.) I hope you all had a lovely Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012


My yard has terrible soil. I often complain that it's equal parts clay, rocks, and roots. There are odd clumps of shiny black stuff, lots and lots of white rock from the construction drive, and so. much. clay.  I built a raised garden and haul compost to my house every year to put in areas where I try to grow perennials.

Indiana clay. Rich Mullins sings about it:

Talk about your miracles
Talk about your faith
My dad he could make things grow
Out of Indiana clay
Mom could make a gourmet meal
Out of just cornbread and beans
And they worked to give faith hands and feet
And somehow gave it wings

He's not kidding.

After work on Monday, I took my new tiller attachment and went to the side of the garage where I'm going to put the new perennial bed. The tiller roughed up the grass a bit, but that was all. I was physically not strong enough to put the weight on the tiller that was needed to penetrate the soil.

Stupid clay.

Andrew's going to work on it this weekend because he's a lovely, kind person. I have no illusions that it will be easy. I am extremely frustrated to be limited by my own strength in this project.

I've been working in a friend's yard this week, and her soil is delightful. I've been feeling jealous and crabby with a good dose of poor, pitiful me.

Then I read this article about the problems of poor soil in Africa.

Africa--where they grow food to survive. Africa--where their soil is crap and the farmers often don't have access to fertilizers. Africa--where the cost of fertilizers is much higher than in Europe and the people are less able to pay for them. Africa--where politics determines whether or not people can grow food.

I'm complaining about my soil for a perennial flower garden.

I apologize to the universe for being an asshole. Things are back into perspective, and I will try to hold on to that.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Claiming Success Where I Can

I hit a problem with the new perennial bed, namely clay soil. I'm not ready to talk more about that yet. I'm trying to convince myself that the defeat is temporary. Let's look at something else, shall we?

I've started knitting a few presents. I will have photos of other projects eventually, but I do have a picture of some fingerless gloves I'm working on.

Fallberry Mitts (mine ravelled here)
knit in Knitpicks Stroll Sport in Rainforest Heather colorway

The first one took two days to knit. Very, very fast.

I've done something I rarely do in knitting: I quit midproject to start something else. That makes me a little twitchy, but when I finished the first Garden Gate sock, I decided I couldn't bear starting the second just yet. It isn't that it's a terrible pattern. In fact, it's a very good pattern. It's just that it's very fussy. Looking at it, it should be clear that the pattern is going to take some work. It takes enough concentration that I decided a break was in order. I don't want knitting to feel like a chore.

And in the meantime, I get a present knitted.