Monthly Archives: May 2012

rib 1 m 1…

My third knitting project is a beanie hat using moss stitch.  I was originally aiming for a scarf in this pattern but felt that making one would bore me as the moss stitch can be quite tedious and making scarves isn’t one of the most challenging items (I’m all about the challenge!)

designed by twilleys of stamford

The yarn I’m using is Wendy “Norse Chunky” in Porpoise (2701), 50% wool and 50% acrylic.  At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d even like this yarn as I’m not a great fan of acrylic.  Of course people will insist it’s more affordable, allergy-free, moth-proof – all that palava – but it’s still a man-made fibre, my dears.  It’s still related to plastic!

Luckily, though, this yarn is nice enough; it’s very similar to Sublime “Chunky Merino Tweed” (40% less acrylic).  After knitting a few rows, the fabric becomes soft and smooth, with just the right sheen, and you can tell what a pleasure it’ll be to wear the hat when it’s finished.  I’m knitting ribs then a pattern on top for the first time, and in the photo above, my attempt isn’t bad.  There might be a couple of ribs not quite in sync as I somehow miscounted, but I’m pretty much satisfied with my overall attempt – satisfied to the point where I won’t unravel the lot!

On the instructions, however, I did struggle to comprehend what “rib 1, [MK 1, rib 9] 8 times” meant and Googled the term to no avail.  The most helpful result I found was here, and using this as a guide, I puzzled out my own pattern until I knew what “rib 1, [MK 1, rib 9] 8 times meant.

***

rib 1 = K1 (the 1st stitch of the moss stitch pattern – the rib pattern – based on an odd number of stitches; ie. 73)

MK 1 = make a new stitch by inserting your knitting needle between the 1st and 2nd stitches on the left needle, just under the yarn connecting the two stitches together; make the new stitch knit-wise then slip the newly made stitch onto the right needle without knitting or purling it

rib 9 = P1, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P1 (follow the moss stitch pattern where you left off in rib 1 so that you work 9 stitches of the rib pattern and then do K1, P1, K1, etc. for the 2nd repeat and so on)

8 times = repeat the instructions [MK 1, rib 9] 8 times until the end of the row, after which you should have 81 stitches for the next row

***

Discovering what “rib 1, [MK 1, rib 9] 8 times” meant has been really rewarding and saved me from shuffling into Let’s Knit and Stitch this week to ask Teresa and Frances, who I am looking to visit tomorrow morning not only to resolve an incorrect receipt but probably to exchange 2 x Wendy Norse Chunkys for 3 x Sublime Merino Tweed.  My boyfriend has been convinced that owning a cowl of his own is better than not owning one at all, so I’m looking to oblige him!

And here are the goodies I picked up in This is Knit:

clover knitting register

This knitting counter will help me keep track of every row in any pattern and fits comfortably on any needle up to 6.5 mm.  However, I’m not sure what chemical they’re talking about and I’m thankful not to be pregnant in the State of California…

warning: knitting cancer!

clover point protectors (lrg)

These silicone point protectors fit needles from 3.75 mm to 6.5 mm and come in soft purple.  They’re really useful for keeping your work safe and intact, especially if you’re knitting on your travels or have curious kids/pets who find your yarns irresistible.

Accumulating all this knitting gear means I will need some storage… where to find a knitter’s box?

Advertisements

addicted to cowls

Call me fast or crazy, but I’ve finished my purple cowl:

front view

I’m not sure why the Garter Girl requested knitters not to sell this item.  Perhaps she doesn’t have time to mass-knit and sell them herself, but this cowl is so stylish that many people may approach a knitter in order to have one – what a shame it would be to refuse their eager-eyed custom!  Ah well, not that I understand knitter politics…

rear view

Knitting this project introduced two new techniques that I hadn’t tried before: kitchener stitch and weaving the ends.

The first was a lot easier than I thought.  The only tricky part is the yarn thinning out and breaking.  This happened a couple of times, affecting how evenly my stitches appeared, but it’s only to be expected when the yarn I’m using is casually spun.  A video I recommend for the kitchener stitch is one by KnittingHelp.com.  You can see exactly where your darning needle has to go and you’ll soon get it done in no time!

