Friday, December 27, 2013

And so begin the line-up of Christmas gifts!

Now that Christmas is over and I have given out all the gifts that I made, I have things that I can post again!

I made my nephew a hat for Christmas, but I couldn't find a pattern that I really adored.  So, I combined two of them to try to get closer.  I started off with a P1K1 pattern.  The pattern calls for me to continue this for the entire hat.  There are a couple of things I dislike about that.  First, I think K1P1 is crazy annoying for an entire pattern.  I like to be a bit lazier than that!  Second, I am afraid that all of the stretch that that creates might actually become a problem as the hat gets worn and slightly older - stretching out TOO much.  So I plain knit every other round, which ended up twisting the p1k1 more than I had anticipated.  Not bad, just not expected.

This was the finished result!

If you look really closely there is a change in the texture.  That was definitely unexpected, but I think unless you are actually looking for it, or if you know what you are looking at, you wont notice it while it is on my nephew's head.

I also knit a hat for my niece.  It is definitely too big for her currently, though she didn't pull it off immediately, which is a good sign.

I thought the points that this forms at the top were just too cute for words!

I will be posting more soon!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Working on Christmas presents

I have been working on Christmas presents lately!  Lots of fun.  I thought I would have a second one finished, but found out that I actually need a lot more of the i-cord than I had.  So, that increased my work load.

I have approximately 10 projects to finish between now and Christmas.  Aside from the bunch of i-cord I need to finish for that hat, I also need to just seam up a second present.  Most of them are knitting projects, I think I only have a single project that is crochet.

My little brother asked for a hat that is, sort of, like a knight's helmet with the visor that comes down. You know, the stereotypical helmet like you might find on a suit of armor.  Like the ones in Beauty and the Beast!  In any case.  The only patterns I have found online are patterns that I would have to pay for.  Since I am not interested in paying for that, I am making it up as I go.  It is just a basic beanie without the embellishments to start.  So, I am starting with that and I shall go from there and see if I can't come up with something that looks relatively close to what he is after.

Other than making up a pattern as I make the hat, I think all the other projects I have already have their patterns.  I just need to get to it!  So, with I go!

Monday, November 4, 2013


There are days that I would love to open an Etsy account.   But then I recall how little time I have, how many other projects I have going on, and my fear of not being able to fill or fulfill expectations and I never end up getting anything set up.  About a year ago I started thinking about making a profile to sell from - I bought the yarn for a particular pattern, the first pattern I had ever successfully completed, but the yarn is still sitting here in my home.

I did just pull out a skein, while writing this, and I would start, but I have to be at work in half an hour.  Perhaps I can at least get my beginning chain done so that when I come home I am more tempted to work on it - rather than having to start it.  Yes, I realize that a beginning chain is not really a "start" but sometimes it helps to get me motivated if I can say that I have already started something.  I know, that makes no sense either.  No one ever said I would make sense on my blog!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Spoiler: Christmas gifts!

So, this is my most recently knit toddler hat.  I used DK at the bottom and then a boucle yarn for the top to make it fluffy and soft.  My niece is currently at the in-between stage of hats - too big for a baby size but too small for an adult.  This, technically, fits over my  head.  It just looks odd and not very pretty.  However, I think that on her it will give it a nice slouch and gives room for any hair things she has going on that day! I haven't seen her since I made it, but I am hoping that it will be about the right size for her, plus some stretch for her to grow this winter.

This next piece is actually for her mommy.  She drinks a great deal of tea and asked if I could make her a tea cozy.  So I found a very cute pattern that has detail but nothing crazy.  This pattern works flat and you make two sides.  Now that I am this far in I was wondering how difficult it would be to adjust the pattern to work in the round next time.  It would save from having to seam, and it might give it a cuter look.  As well as being easier.  For now, though, I will complete the pattern as written and I should have it done in plenty of time for Christmas!

This is the chainless half double crochet that I was talking about the other day.  It has a tendency to twist and I am not sure if that is normal in these types of things or not.  I am hoping, and guessing, that as I add more rows it will even itself out and not be too much of a problem.  Anyone have experience with these and know if this is a common occurrence?  Or did I do something wrong?

And my final picture for the day.  This is just a straight double crochet piece.  I am making up the stripes as I go, mostly to add some interest.  Eventually it will be folded into a shoulder bag for my older sister.  The "Masa bag" pattern on Ravelry is what I am pulling it from.

That about covers what I am working on right now.  I have other things that I am thinking about starting, but I want to make sure that I have time to finish these items before I really get into too much else.  I would love to make a baby cardigan for Christmas, but I don't know that I am a fast enough knitter to start that now and have it finished in time.  But, who knows.  We will see where I get to on the tea cozy and the bag and I will play it by ear from there!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I need to knit and crochet faster!

