Friday, February 26, 2010

The Calm before the Storm: Knitting with Blizzard

Faithful Reader: I have not forgotten about the 10 months to Holidays Knitting. I'll be posting about that topic soon! Thanks for tuning in!

Some people go out for bread and milk before a storm. I go out for yarn. Before the snowstorm hit Southeastern Massachusetts a little over a week ago I visited my LYS, the much-loved Knitting Circle, to be sure I was stocked with new yarn and a new project. I had been eyeing Reynold's Blizzard for a while: 65% Alpaca and 35% Acrylic. I decided to use a pattern out of Jean Frost's Jackets books: Fairfield.

One of my goals with this project was to learn how to calculate my own gauge and apply that knowledge to the project. As much as I love Sensei I must learn to be an independent knitter. Besides, as Sensei says, "My students depend on me. What are they learning?" So I'm out to make Sensei proud.
Here's the process for those who need the skill: I worked my swatch in pattern. My Knitting Sensei measured my knit stitches and then my purl stitches to determine how many stitches I had per inch. She averaged those amounts together to get my stitches per inch because I swatched in pattern. The pattern is a lovely basket weave similar to Reynold's Blizzard pattern 82331.  I duplicated that process and came up with the same numbers. Relief! The Wabi Sabi Knitter can be taught!

Sensei and I also decided to cast on stitches for the fronts and back on a circular needle (size 11) so I'd have less finishing work to do. The pattern has 8 rows that are wonderfully easy to work. The yarn is buttery as one of my friends mentioned. I recommend winding it (as opposed to knitting from the yarn pulled out of the middle of the skein) as every once in a while the yarn velcros to itself a bit. I did notice a knot early on while winding the yarn. Knots aside, the yarn is a pleasure to knit up.  I am very pleased with my choice. The irony is that I've been unable to knit because I injured my hand after slipping on some ice. I'll keep you posted on my recovery and progress on the project.

Comment with any questions and ideas! I hope you are enjoying your knitting life. Be well!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Eleven Months to Christmas 2010

I am not a speedy knitter. I don't have a lot of time to knit (see previous post). The most important conclusion from these two facts: time is my friend. Lots of time. Time to plan and get a project done. I've decided to count down to holiday season 2010. This will inspire and allow me to make at least one hand-knitted gift this Christmas. So, join me as I begin this journey and countdown to holidays 2010. I know you're wondering: will the recipient appreciate hand-made gifts in particular and knitting in general? A resounding, "Yes!" I am blessed with people who clamor for knitted gifts. A blessing and a curse, really.

Let's talk about resources. I am looking first at Interweave magazine's Holiday Gift Guide 2009. It has some great ideas such as little mice ornaments and the Tapestry Mittens would make stunning gifts. I am also partial to the Wine and Roses Mitts. (Hint to my knitting buddies, I'd love a pair myself!) Also check out the Interweave website They have wonderful ideas. I just typed "Christmas" into the search box and am inspired.

What have been your favorite patterns from Christmas past? Hanukkah? Winter Solstice? Please share the inspiration. I particularly want to know the responses from the lucky ones who received knitted gifts.

Interweave is just one wonderful resource out of many. I'll be blogging about my search for a Christmas pattern this month and sharing more resources. I hope to have made a choice by February 25, 2010. I'll keep you posted. Keep knitting! Be well!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy New Year 2010: Keep Knitting!

Happy New Year and happy knitting! 2010 is two weeks old and it's time for some inspiration and updates. I want to stay connected with you in 2010 and share the wonderful journey of life and knitting. You'll find some updates here as well as a link to a great You Tubevideo that may help cure some tension problems when knitting. I'm going to post separately about the swatch you see here and (more importantly) how to see where tension problems exist and how to fix them.
The Knitting Guild of America has great advice on technique, especially when you are trying to perfect stitch tension.
I vow to knit more in 2010. You are my witness. This will be a challenge. Why? Time for you to be updated: I took on a new challenge in 2009 that will impact 2010, my life in general, and, of course, my knitting. I filled out the appropriate paperwork and declared a second undergraduate degree in biochemistry. It is a wonderful and challenging course of study. I must admit, though, classes have cut deeply into my knitting time. Also my sleeping, eating, and family time. I am on a mission, though, for most of my adult life I suffered from undiagnosed celiac disease, an autoimmune disease, andI intend to make a contribution to the field of immunology.

Having said that I must insist: being a science major is fun. Yes, I'm not only a yarn-nerd but a science nerd, too! So, extra emphasis on time management skills in 2010. Let's learn together as I am convinced we could all stand to manage our time just a bit better. I want to hear from those of you out there whose lives are quite frankly getting in the way of their knitting. How do you work around it? How do you sneak it in? I'll be giving some ideas about portable knitting and approaches to working on projects at least a few minutes a day. I hope to add an e-mail link to me, soon. In the meantime, please comment!

In 2010 you'll see some new posts and sections on the blog that reflect the marriage of yarn and science. I'll be sharing some links to podcasts and audible books that are inspirational and informative. Also, I'll share more techniques as I work my way through Lesson 1 on the Knitting Guild of America's correspondence course. Well worth it! And, my instructor understands my limited time and is working with me. Great!

One of the first lessons I've learned is to watch my tension. Or, more accurately, to learn to see how uneven tension can affect my stitches. I knit in the Continental Style. When I first learned to knit I honestly did not know there were even different ways to knit, to hold yarn, etc. I now understand that the way you knit can result in tight or loose knit or purl stitches. My instructor recommended this video from Craft Sanity -- -- to help me from making my knit stitches too tight and my purls too loose:

Watch this blog for annotated pictures of my lesson swatches to see how too loose purls show up in your knitting. Simple techniques, big effect on your knitting.

Until next time, keep knitting. Be happy!