Sunday, November 16, 2014

On process or project

I've suspected for awhile that I am a process knitter, rather than a project knitter. I think this is why I stick to small projects: because I want to be able to do a wide variety of techniques, which is what I find interesting in knitting. Having a finished object at the end is a bonus.

I've been working on a project for two years. It's a project I started because I loved the way the finished object will look. But the process itself is monotonous: mitered squares, over and over and over and over. Like 50 or so mitered squares. Feels like 500. Then there are all those tail ends to weave in before I can felt the object. The mitered squares average 4 colors each. That's 8 tail ends per square. I should have been doing them all along, but I haven't. I think I'm on Square 33. That's a boatload of weaving in that's waiting for me.

If I loved something else about the project -- the yarn or the needles -- it would probably be ok. But the yarn is shetland (rough and scraggly) and the size 5 needles I have are plastic -- excellent needles for the yarn, but no tactile or visual pleasure in them at all.

I would scrap the project, but I spent too much money on the yarn to feel good about doing that. I want the project to be a gift for somebody special. I think that's the only thing that actually keeps me plugging away at it.

Loving the color combinations and the look of the finished object is not enough to keep me wanting to work on a project. I knew when I bought the yarn that I didn't like the feel of it in my hands; I should have paid attention to that.

Lesson learned.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Catching up

The idea of this blog was that it was going to be a DAILY record of my knitting, no matter how mundane. I have actually knit since October 26, but I haven't journaled it. Have been really busy with family and PTSA commitments. Oh, well. Haven't got much done anyway. A few projects:

Swatch #1 for Basics, Basics, Basics is almost done. I misplaced the bag for awhile. Today I pulled it out to bind off and saw this:

A mistake, in garter stitch. What?!? I have no idea what I was doing when that happened. Obviously I purled one stitch. Anyway, I tinked back to that column of stitches (didn't want to add another row, so didn't want to knit over to it) and fixed it. It was a good exercise.

If you try to do it the easy (knit) way with a crochet hook all from one side, you end up with stockinette, not garter. So you have to continually turn the work. I did it all purl-wise (crochet hook into back of loose stitch so it's mounted correctly, bar you're picking up in front), but I realized afterwards that I could just as well have done it all knitwise. But you do have to take the hook out and put it back in the correct way each time no matter what -- otherwise you would twist stitches. I suppose you might be able to do it all from one side without turning the work if you alternated knitwise/purlwise?

I think I had to do eight stitches in the column. Here's how it looks now:

I'm going to knit a second example of this swatch, on metal needles. I think the tension here is nothing like my normal tension. I think I was nervous about Arenda seeing my work. That's silly; the whole point of this class is to get an evaluation of my ACTUAL knitting, not knitting I do in somebody else's style.

Other things I'm working on:

Going to try steam-blocking my sister-in-law's long-neglected scarf today to see if I like the buttonholes better. If not, I'll figure something else out. I really don't want to do a regular button band with that yarn.

Altering my grandpa's Aran sweater that he brought back from Ireland. The arms are like gorilla arms. This is a project I've had going for about a year. I knit a sample of the cable pattern and cuff to practice on.  I have practiced the picking-up and did a trial run on my mockup sample. The plan is to remove the cuffs and reattach them higher, removing yarn in the process to use to do the splicing. Really want to get this done. I had my mom stitch zig-zag on her sewing machine above where the cuff is going to be cut off as a safeguard. Right now one sleeve is all ready on two long circulars, ready for the snip-snip.

Got to get started on my Christmas knitting, pronto!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Lesson 1 has arrived!

It begins! I received the first (of three) lessons this week from Arenda. I was out of town, so didn't start knitting until tonight. I'm finding that I am knitting a little differently than usual -- being maybe a little unnatural in the way I am pulling the yarn tight, especially on ribbing. I'll probably knit a couple examples of Swatch 1 -- the second time, I will try to do it less self-consciously, just the way I normally knit. It will be interesting to see the difference.

Lesson 1 asks for a letter with my knitting history, reference books, and whether I plan to do the Master course. Here's what I wrote:

Dear Arenda,

I started knitting on an extremely casual basis about five years ago. I watched an acquaintance figure out how to cast on and knit from YouTube videos and decided to try it myself. I bought some US4 bamboo circular needles with a short cable, tried knitting some worsted weight acrylic yarn I had laying around, and concluded it was too hard and frustrating!  A year or so later I felt like trying again, so I did some research and bought better needles for the yarn. I watched lots of YouTube videos, mostly those by Judy Graham (knittingtipsbyjudy) and Staci Perry (verypinkknits), and knitted dozens of small swatches of different stitch patterns. I found that knitting at night after my son went to bed was very relaxing, and it helped me with anxiety and insomnia. I just knit swatches for a long time before I tried making any projects.