Despite how useful this video is, it doesn’t go into what happens before you begin the kitchener stitch.  There might be another video that deals with this, but in case there isn’t, and to save you the hassle of having to dig it out: place the knitting needle with the provisional cast-on stitches on the left and the knitting needle with your active yarn on the right, then sever the active yarn by the length you think you’ll need to do the kitchener stitch and thread it on your darning needle.

The second technique, weaving the ends, was almost overlooked in the same way as the provisional cast-on (must stop doing this!)  Even though I felt the kitchener stitch was strong enough to cope, instructions advised me to “weave in the ends”, and this video by Staci helped me to do it.  In the photo above, you will see how the seam ended up from combining kitchener stitch and weave ends.  It bothers me a little that the seam is so apparent (it was more invisible with the kitchener stitch alone), but I guess it’s better to have a strong seam than a weak one!

Tilli Tomas “Voile de la Mer” in Forest

I’m planning to visit This is Knit later this afternoon for 5.0mm KnitPro Symfonie needles and possibly to indulge in a skein of Tilli Tomas on sale at €12.00 (reduced from €17.50).  I love the mixture of brown, beige, green, and orange but it’s an expensive yarn, thanks to 70% silk and 30% seacell (some kind of kelp fibre?)  Wouldn’t hurt to look, though!  And now’s the best time to go, since their opening times have switched to summer (11:30-17.45).


hello merino!

Moving onto my next project now: the Burberry-inspired cowl neck scarf by the Garter Girl.

my very own cowl 🙂

One and half pattern repeats later and the cowl begins to take its shape!  This pattern is very easy to do, and to help me with the process, Agujas suggested using a stitch marker to count the rows, which appear in the pattern up to 10 at a time.  So I went to Let’s Knit and Stitch yesterday to purchase one, only to find myself inspired by some yarns and patterns I saw on display.

adding to the yarn stash!

As a happy consequence, I bought 5 skeins of chunky Norse wool in pale grey for a scarf, one skein of Sirdar 4-ply yarn for a hat (accompanied by 2.75mm and 3.25mm needles), and an extra skein of Sublime chunky merino to finish my purple cowl.  Two patterns to help with the hat and scarf are by Sirdar (9348) and Twilleys of Stamford (9126), featuring a 4-ply hat-and-beret set with cute cabling and a scarf -and-hat set in seed stitch.

I had more of a chat with the owners, Frances and Teresa, and I think the nervous store assistant was actually the former.  If so, she is very friendly and approachable, compared to her sister Teresa, whose calm demeanour can be daunting if you’re a little shy, but they both know their stuff, even offering to help with the patterns I chose in case of any hiccups.  There is currently a drive for supporting Irish businesses here in the Republic and it’s great that I can purchase my knitting goods from a place just down the road, from people who have a true passion.

By the way, did you notice anything in the first photo that I didn’t?

the provisional cast-on

Well, I put my hand up to this one: I didn’t think there was anything special about the term “provisional cast-on” until I read He Sows, She Sews, where Gretchen explains how to bind the Clara Cowl after you’ve finished knitting it.  While the pattern is the perfect choice for a more ‘masculine’ cowl (planning to knit one for my boyfriend, you see), it cast a grey cloud over my project as it meant having to unravel 4 hours of knitting to insert the provisional cast-on.

The joys of being a knitter!


kindle case version 1.0

And what an anti-climax I feel.  Is it normal to feel like you’ve done a rubbish job when you’ve completed your first ever knitting project?  Perhaps it isn’t meant to feel this way when you follow an established pattern and actually get it done the way it’s supposed to, but I went a little further than the average beginner and flung myself in the deep-end, drafting my own pattern and hoping what I envisaged would match the end-result.

peas in a pod

Above is the moment I frequently wish to revisit, if only to stop myself from darning the case on the wrong side… the right side!  Lessons are learnt through mistakes, they say, though it would have been much nicer if I hadn’t learnt this afterwards 😦

front view of the kindle case

As you can see, I incorporated the flap so the case could be closed with three of buttons.  However, the buttonholes are more or less invisible due to the seed stitch border… ah well!

camping, anyone?

