Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Finishes and Frogging

I had a swarm of finished objects here at the end of December.  Most were gifts for Christmas and one was a just languishing project. The gift knitting was not coming along as I wanted it too, but I did rally managing to put aside my Fair Isle Vest for the time being.  First up were the two scarfs for my friend Anna's friends, who have now become my friends (don't you love it when that happens?)  The one was a lattice design using a thick aran weight yarn, the other was simply textured in a luxurious angora/silk yarn.  When I finished those two knits I quickly wrapped them posting them just in time for Christmas.  Phew!  Then comes my biggest accomplishment - I finished my mothers' cardigan sweater.  Wow, I just love how it came out.  The best part is the colorwork was much looser this time around (I knit this same sweater for her 2 years ago and my stranded knitting came out pretty tight) so it was a breeze to block into shape.  The collar lays down much better too on this version, as I made a few discrete decreases in the last couple rows.  It is a touch big on her, but she really loves it and that's the main point.  

After that project I whizzed through making some felted slippers for my son.  He asked for them way back in September so I'm a bit late getting to them, but now they are done.  They are Minecraft themed after a famous Youtuber iBallisticsquid who my son watches.  His Minecraft character is a squid and this is what the face looks like.  You see my son already has the same size feet as I do (US sized 8 1/2 Women's) at the mere age of 9 so the "fun" slippers for children don't fit him anymore.  And being only nine he of course wants fun slippers. Thankfully they were a hit.

My last completed object is a pillow of a chicken for myself.  It's the Oluffa doorstop by Lucinda Guy.  I have no use for a doorstop, or a pillow either for that matter, but I adored this pattern the moment I saw it.  It was my Christmas Day knitting and I finished her in just a few days.  We're still thinking up a name for her - any ideas?  The only tricky thing is there are some very long floats, but I did a bit of duplicate stitch in some areas to get around that.  All in all it's a very fun knit with embroidery added and I would highly recommend it to anyone.  

I was hoping to finish my White Russian sweater by Thea Coleman as it was already about 1/2 done, but sadly I frogged it instead of finishing it.  The sleeves were really, really big and I tried to fix them twice, but decided it is ultimately a flawed design for my body shape and desired fit.  I have a large bust, but average sized arms and with a top down raglan the only way to enlarge the bust is to enlarge the sleeves as well.  After reading more about sweater designs I am going to go back to a bottom up pieced sweater with set in sleeves.  You really have lots more control over sizing when knitting all the pieces separately and seaming afterwards.  Thus I frogged it, re-skeined the yarn and gave the yarn another bath so it will be all smooth and fresh with which to knit another sweater.  This is the sweater I'm planning on with an added turtleneck.  It will be my first Custom Fit Amy Herzog sweater so I thought I'd keep it simple.  

Today I'm swatching for a fresh knit to start in January.  My first choice is a Fair Isle turtleneck sweater for myself and second is this cabled vest for my husband.  I really should do my husband's first as he did not receive a knitted gift this year for Christmas, but oh the colors for the first are fabulous!   What are you working on?  Planning for the new year or just winging it?  I'm loosely planning to knit a mix of new and old projects, taking my time and knitting only things that I really love.  Happy New Year everyone!

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Still Learning

 My mistake fix on the inside of my Fair Isle Vest (second crochet reinforcement and weaving ends still need to be done.  With slippery yarn you can never be too careful right?)

My mistake fix from the outside of my Fair Isle Vest.

I was having one of "those" moments with my son.  We were doing a simple writing exercise to work on his printing and he made a mistake.  I said not to worry there are erasers for such moments and that is why we use pencils.  He was angry at himself, me, the situation.  I got frustrated and angry myself at what I thought was blowing out of proportion a minor slip of the pencil.  He rewrote the lowercase "a" over a dozen times never quite happy with it.  I sat losing my patience until I realized he was having a perfectionist moment.  You know those moments when you can see in your mind what you want to happen and just can't seem to make your body do it the "right" way?  Well, I have had quite a few of those in my time.  In fact, they used to completely immobilize me until I learned that not doing something you wanted was worse than trying.  I needed to help him learn that lesson too.  So after calming myself down and finding my reasonable voice again I told him a story.  I asked him if he could remember a time when I didn't knit.  He said he couldn't.  I said you would think with all that time and practice knitting I would no longer make mistakes right?  He said yes.  And I followed with the following example of a big mistake I just made.  

My Fair Isle Vest that I am knitting is too big in circumference.  I did all the right things.  My substitute yarn weighed the same as the original for the same amount of yardage.  I knit a swatch in the round as I would be knitting the sweater.  I carefully measured over a large area and averaged the stitch count.  I got gauge.  But the gauge my sweater was coming out as was a 1/2 a stitch off.  How much difference can half a stitch make?  Try 5 inches difference.  Yup, too big by a lot.  What to do?  Well, I contemplated the options of 1) frogging it all and starting over.  2) finishing it as is and give it to someone.  3) cutting out the extra inches and seaming to the right size.  I chose option number three.  I went through the cast on stitch amounts for each size dividing by my gauge of 6 stitches to the inch to see which one was closest to my chest size.  I then took the difference between the stitches I cast on and the stitches for the size that would fit at my gauge and marked off the 32 stitches that I needed to remove.  By consulting the charts for this new size I would be knitting I was able to pick where to take these stitches out so the patterning would match up.  I then did a crocheted steek, cut out the extra inches and used a mattress stitch to seam the two sides back together.  On the right side of the vest it is very hard to see the seam, but on the inside it's a bit bulky with the steek salvages on each side of the seam.  So, it's a trade off, but tearing out all that knitting would have been just too difficult emotionally for me, not to mention the fact that I diligently wove in all the ends already.  