So I think I have finally figured out the chainless foundation half double crochet stitch!  I think this has been one of the harder skills that I have learned, mostly because even with the great videos that are out there it is hard to see exactly where the hook is going in those videos.  I am certainly no expert at it, but I think I have a good enough understanding of it.  And if not, by the time I am finished with the 47 stitches that I will need for the flower that I am working on I should have it down pat!

I have been working my way through Christmas presents and my yarn stash.  I am in the middle of two Christmas presents, I finished and gifted one super early, and I have finished a couple of toddler hats in the past two weeks.  It is hard to see a noticeable difference in the amount of yarn I have, but reason tells me that by making these items and giving them away that I am, in fact, working through it!

I need to get myself together enough to get some more pictures taken and up.  With the number of things I am working on or that I have completed recently I have no good excuse for not having pictures!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I can't do just one project at a time!

So, here is the progress I have made so far on my socks.

Admittedly not very far along.  This portion has been very easy, though the tiny needles still vex me sometimes.  I am just doing a simple pattern - I figured learning sock techniques was enough without mixing in a fancy pattern.  So far they seem nice and stretchy - I am looking forward to getting one done.

Part of the reason I have not worked on them much is because I have been working on hats for my niece, as well as Christmas presents for various family members.  And some fingerless gloves that a friend asked me to make for her.  It was actually one of my very first projects a year ago, and I am finally getting to the second glove.

Both still need thumbs added, but I feel good in getting this pair worked on and, hopefully, completed soon.  

I am still working on whittling down my yarn stash, too.  Though I did buy some sock yarn for the socks, the gloves are yarn I have had for a year, and the couple of baby hats that I have been making are all from things I have had for a while.  So, that is making me rather happy, too.  Feeling like I am cleaning up my home while at the same time making fun and cute things that people will wear is a feeling that I like.  I didn't get a picture of the hat that I made for my niece this weekend.  I had to tear it out 3 times on Sunday and I finally finished it yesterday when I had free time again.  I think I just crochet too tightly - meaning that patterns written for normal crocheters don't fully apply to me, so I end up adding extra rows.  But, I learned that lesson well this weekend, so hopefully I can just begin adding rows sooner and making sure to measure circumference so that I don't have to rip out hats three times!  Measure twice and crochet once?  Something like that.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lacey difficulties

So, this is the baby blanket that I have been working on, on-and-off, for quite a while now.

For my first project that has intentional holes it hasn't gone horribly.  However, I do struggle with keeping the proper number of stitches because it calls for 145, but the pattern V shapes look like their should be 12 in each, plus 6 on each end of the blanket.  So, I often get myself into trouble with that.  Exhibit A of that is here on the second row up, the really wonky section that looks nothing at all like a V shape!  This was pretty early on in the pattern and I still hadn't quite figured out what  I was doing.  I could have ripped it out, but chose not to.

Later, once I had the pattern in my head better, things went quite smoothly, though, as you can see below, there were still some hiccups.  On that row third from the top you can see the bottom of the V pattern is not done correctly.  Once I realized why I was messing up, the 145 stitches vs. 12 per pattern section, I quit from frustration.  I am sure I will get back to it here soon, but does anyone have any suggestions on how to make sense of this in my head? is the pattern that I am using.  Am I just missing something that makes this more difficult than it should be?

Friday, September 20, 2013


So, I have taken the plunge.

I haven't really seen a cause to knit my own socks.  I don't wear socks that often and I don't have a thing for cute socks, so I just never saw a need.  However, while shopping at the Loopy Ewe a couple of weeks ago, I had purchased enough this year to make the Loopy Groupy minimum and I got a free skein of sock yarn.  So I went to Hobby Lobby to pick up a cheap set of needles and while there they had some sock yarn 50% off, so I grabbed some.

All of that to say I have started my first pair of socks. And that I plan to do at least a couple of pairs of socks. I have settled on a very simple pattern of k3p1 just so I can get the hang of making heels, turning the work for the shift from leg to foot and doing toes.  I have some other much cuter patterns that I want to try, too, but I figured I would start simple so that if, and when, I do mess up those new pieces that I haven't ever tried before, the sock will still, hopefully, look ok.

I know that socks are the staple item to knit for some knitters out there.  It isn't so much that I have had anything against making them, but I do insist on making items that I am going to wear.  I know some people who have made tens of shawls but they never wear shawls.  Though I understand the fun of making something like that, I just can't bring myself to make lots of something and spend hours of time making things that I or someone I know is not likely to ever use.  However, the new job has me on my feet for 10+ hours a day, and come winter time I understand that it can get rather cold in our building.  So, aside from the yarn being on sale or free for these, I also think that I might have cause to use them this coming winter.  The pair that I am starting with is a variegated super wash wool with some polyamid, hopefully meaning that I can wash these when they are finished without a problem.  I will take a picture as soon as I get a couple more rows done so that you can see the color.  I only have two rows finished at this point, so you can't really see much coloring yet.  I will get working on it!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Off topic a bit!