I mostly knit accessories like scarves, hats, and gloves. I’ve never knit any larger garments or socks. I have done some Fair Isle, and I would like to try an intarsia project for a Christmas present. I have done some small cable projects. I have done moebius knitting and mosaic knitting. My username on Ravelry is harrietwimsey.

I plan to do the Master Knitter Certification program after I complete the Basics program.

Here are the knitting reference books I own:
  • The Knitting Book, by Frederica Patmore and Vikki Haffenden (DK Publishing, 2011).
  • How to Knit, by Debbie Bliss (Collins & Brown Ltd., 1999).
  • The Complete Book of Needlecraft, by Janet Kirkwood et al (Exeter Books, 1983).
  • Designing Knitwear, by Deborah Newton (Taunton Press, 1998).
  • The Encyclopedia of Knitting and Crochet Stitch Patterns, by Linda Mariano (Service Communications, Ltd., 1978).
  • Pop Knitting, by Britt-Marie Christoffersson (Interweave Press, 2012).

[P.S. - I know the blog is meant to be daily, but last week was crazy!!! I'll do better this week.]

Monday, October 20, 2014

Improved buttonholes!

Today I took half an hour and tackled my buttonhole problem. I watched Arenda Holladay's one-row buttonhole tutorial (linked in yesterday's post) a few times and got in a little practice. These are definitely improved buttonholes:

A thing I love about her video is that on the wrong side, when you're casting on the stitches to replace the ones you bound off, you do the cable cast on purlwise so that the pretty side of the cast on shows on the right side of the work. I like detailed solutions like that!

But I am going to have to practice the purlwise cable cast on, because it's hard to get the stitches as uniform and tight as they should be. I don't know if that's because it's purlwise or because I'm just not strong on the cast on itself. I think part of my problem yesterday was that the backwards loop cast on stitches were not fully uniform (and they were too tight). This seems like an area for me to work on.

Here's a closer look at my third (and best) buttonhole:


Sunday, October 19, 2014

A new knitting adventure and buttonhole frustration

My new knitting adventure
You probably thought my "new knitting adventure" is this blog, right? Nah. The new knitting adventure upon which I embarked is signing up for Arenda Holladay's "Basics, Basics, Basics" correspondence course through The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA). Many people in the TKGA Ravelry group have advised that this course is a great way to prepare for TKGA's Master Knitter Level 1.

I've been considering the master knitter certification for about a year now. I first started thinking about it last November, when a friend and I held a Sip & Stitch party for an awesome group of ladies, and I had so much fun helping them, explaining why some things worked and some didn't, showing how to recognize mistakes. I had a high from that afternoon for a couple of weeks. That was when I realized that knitting speaks to my heart.

This morning I woke up determined to do the master knitter certification process. Since I'm a self-taught knitter, though, I think it's important for me to do the Basics course first. I want to make sure there's not a problem with my knitting that I haven't noticed. I've always wondered, for example, whether my tension is good. It seems like I should know one way or the other, but I don't. Also, the correspondence course is similar to the MKC process, so it would be a nice preview.

So... looking forward to getting started on that. Because, you know, I have almost no knitting to do. Only four projects on needles right now, and haven't started all of my planned Christmas presents. :-/

Buttonhole frustration
Almost finished with my sister-in-law's birthday present. It's only been a month since her birthday. (What?) It's been a while since I've made something with buttonholes, and I messed them up today. I kept starting with the wrong stitch for the bind-off, and that was frustrating. It probably didn't help that I was doing this while watching the Seahawks lose to the Rams. (I'm chalking that up to the readjustments they're making on offense AND special teams after Harvin's trade the day before yesterday. Repeat is still on the table.) I did finally get the buttonholes right (thanks to Staci Perry's buttonhole video) but I don't like the way they look:

As you can see, the edges of the one on the left in the picture, especially, are really sloppy. I should totally rip the button band back and start over, but I'm not feeling like it today. Maybe tomorrow. When the work is laying flat, the garter stitch of the button band camouflages the uneven edge stitches. I know that is a terrible attitude for somebody who aspires to be a master knitter. I watched Arenda's one-row buttonhole tutorial and I will probably re-do the band using that technique, to see if it looks better. This is a synthetic yarn, so wonky stitches will not tighten up in blocking. That said, the photo makes the whole thing look worse than it actually is. The seed stitch looks great in person and terrible in the photo. Looking at that photo, I'm also thinking that garter stitch is the wrong choice for the button band. It's not quite a clean enough differentiation from the seed stitch. Maybe I'll try it in stockinette.

I'll post a picture of the project after I've given her the present. This might get posted on Facebook. I think she'll like it.

A few notes on this blog
I am really writing this blog for myself: to keep track of questions, problems, things that worked and didn't, etc., to improve my learning process. I have never liked journaling, and I find blogging much easier. "Knitki" is a Russian-English play on words. Because I'm a Russian-loving nerd. The word "nitki" in Russian means "threads". I added the silent K because, well, knit.