So, I closed my story with saying that by making the mistake I learned something new.  I learned how to make a repair in my knitting that I've never done before, and that maybe a "quick" in the round swatch is not the same as a true in the round swatch, at least for me.  That really I needed to slow down even more.  I needed to knit the tube swatch or hat , measure gauge, wash it, measure gauge, repeat if adjustments are needed and finally start my project.  I told my son slowing down is ok, there is no deadline and rushing is not necessary.  Mistakes will happen, but what we do with our mistakes is what's important, not the mistake itself.  As always, I don't know what he will take from this little exchange, but hopefully he'll stop worrying about being perfect and simply try.  

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On and Ginny for Yarn Along.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Embracing the Slow Path

The swatch for Mary Jane Mucklestone's Craftsy class on Fair Isle Vests.  It's a new beginning.

I've been thoughtful as of late on the idea of slow fashion.  After viewing the movie The True Cost which chronicles the path of our clothing and how fast fashion (i.e. new clothing styles every month of cheap clothes) is costing others their health, their environment and even their lives.  Before watching I kinda knew some of the issues with cheap clothing, but this movie really brings home it's point.  It wasn't all a downer though.  They showcased some solutions.  People Tree fair trade clothing was one trying to create a new model for how their clothing is created.  I would even purchase from them if they made clothing in a big enough size (a problem I find often with fair trade clothing.)  Well, all this to say I started questioning the speed of my knitting and that perhaps I should slow it down a bit.

As I wrote in this post I went on a retreat this past Autumn to learn faster more efficient knitting techniques.  I just always seem to want to make more then I can in a year.  Sometimes even choosing simpler patterns so I can go faster - the garter stitch shawl is a good example as purling slows a lot of us down.  Social Media seems to push us all to do more, more, more as we share our projects.  It's simply not as fun showing the same knitting project week after week.  But, now I think it's time for a change, at least for me, to pick my knitting patterns with more care and only knit that which I absolutely love, will wear and that fits my life.  And if it's a really difficult time consuming pattern that is fine - I have time, there is no rush.  I'm not naked in winter needing clothing instantly.  I have a closet and chest full.  It begs the question "How many sweaters, cowls, hats etc do I really need?"

After helping a relative clean out her closet I was amazed at her amassed clothing, shoes and coats and couldn't see how she could possibly wear all of it in a year's time.  Even in my own meager wardrobe (our house was built in 1945 so closets are very, very small) there are items I do not get around to wearing in a year.  In the US we are so conditioned that more is better, but I'm wondering if the opposite is true.  I've been working on this a while with my wardrobe, but thought nothing of it when it comes to my knitting.  Out of all the items I've knit I really only wear one sweater constantly all winter, have one cowl that goes with everything, and use only 2 sets of mittens and hats.  I think part of the problem is understanding yourself and what clothing really truly fits you and your lifestyle.  I'm an at home mom who wears jeans all day, and doesn't like tight or fussy clothing, yet I find myself constantly attracted to shawls I never wear or Vintage or dressy sweaters that wouldn't suit our cold Minnesota winters.  

So, what to do?  Well, I think the main thing for me is to simply focus on what I'm knitting now, enjoy the process and bag the idea of a deadline.  I'm always planning ahead and thinking of where I want to get to, in a certain time frame and I think therein lies my problem.  I'm going to try and finish a sweater for my mom and a scarf for a friend for Christmas then back to knitting for enjoyment without a deadline or looking to the next project.  If I can stop judging myself by what I accomplish and complete I think I'm in for some major changes - some really good changes.  

Wishing you all some peace during this busy holiday season.

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When Will it End

Well, November flew by me in a blur of caring for others.  I flew Washington D.C. to be with a friend as she underwent major back surgery and right before I left my mother had a small stroke.  Both are on the road to recovery as they say and are doing well.  During these events I spent a lot of time in hospitals waiting for one thing or another.  And while I think our healthcare system is majorly messed up in this country, all the caregivers, be they nurses, doctors or volunteers, were wonderfully kind of which I am so very grateful.  You would think I got lots of knitting done during all this "waiting", but alas no.  See, when you're with someone who needs distraction themselves your knitting simply takes a back seat.

Like many others this time of year I am working on gifts.  Many, oddly enough, are for friends of my friend who had back surgery.  She herself does not like Christmas, but I told her she could make it her own and start some of her own traditions.  This piqued her interest.  I thought I'd start her off in the role of elf and have her deliver some handmade gifts to her friends who have all been so very kind and welcoming to me.  Nothing big mind you.   Just a few of the above ornaments called Whigmarleerie by Kate Davies and a couple pairs of fingerless mitts.  Two people will get a bigger gift of a scarf each.  Now, at the time I promised these scarves last Spring I might have had a few glasses of wine in me and thought to myself "Sure.  Scarves are easy.  No problem!"  But, what I forgot is that they take forever.  I mean for-ev-er.  True I picked a pattern with a lot of moss stitch which was not the smartest move, but it was simple and handsome.  And "simple" is supposed to mean it's an easy knit right?  Wrong, it just means I'm bored now with 100 yards still to go.  Will it ever end?  Of course when it does I have the other "simple" yet boring to knit scarf that is 2/3's done.  Then there's my mom's sweater, slippers for my son and a vest for my husband.  

I sound like I'm complaining, and I am a wee bit, but I do enjoy the giving of these gifts so much.  Knitting for people who I know will wear, use and thoroughly enjoy what I give them brings me great pleasure.  In my book knitting equals love.  As most all knitters say too this time of year  "I promise myself that next year I'll start earlier, stick with it and get my gifts done early."  Probably won't happen, but dreaming is half the fun I think.  Here's wishing you all a lovely holiday season! 

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.