So, this is a knitting and crocheting blog.  However, there are times when I think it is appropriate to talk about other things here.  I have done so in the past related to Doctors without Borders and the like.  I have no intention of making any political statements here.

This link is something I think that all people should read and attempt to understand because it says a lot about US culture, which shares many traits with other European and other English speaking nations.  This blog certainly made me cry because I, as a female, have felt some of the feelings that the woman being written about likely felt.  And that is sad, pathetic, and shouldn't have to happen.  So, without further ado

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pulling out projects

Well, hello lovelies!  I hope all is going fabulously in your knitting and crocheting worlds.

I have been doing my best to get back to doing at least a little bit of knitting or crocheting on a daily basis though, of course, there are days that it just isn't going to happen.  Last night I ended up completely pulling out the first about 8 rows of a lace scarf that I had started on a while ago.  It just wasn't turning out nice and evenly.  I am not sure if I was doing something wrong or if the long breaks between rows and working on it were just creating inconsistency in my work, but in either case I couldn't handle it.    I find that sometimes I have to start a project, work on it for a bit until I understand what is actually happening in the pattern, then pull it all out so that I can start again.  That visualization helps me a lot even if it means I have to pull out most projects.  Time consuming but my OCD tendencies appreciate it long term.  Plus at the end I feel like I have a better and more professional looking product.

I was thinking last night that I might try to start working on some items to sell on etsy.  I bought some inexpensive yarn last year and my very first completed crochet project was an ear warmer/headband.  It is something that is super cute and I love wearing it.  I bought more of that same yarn and I might try to make the same pattern.  It is simple but cute and warm.  I wore it when I rode my bike to class during the winter.  Doesn't mess up my hair as much but kept me nice and warm.

Mostly I have been working on larger projects that I don't yet have pictures of.  I am about half way through the baby blanket that I started months ago.  I haven't touched it in probably a month because I just needed a change of pace.  Perhaps I will work on getting pictures of it taken today, including the parts that I really messed up on.  I wouldn't mind just being done with that.  I want to see how it washes up, too.

Oh, something I did do was buy a shelf that has 9 little cubby holes.  I have put most of my yarn (it doesn't all fit) into that so that I can easily see what I have.  Plus it is up off the floor and makes for a cleaner look to my apartment.  I am working on paring down my stash because I really don't need NEARLY the amount of yarn that I have.  I have been good about not going and looking at more yarn for quite a bit - I have probably only purchased about 4 skeins of yarn in the past 6 months or so.  So at least I have stopped increasing my stash, at least!  I will get a picture of that shelf to put up here, as well.  I just need to knit and crochet faster so that I can work through all of this at a more reasonable pace!

I hope all is well in your worlds. I will work on getting some pictures taken today of the various things happening in my needle-art world!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Chemo" blankets

I have been meaning to post for a while but I am still trying to figure out how to balance my new work schedule with having time to myself while still getting a chance to go out with friends, so I apologize!  I did take quite a break in my crafting - again, I just had too many things on my plate.  I am starting to get into a rhythm of things and I am trying to be better about doing some of the things I love, which includes posting here!

I have to admit, I am posting today because I have a complaint.  I was looking through Ravelry last night and today and I ran across more blankets that have been called "chemo" blankets.  Now, I understand the need for a blanket during a chemo session - my mother died of cancer when I was 21, and I often took her to these appointments.  She had been going for years.  So I am not attempting to minimize the purpose behind the blankets.  However, by calling them chemo blankets, when, from all that I can see they are simply throw blankets, it seems like a call for attention and sympathy.  And that honestly drives me nuts.  It makes people comment sympathetic things, buy a pattern simply for the sympathetic overtones, or use a pattern because it is a throw blanket with another name.  There are millions of people around the world with cancer and most of us know someone who is or has gone through chemotherapy.  Again, I understand the need for a blanket during those sessions.

Is there any purpose behind calling a blanket a "chemo" blanket other than someone seeking attention or playing the sympathy card?  I am interested in hearing responses and part of me expects that there will be some backlash about it.  I am genuinely interested in knowing if there is something different about these blankets/patterns that makes them different than other throw blankets and deserving of another name.  I realize that this is something silly to be annoyed about, yet every time I see these blankets I am annoyed.  I'm not a fan of needless and obvious grabs for attention from anyone.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Slow time in my crafting...