Yes, this Kindle case is an incredibly rough diamond – be assured that my perfectionist side is kicking me! – all the same, I am pleased that I managed to finish and didn’t end up with a UFO (UnFinished Object).



strings and buttonholes

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that the first side of my Kindle case is finished at last.  I may have unravelled 3 hours of knitting to correct the seed stitch border (which I knew had gone wrong!), and felt a moment of doubt over whether the case would look good or was even worth doing, but I am now halfway through this blasted knitting project and see the end in sight!

the first side in progress

the first side complete

Through completing this side of the Kindle case, I can see the stitches could have been looser to prevent the border rippling along the bottom and to even out the Irish mesh.  While it bothers me a little that these minor flaws exist (I have half a mind to unravel the lot!), it still looks how I wanted it to look and should look even better once I join the two sides.

Only thing I’m puzzled about is how to close the Kindle case – should it be drawstring, buttons or zipper?  I’m not actually keen on drawstring as I want the case to be smart and ‘mature’ (drawstrings are for kids and really casual possessions!), and with zippers still a mystery to me, I had to go for the buttons.

homeless buttons

These shiny green buttons were salvaged from an old cardigan.  It’s not very clear in the photo, but they’re a dark green, feel very smooth and stylish, and measure 2cm across – perfect for the Kindle case!

I spent last night reading up on buttonholes and think the video by Knittinghelp.com was the easiest to understand.  It shows you the one-row buttonhole, which took me more than one try as I was constantly worried about the seed stitch border and how it would look if I kept on binding off stitches…  In the end, I just simply concentrated on making buttonholes that would match the buttons I had; instead of binding off 3 stitches then casting on 4 like they show you in the video, I settled with binding off 2 then casting on 3.  How the border looks when I do it will be worried about later, I think.

Further to buttonhole research, I also looked into making a flap by reducing the stitches on either side to resemble an envelope (the rectangular flap, not the triangular).  It was too hard reading the instructions at first as I’m more a visual learner and nearly gave up out of sheer irritation (I don’t have the link anymore but whoever wrote those instructions needs to include some pictures!)  But I wanted the flap and I persevered and I figured out how to do one with the seed stitch border.  (More on this later; I might not even do it.)

And someone at work has requested a Kindle case of their own!  I am really very flattered!  (Though I must have looked mortified at the time!)  When she asked me, I wasn’t too sure I could make her one as the prototype has yet to be finished and I want it to be functional before launching it as gifts.  She even offered to buy it from me, but it’s still early days and I don’t know where I stand when it comes to making a profit.

There are knitters out there who are especially protective of their patterns and insist that you don’t change a thing and don’t try to make any money, but where would you stand if you use a common pattern then customise it?  I’ve been writing my pattern for the Kindle case on Notepad and modify the pattern according to what works and what doesn’t, even dating modifications like you would when writing a computer program.  Does that mean this pattern would be mine now, subject to individual copyright, or is it considered a public pattern that you can’t sell to other people?

All of a sudden, knitting seems so complicated!

now i must learn crochet!

But there are three knitters at work now: me, another night-stalker, and the lady who asked me for a Kindle case!  Imagine that!  And the night-stalker gave me a 5.00mm crochet needle in metallic lilac from one of the magazines she buys.  I think it’s called Knit Day, available in Ireland for an upfront subscription of €65.00 a year and stocked by the bookstore Eason.

million dollar gift by ian somers

On the subject of Eason, I bought a debut novel by Ian Somers earlier in the week, Million Dollar Gift.  It follows the adventures of Ross Bentley, a teenage skater with a special ability and winner of a contest where his superhuman powers are displayed to the world.  Somers is new to the writing scene and supported by O’Brien Press, an Irish publishing company with an emphasis on promoting children’s literature written by Irish writers.  The concept of his novel reminds me of the challenge set forth by James Randi, who offered $1 million (USD) to those who could win “The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge” by showing they had genuine paranormal abilities.  I have only read the first chapter, so will write a more detailed review when I’ve completed the novel.


feels like christmas

After visiting the Hickey store this morning, I came away with three types of needles to aid me with my projects:

cable, darning & crochet

The first is a  cable needle required for knitting cables and something I felt would recreate the scarf that Agujas made for her husband.  In my quest to know more, I emailed her for the pattern and received the link for where it all started: The Garter Girl, a blog by Julianne Smith, the brains behind the “Burberry inspired cowl neck scarf”.

