Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Three Cheers for Variegated Yarn!

I love variegated yarn. I remember getting a ball of pink, purple and aqua Red Heart Super Saver when I was a kid, and it was love at first sight. My mom crocheted a blanket for my favorite bear out of this yarn, and from then on I just wanted more rainbow yarn.

Last night I started to knit Knitty's Ice Queen with a sock yarn in shades of red, purple and brown. It occured to me that I get most excited about working on projects with multicolored yarn, and I usually finish them much faster that projects with plain yarn. Why is this? Well I think I just love seeing the changes in color. I am an impatient knitter, and I think watching the colors change and seeing how they look next to each other pushes me to knit more and more. I know I shouldn't stay up late knitting, but I keep pleading with myself, just one more round! I want to see how the purple looks next to the orange! I want to see the red change to brown!

I knit Iris Schreier's Sheer One-Piece Shawl as a Christmas present with a variegated pink yarn, and I just loved watching the shades of pink form the modular squares. I am lucky to have enough leftover yarn to make myself one of these shawls. In fact, I am excited to knit more of the projects in Modular Knits, because multicolored yarn really shows of the angles of modular knitting.

So, three cheers for variegated yarn!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Den-m-Nit version 2.0

I am stubborn. When something doesn't work out right, I usually go whole hog and try to MAKE it work to the point of making myself crazy. I am determined to make something out of that Den-M-Nit yarn I have. Last night I pulled it out of the grocery bag hidden in my yarn room and tried a new approach. Bigger needles and a simple sort of lace pattern. I knit up a swatch and sometime this weekend I'll throw it into the washing machine to figure out the shrinkage. No screaming or throwing the yarn across the room was involved, so things are looking up!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Den-m-Nit is a no-knit for me!

Some projects are just not meant to be. I tried writing a pattern for a summer top using Elann's Den-M-Nit yarn and failed miserably. I bought the yarn months ago and it sat in my yarn room until last week. I thought it was worsted weight, so I imagined knitting it with size 7 or 8 needles. I went to swatch and found I needed much smaller needles, so I went for size 5. I really don't like knitting on anything smaller than size 7, so that was the first nail in the coffin. I wanted to use a sort of lacy leaf stitch pattern, but it just wasn't working with the cotton yarn.

I finally found a stitch pattern I liked, little fans formed from pulling up loops from a few rows below the working stitch. I swatched, wrote out my pattern and started knitting away happily in the round.

Then I got knitter's wrist. After about 10 rows I was all sore, and realized that since cotton has very little give, it was a lot tougher to knit with. Well fine, I can knit this for awhile then work on something else for awhile and alternate.

I got to the second row of fans and realized that one of the fans was going to fall right on the join of the round. Ack! Why couldn't I see this coming??

Well at this point I gave up and shoved it into a grocery bag because I didn't want to look at it anymore. I think this yarn is going back to my yarn room (yes, it needs a whole room) until I can find (or create!) a more suitable project.

So what is the next step? Well I ordered more yarn of course! I really was in love with the style of my pattern, so I'm going to try it out in Elann's silk tweed yarn. I figured silk would have a bit more softness and drape than the cotton, so I might get to use that leafy stitch pattern.

We shall see!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

inconvienient inspiration

I get the best ideas at the most inconvienient times. Usually its while I'm driving, trying to fall asleep, or in the shower. So I've taken to keeping a notepad in the car (but only jotting down my ideas when i've stopped!), and a notepad and flashlight next to my bed. I still haven't found a good solution for the shower. I guess its when I am relaxed that those brilliant ideas just pop into my head.

Last night I was trying to work on a design for summer than I want to submit for publication. It seemed like nothing was turning out right. The yarn was labeled worsted weight, but I ended up having to use much smaller needles than I anticipated. Then the stitch pattern I wanted to use wasn't working. I spent the next couple of hours trying to find something that would work. I finally found one, but then I couldn't find a decorative rib that I liked. After frogging about a dozen times, it was almost midnight and I gave up and went to bed. About five minutes after I turned off the light, all sorts of ideas popped into my head. On came the flashlight and I jotted them down. But mostly I wanted to sleep! Today during my lunch hour I will try them out and see if they really are brilliant or not!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

adventures in casting on

I used to only know two ways to cast on, and I didn't think it really mattered in the end which technique I used. You just need to get the stitches onto the needles, right? Wrong! For Christmas I received a copy of Knitter's Handbook by Montse Stanley. In this book, there are over 30 ways to cast on! And there is even a list to help you decide what type of cast on would be most appropriate for your project. This afternoon I sat down and tried out about a dozen of these techniques. Some of them were hard to understand. I find it difficult to learn from just a couple of sentences and an illustration. After a quick trip to the internet I finally learned how to do the long-tail cast on, and was able to figure out several variations of it.

After cast-ons, the next part of the book is about bind-offs. I guess I will save that chapter for another day!

This book really has an amazing wealth of information and I would recommend it for any knitter.

Friday, January 4, 2008

knitting machine

I find lots of sweaters that I would love to knit, but simply don't have enough time to knit. After pining away, I finally came up with a solution. I decided to get a knitting machine. Much easier than slowing down time. I found a 50% coupon for Michaels and bought myself an Ultimate Sweater Machine. I watched the DVD and thought, wow that doesn't sound too hard. I had read mixed reviews about the USM, and it seemed like people either hated it or loved it. I was hoping I would be one of the people that love it.

I spent most of the next 4 days screaming at my machine and almost breaking the carriage . I was not loving it. My first mistake was not waxing the keyplates. The video did not mention using the wax at all. I was taking a break one evening, and wondered to myself what that round circle of wax was for. Ooooohhh, you have to wax the keyplates! Well after doing that it worked better. Not perfect, but better. I was able to knit about 5 rows before the whole weighted hem came crashing down on my bare feet. Note to self: wear shoes while machine knitting.

Suddenly on day 5, something clicked, and I was magically able to knit without jamming the carriage or dropping any stitches. Yay! I accomplished something meaningful!

Last night I attempted to write my own sweater pattern. I spent about 2 hours knitting the back on my machine, and when I cast off, I realized that the armholes were way too long. Alas, I had to frog. But I was much happier to lose 2 hours of work, than a month's worth of work if I had knit it by hand.

Tonight will be my next attempt with said sweater back, this time with much shorter armholes.


I am hopelessly addicted to Ravelry. After being a lone knitter for a long time, it is nice to be surrounded by other people that are just as crazy about yarns as I am. Instead of drinking coffee in the morning, I have to get my Ravelry fix!