It has been just about forever since I last posted!  I had my little sister's wedding soon after my last post, then I was ending and leaving a job.  Then I took a week stay-cation and today I started my new job!  I'm staying with family because my training is happening about an hour and 15 minutes away from my home, but only about 20 minutes away from where they live.  I am working 47+ hours a week.  So, for now, I am trying to figure out a temporary schedule and, very unfortunately, that doesn't leave a whole heck of a lot of time for knitting or crocheting!  Once I get back home I hope that it will settle down and that I will have a more consistent schedule that I can keep to.  Don't get me wrong, I am having lots of fun hanging out with family, the past 7 years, but especially the past two, I haven't had much of a chance to just spend time with them on a regular basis. So this is kinda making up for lost time, it's good!

I have a couple of patterns that I am still working on, and there is a crochet hat that I would like to make.  I'm not sure that I have yarn for it with me, so it might have to wait until I get back to my place.  On the up side, now that I am talking about it, I am feeling in the mood to get some of my projects worked on.  The magic loop project is still going well, though it is somewhat slower than I would prefer.  I know that some of it is just the need for practicing the technique and just becoming comfortable with it, so I am not too upset about it.  Perhaps I will work on a project or two tonight!

I haven't done any crocheting in quite a while, perhaps I need to get back into that for a bit.  I seem to go in waves where I do all of one or the other types of projects - either all knitting or all crochet.  Not that that is a bad thing, I just want to make sure that I don't get so into one that I lose my skill in the other.  So, maybe to get working on my older sister's Christmas gift!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Magic looping

I am continuing with my magic loop project.  I am making this (and I can make a plug for a fellow blogger)  I am going to have to modify the sleeves some because my wrist is certainly not the same width as my upper arm.  Even with the stretchyness of stockinette, I am quite sure I will need more room, so I will be doing some increases as I get farther along.

Part of what I love about magic loop now, given that I have to figure out where and when to put in increases is the fact that I can put the piece onto the long cable and try it on easier, by far, than I ever could with DPNs.  So that part is really nice.  I know I wont lose stitches and I can get the item to fit me exactly how I want it to without having to guess.

I admit, there is a learning curve.  It isn't so much that it is difficult to use magic loop, I just have to remember where I am in the work and where I need to move the active stitches so that I am not just going back and forth over the same side.  Basically I just have to pay attention to what I am doing and where my yarn is coming from.  It is not difficult, I just have to pay attention.  Getting the yarn where I want it after moving my stitches is also a trick that I am still working on.

Overall I like the technique.  I think once I get used to working with it I wont have many long-term difficulties.  As long as I am paying attention to what and where I am knitting it is turning out great so far!

I really enjoy learning new techniques, especially when they work!  I will have to work on thumb gussets more, since they didn't turn out how I wanted.  But this, so far, is going really well for me!  I will get a picture up of this, but it will probably be after the weekend.  Family stuff going on that will keep me super busy!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New projects, new techniques!

Sorry it has been so very long!  This month has gotten out of hand for me!  Weddings and birthdays and job stuff and everything!

So, lets just jump right in!  I have gone a couple of times to knit night, which has been FABULOUS!  Last week I finished up a fingerless glove for my niece, and over the weekend I managed to finish the second one.  I had never done thumb gussets before this.  They turned out alright.  I am trying not to beat myself up over them too much.  I have holes where they connect to the main body of the glove.  I do have some yarn still connected to the piece to sew those up a bit.  I know that it is normal to have some hole between the two, but these are excessive.

These have not been washed or blocked.  I am hoping that that will help some with the curling and the small sizing problems that exist.  I used DK weight superwash wool, so I think they are going to turn out just fine.  Overall I really like the pattern.  I did modify it and only did 7 rows of increases rather than the 9 called for because with 9 rows of increase the end of the gloves that fits around my arm seemed too lose.  So 7 rows did the trick and seems to have worked quite well.  The way she has the increases done - by lifting the bar between stitches, does leave a hole.  I decided I was alright with it because it does add a decorative element to it.  I'm not positive I will use it in the future, though.  We'll have to see.

I did these completely on sharp DPNs.  For that reason they took me a while.  It was less the difficulty of using them rather than the fact that I felt it was quite annoying to use them - if that makes sense.  They also hurt my fingers after a while because I knit so tightly that I sometimes have to work to push the stitches off the needles.  I think I am going to make my next pair using magic loop.

Speaking of magic loop, I randomly decided to try it last night.  I was looking for a nice one-skein pattern and I found one that I have been wanting to make.  But, it called for the same size DPNs that I had used to make the gloves.  I was tired of them so I set the pattern aside.  Then it dawned on me that this was the perfect pattern, because it is few stitches but a long stockinette pattern, to try the magic loop on.  I have only gotten about 2 inches into the pattern, and there is a small learning curve to doing magic loop, but so far the stitching looks uniform and nice and it doesn't hurt my fingers nearly as much!  It is fabulous!  I think I will use this for most of my small circular items in the future - hopefully it will make them go much quicker for me because I don't procrastinate!