To think there are other people out there as driven as me when it comes to saving a fortune… One look at a $750.00 cowl in the Burberry catalogue and Julianne was away, determined to knit her own for a fraction of the price – exactly how I felt after seeing that Lowie cowl.  (Though it seems kind of petty now, stamping my foot over €47.99…)

Anyway!  I’m going to give that pattern a go and use my brand-new darning needles to sew the lengths together.  Once I’ve finished the cowl, I’ll then try a scarf with some tassels on the ends, attached with a crochet needle (4.5mm) which I think is probably too thick, but we’ll see how it goes.

In addition to these goodies are my new knitting needles and two balls of chunky merino wool – evidence that I finally went to Let’s Knit and Stitch.

chunky merino wool by sublime

I went there on my way home from Hickey’s and my experience was no longer than 15 minutes as my stamina was draining fast after a busy time on the Night Shift.  From the outside, the shop looks reasonably big, an impression assisted by a white minimalist sign and a clear window display.  Inside, however, the shop is a bit narrow yet comfortably so.  A table in the centre promotes the latest crafts magazines and a room at the back is reserved for chatting and knitting – where the classes for knitting take place, no doubt.

To be the youngest customer there at the time was frankly challenging for me.  I’m inherently reserved and tend to feel self-conscious as the “only Asian in the village”, but a shop assistant who seemed almost as nervous as I was approached me soon enough, sending me well on my way to buying a couple of chunky yarns with a pair of wooden needles I had often noticed on YouTube.  I even reserved the final yarn they had in the lavender tweed just in case two yarns weren’t enough.  (Let’s hope no one wants it before I do!)

And here’s my Kindle case so far:

work in progress

snug as a bug

While measuring the Kindle, it occurred to me how wrong the case could go without a gauge swatch, a method for counting the number of stitches per inch in accordance with the pattern, type of yarn and the way you generally knit.  Lucky for me, every stitch I’ve been knitting in samples are what you call swatch gauges, and though they’re not very big, they give me an indication of how many stitches I need to cast on against the pattern and yarn that I’m using.  Unfortunately, I forgot to estimate how many pattern repeats I would have to do alongside the measurements, so I am knitting the first half of the case and checking the length by using the Kindle itself.  (Also, I can’t help thinking that my seed stitch border has gone wrong.  It looks fine along the bottom, though it turns all smooth and boring as it climbs up around the edges… is that meant to happen?)

And my photos are getting better, aren’t they, now that I know how to use my bloody camera!  I used to have issues with how bright some of my photos turned out, but there’s this clever little thing called exposure compensation, which enables you to decrease or increase the brightness of the photo before it’s even taken.  I only discovered this feature after consulting the manual; in turn understanding how to focus the lens based on whether the boxes turn red or green (the latter being “focused”).

Feel a bit foolish now…


enmeshed in knitting

pattern challenge # 8: irish mesh

This is my favourite pattern in knitting so far.   There is something so pleasant about making it, even though it isn’t one of the most challenging patterns.  The fact its’s called the Irish Mesh has nothing to do with it.  I just like the look and feel of the fabric produced after hours of leisurely knitting.  And this pattern looks like the one for my Kindle Touch project or possibly a future tote bag.  Wonder if I could line my creation with cotton to make it look extra special…?

By the way, I never did go to Let’s Stitch and Knit; just too shy to do that right now.  Having said that, the more I knit, the more I feel that I understand knitting.  With practice my patterns are coming out a lot neater and I am slowly introducing myself to new techniques as my confidence grows.

A fellow knitter recently visited my blog, so I went and read hers to say “thanks” and found this elegant scarf she made that I really want to try. I even emailed to ask what instructions she used for creating the pattern (those cables look really daunting!)  Hopefully she’ll share her wisdom as that scarf is so accomplished…