The pattern for the fingerless gloves I found pretty soon after I started knitting last fall.  I decided I wanted to make them for my older sister for Christmas.  I started the pattern but I did not finish the first glove until a month ago, when I decided I had to finish these red glove for my niece because she would be visiting from across the country.  So, I might try to do the next glove in this same magic loop, we'll have to see!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mindless projects

I have been making even more wine bottle carriers, I have 3.5 left to do.  Then I think I am going to quit these for a while.  I haven't worked anymore on the baby blanket, though I think I will soon.  Same with my niece's fingerless gloves.  I just haven't been feeling like actually thinking about or focusing on counting.  So I have been doing the super easy no-counting-needed wine bottle carriers.

Do you have a favorite pattern that you turn to when you don't want to think?  When you just want to feel like you are accomplishing something but don't want to work on a new pattern, or count, or whatever the case may be?  If so, list it here!  I'm interested, and I am sure others are, too!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hooray for completion!

So, I finally finished my little shrug!  I ended up having to frog an entire row because it was just too big.  I also attached the arms slightly differently because it was still too big around my arms.  I think if I were to do it again I would stop the increases at the end of the rows earlier.  I think that that would solve the problem, but I didn't want to rip out 5 or 6 rows and have to redo it all.

The other night I was also working on the baby blanket that I am knitting.  I did screw up pretty big time on that, but I don't know how, and don't want to, frog back to that to get it to work correctly.  Luckily it is just a repeating pattern so when I have finished this section I can get back on track without a problem.  It will just have to live with being rather imperfect.  It will annoy me forever, I am sure,  but I highly doubt that most people will even notice unless I point it out.   So, I won't point it out, except maybe on here! Perhaps someone can tell me if this mess up is fixable or not.

I am also working on fingerless gloves for my older niece.  I promised them back at Christmas, and I am finally getting around to making them for her before she comes out for my sister's wedding.

A super cute basketweave-type pattern on the front.  And on the back just plain stockinette:

As you can see I am using DPNs to make them.  I am not a huge fan, and I might eventually try this in a magic loop.  The needles in this just seem to always be in the way, and I have sharps, so they often hurt my fingers after a bit.  It would be interesting to see if the magic loop makes this an easier pattern for me to complete and finish.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Ah, such a slacker!

I have been slacking on here!  I finished my shrug, but right now I am feeling too lazy to go take a picture of it.  I am also working on a pair of fingerless gloves for my niece that I promised her at Christmas, oopsie!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hooks and stuff!

So, I currently have on needles or hooks the following projects: house slippers (crochet), a shoulder shrug (crochet), a baby blanket (knit), fingerless gloves (knit), a wine bottle carrier (knit), and a washcloth (crochet). I think that this might be the fewest projects I have had in the works in a while, which is kinda sad.

On the other hand, I like that I can go from one project to another when I get bored or frustrated with one.  I can also go back and forth between knitting and crochet, again for the same reason.  Even within items that are all crochet or all knit they are very different projects, again giving me a lot of variety.

For instance, the house slippers are made using an J sized crochet hook, the teal colored one.  

As you can see it is larger than the hook next to it.  In comparison the shoulder shrug uses an H hook, considerably smaller (the smaller pictured hook in gold).  That means that even though I am making similar movements they are different because the size of the hook dictates the size of the loops and how much movement I have to do to make it all work.  These patterns also use different stitches.  The slippers are using almost exclusively a half double crochet (hdc) whereas the shoulder shrug uses a double crochet (dc).

The different sized hooks make different sized stitches.  The larger, naturally, make larger stitches which can be beneficial for a large item or one where you want larger holes for whatever reason.  Crochet hooks range massively in size.  The finest (which I didn't take a picture of) are used for lace and other very small scale items.  The larger ones are used for clothing items and larger items.

Here you can see the difference in sizes.  These are kind of the "normal" or most commonly used sizes for most people.  The gold one, the "H" hook is probably the most used hook just because it makes stitches that are a nice size for a lot of different projects.  However, they go well beyond this size.

It is hard to see just how much bigger the bottom hook is, but it is significantly larger.  That is an "S" sized hook - I have used it to crochet a border with 4 strands of yarn on a throw blanket.  The other two between the full metal hooks and the S hook are "L" and "M" hooks.  I have used each a few times, sometimes for a starting chain because I tend to chain too tightly (which often is what starts a piece of crochet work)!  

Patterns will almost always indicate which size hook that you should use to achieve the same look as the item in the pattern.  However, depending on each person some people crochet tighter/smaller stitches with the same sized hook than others.  So you have to check your "gauge" which is how many stitches you have per inch.  I tend to have rather tight/small stitches so I often have to use a hook of a slightly larger size to achieve the same desired look.  

When I first started all I purchased was a size "H" hook.  Once I realized that I really liked crocheting I went ahead and bought a basic set which included all of the hooks from sizes "D" to "J".  I got most of the others from thrift stores as single items because it is, naturally  significantly cheaper.  I will show off my knitting needles some other time, almost all of which I purchased exclusively at thrift stores.

In the meantime, hopefully that helps some (like my brother) who doesn't understand it when I say that I used an "S" hook to make big stitches so it went quickly.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Knit night!

So, I have to tell you about the knitting group that I have.  They are all fabulous, wonderful ladies and I haven't been able to see them since January because I had school on knitting night.  It should have been a crime!  Alas.  Tomorrow will be my first night back since that, yay!

When I run into snags I can always go to them and ask for help and someone is always willing to show me or help me.  I admit, I got super lucky with accidentally finding this group.  I was about to head down to my dads, an hour and a half away from me, and I stopped into this store one Thursday evening around 5.  A couple of ladies were knitting on a couch there, and there were other chairs.  I asked if I could sit down and I was told absolutely.  I pulled out some stuff that I had been working on - at this point I had only been knitting for 2 or 3 weeks.  I had read about some people who were yarn snobs and who had big problems with others using acrylic yarn.  So, though I am not usually a nervous person, I nervously asked if it was going to be a problem for me to use acrylic yarn.  I said that I had purchased it and my needles at the thrift store, but I didn't want to be shunned.  Rather than that the most fabulous woman got up and said oh here, have these and she gave me about 7 skeins of yarn - cotton, wool, some acrylics, etc.  She had apparently won them (correct me if I am wrong, my dear) and she very sweetly and graciously told me to use them well.

Since that point I became a regular at the shop on Thursday nights.  I have gotten lots of help on things that I wasn't sure how to do - knitting in the round, puff stitches, and the like.  I have to say that, aside from the fact that I was quickly obsessed with knitting and crocheting, these ladies have kept me interested and seeing their fun projects and their skill is really inspiring.  They told me how some of the things that I had done, even prior to joining, were well beyond what most beginners do.  Needless to say that was a nice ego boost.  I didn't know that some of the things I had done were hard because I had taught myself through online videos and so I didn't know what was supposed to be hard or not.

There are certainly still many, MANY things that I haven't tried or that I don't do well.  I am still scared of socks and the flap thingie or whatever.  I haven't yet tried any blouses or sweaters in large part because shifting from the main body of the piece to an arm worries me. Anything that has that type of shift from knitting in one direction to another scares me. I have only just begun to use decorative yarn overs for the baby blanket I am slowly working on.  So far they have turned out really well and the blanket is going to be super cute when I finish it.  Though I have a fingerless glove made I have not yet pulled out the knitted in waste yarn to start making the finger gusset.  I have also not mastered the skills of changing yarn colors or skeins with non-wool yarns, though I kind of make due.  There are other techniques I want to try that I just haven't found a pattern to use them on.  But, all of these things will come with time, I know.  I try to focus on one new skill at a time, become comfortable with it, and then move on to something else.  I am sure that by the end of this baby blanket I will be fine with knitting yarn overs and the particular decrease that this blanket calls for.

In each of the new skills that I learn there are plenty of mistakes.  But as soon as I realize what I was doing wrong I can generally figure out what is wrong and how to fix it.  I generally don't bother going and fixing it, for a number of reasons (in the baby blanket I am worried about the yarn overs getting lost and the decreases being too difficult to get back together) but I usually figure it out after only a few rows and then the rest of the piece is just fine.  My anal side really doesn't like the mistakes, but I am learning to accept them and, because I do learn and I don't make that same mistake again, I just accept that that is part of hand knitting.

So, even with my OCD tendencies I can accept the fact that I am a beginning knitter, that I will and do make mistakes because I then learn from those mistakes and I don't make them again.  And I really like that.  It keeps my brain functioning without having to read 3 entire books in a week, ha!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Best way to improve knitting?

I have been a bit all over the place today with knitting and crocheting.  I have done two more rows on the baby blanket which makes 12 total of something like 145, ha!  I have also been working on the shrug that I mentioned and posted about yesterday, and I have done a couple of rows on my next wine bottle carrier.  Needless to say, none of them are finished, but I have made progress on all of them.

I'm still trying to figure out good ways to get better at knitting, aside from just doing it all the time.  I am about to start trying to knit with some fingering yarn (really skinny yarn that is often used for socks), which I haven't ever done before.  I am not sure if it is more useful to knit with all sorts of things to get better or if it is better to stick with worsted and get good with that before moving on.  Either way, I am having a lot of fun, but I would be interested to hear opinions of those in the know!

I went for a mani/pedi today that a friend treated me to and now I don't wanna mess up my beautiful nails!  They look so fun when I am knitting and crocheting with them, though!  In any case it was super relaxing and just a good time hanging out with her and a couple of other friends.  A great way to finish off my last semester of school, probably ever!  Unless I get a wild hair again that makes me wanna go for a PhD.  Forget underwater basket weaving, though!  I wanna do knitting or crocheting!

So many projects, so little time!!  In other news, I still haven't heard back about the job, so I don't know yet if I can afford pretty yarn or not.  I will keep you updated!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wine bottle carriers, finally!

Well, I finished up that batch of wine-bottle carriers!  Super excited!  I have started on some more, I think I have four left to make.

Some of them turned out slightly different than the others, but I think it is a result of the type of yarn.  The light blue one is still taller than all the rest, and perhaps the skinniest, though it is still large enough to fit a bottle of wine into.

I am contemplating on making these and trying to sell them on Etsy.  I need to double check with the woman who wrote the pattern, to make sure that she wont mind my doing that.  In the meantime I am really having tons of fun making them to give away as gifts!

I am also getting farther along on the little shrug that I am making.  I am making it in bright blue.  I don't usually wear blue as I think it brings out some nice dark circles under my eyes, ha!  However, a friend has convinced me to give it a second chance, so I am making this in bright blue, in part because I already had this dk weight yarn that I ended up not using for the project it was purchased for.

Obviously I haven't gotten really far along on it, but I'm moving in the right direction!  I hope it turns out as cute as the pattern looks, I am excited to get to wear it!

Other than that, I haven't really undertaken anything new.  I do need to start working on the patterns that I have mentioned on here before.  Hhmm, perhaps I will start thinking about that tonight!  Lets see if I can get some creative juices flowing!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I love making progress on projects!

I'm about half way through the last of the 5 wine-bottle carriers that I am making for my girlfriends.  This is a picture of one in progress, three completed but not felted, and then the one that I had completed earlier.

I hope to work on getting these felted tomorrow, though I am not sure that they will be dry enough to give away on Friday afternoon.  We'll have to see!  After this I have 4 more to make - one for me, one for each of my sisters, and one for the woman letting me use her washer all the time!  Haha.  I think I might take a break from them for a day or two before jumping back in.

I have been spending entirely too much time on Ravelry lately and I have about 500 patterns that I would like to make - yet another reason I need to knit faster!  I am starting to get my stash under control - almost everything I have now fits into a basket.  So I need to finish a baby blanket, and keep going on these wine bottle totes and I should be down to a reasonable level.

Once I have these totes done I am going to work on a new pattern for a little lovey.  It is an idea I have had for months now, but I just haven't had the time or the brainpower to put towards it.  When I figure out how I want it and whatnot I will post it on Rav and I will put the link here.

I interviewed for the job that I really want, I wont hear back until next Monday about it, though.  So I am anxiously awaiting word there.  If that happens, after some more basic necessities, I will be able to buy more yarn!  Which, of course, means knitting faster so that I can get to that yarn!

I have already begun brainstorming for Christmas presents, besides the girls.  I still haven't settled completely on which pattern each will receive, but I sure am having fun trying to decide!

Speaking of which, the clutch that I felted in the two tones of brown - I am not completely sure how to get even and straight cuts into each side for the handle.  And on the one that felted really small, can I just sew in a zipper and/or a lining for that?  I have seen some that have a lining but I am having difficulties finding good instructions for it.  Anyone here have a good suggestion on where I might find some of that information?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wine bottle carriers (without pictures yet, sorry!)

Well, I am almost done with my last assignment, aside from grading for my students, and then I will be done!

What that means is more time for knitting and crocheting.  Perhaps, just perhaps, that means I will get my wish and be a faster knitter!

Speaking of fast knitting, at least for me, I now have 3.5 of the wine bottle carriers made for my friends.  I have still only felted the first one.  I figure I will just felt the rest of them at the same time hopefully on Tuesday or Wednesday.  I am super excited to get them finished!  I will do my best to get a picture of all of them together - each is a different color combo.  I am really excited both about the felting part of it but also that I am putting yarn to good use!  I really can't buy more yarn until I get through some of the massive amounts that I already have.  Plus I can't afford it, anyway.  So hooray for already having yarn to play with!

Now that I am about done with school my job search is kicking into high gear again.  I have found a new restaurant job, since my other restaurant closed, so at least I will be able to pay rent.  I am just worried about when student loans come due.  But enough about that!

I will try to get some pictures up soon.  With this pattern I learned how to cast on to give an item a flat bottom while still being able to knit the body of the item in the round.  It is a super simple pattern but really nice and quick, because it is knit in the round and so I just keep knitting until I have enough.  I love simple patterns for when I am watching TV.  I feel more productive than if I was just watching TV and I can still enjoy some of that junk :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Can I just be an amazing knitter yet? So impatient!

So, I finished knitting a second version of my door stopper.  This is it prior to felting, about 54" long.  I paid a lot more attention to its size as it shrunk in felting.  I fully closed one side of the tube, and half closed the other side so that they would felt that way and I would have to do less seaming afterwards.

I don't have a picture of it yet because it is still drying before I put the beans in it to fill it up.  However, I shrunk it to 36" long, to match the width of my front door.  It is a little wider than I might prefer, but I am sure that it will be fine.

I am really interested in felting these days, though I have concerns when I am doing it.  I want to felt a couple of bags for Christmas gifts this year.  Perhaps after all of the practice I will have in felting these wine bottle holders for my friends will give me some more confidence and I will just have more experience in knowing what to look for.

I really want to be a faster knitter.  I have so, so many patterns that I am dying to try.  I just can't seem to get there fast enough!  I know I have only been knitting and crocheting for 9 months, but gosh darnitt I wanna be amazing already!  Chop chop!  Hahah.

I also really want to try a bunch of different dresses and skirts.  Part of the problem with those, of course, is the yarn itself.  I fully understand why natural yarn is expensive.  However, that doesn't make it any less frustrating for me!  So I am doing my best to make due, to check Craigslist and shop just the sales.  It does mean that I can't buy from the local shops for the time being, though.  I have two sweaters from the thrift store that I am pulling apart.  I am thinking of using some of the yarn to work on a skirt in the green and a dress in the purple.  I figure when I run out of the purple yarn I can create an accent in white cotton, which I already have, and make it look cute that way.  But, we'll see how it goes!

I think I have kept up with pictures on here of my projects, but in case I have missed some I also have them on Rav under my profile 'hopesndreams' if you want to check them out over there.  As I think I have mentioned before, too, I have my first pattern up there as well for a bedside rug.  Bedside Rug  Right there in fact!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A quickie

I have been such a slacker in posting, so sorry!

I have begun making wine-bottle totes which I think I am going to give to each of my girlfriends that I am graduating with in a week and a half.  So I have a bunch of work to get done before that.  I have one finished, and I am working on a second.  I will then felt them all and hopefully have some really cute gifts for them.

Other than that I am working on school stuff, working, and trying to find a job.  I have taken some pictures recently, I will try to get them up later today.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Can I buy yarn yet?

So, in a couple of weeks I am graduating with my master's degree.  I have one 20 page paper left to write and I have about 100 final essays to grade.  And then I am done.  Needless to say, I am super excited.

I have applied for a couple of different jobs out at Interweave - I think it would be amazingly fun and very exciting!  I unfortunately haven't heard back from either position, though I think I meet all of the desired qualifications to a T.  I will keep my eye open on more job openings down there, though.  It would be a blast!

I am hoping that as I, hopefully, find a grownup job that I will also be able to afford more fun and exciting yarns!  At work yesterday I was playing around on Ravelry, of course, and found a couple of very ambitious dress patterns that I wanted to try.  The yarn for one is discontinued so I was trying to look around for other options.  They are, of course, more expensive than I can afford now, but it would be fun to make these dresses sometime in the future when I can afford them.

I had a post much earlier on about not being a yarn snob. That is still true.  I will happily knit with acrylic or a variety of other man-made yarns.  I happen to love some of my professional made nylon and rayon items.  So why wouldn't I use that in my knitting?  However, when I am able to afford other types of yarn, the slightly more expensive items, I have no objection to using those for items that I am willing to spend more money on.  So, hopefully something will come through and I will have a job that allows me some money for fun things.  I can only hope, keep your fingers crossed for me!

I have finished the first fingerless glove of a pair that I started well before Christmas.  I am not a huge fan of working on DPNs, which is why it has taken me so incredibly long to finish just the first glove.  However, I am now moving onto a second pair, without finishing the first pair, so that when my niece visits in June I can give her a pair I promised.  I am making this pair with some yarn I "spurged" on, some DK Cascade superwash.  My niece asked for a pair in red, so I come some pretty deep red yarn for this pair of gloves.  I think they will look super cute.

Other than that I have just been working on a second draft stopper so that I can use that needle for another project I want to get done.  So just knitting along for now.  I had some friends ask me last night to teach them to crochet, so I will have to figure out something to teach them with.  I know of a flower that uses just about every basic stitch their is.  So perhaps that!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Felting results

So, I had a chance to felt my purses the other day.  I learned a TON, hah!  So, lets start with the before picture, just as a reminder.

So the knit bag is on the left and the single crochet bag on the right.  As you can see the knit is just slightly wider than the crochet, but because it is felted, that doesn't matter.  They were both 10" high from bottom to top, plus the base which wasn't very wide.

Last night I put both into a pillow case, tied it up (to keep the loose fibers from getting into the machine) and put them on a hot/warm washing cycle.  This was a top loading washer with a center agitator.  The hot water loosens up the fibers so that they are open to one another, and the agitation makes the little microscopic hooks within the wool fiber catch together and result in shrinking the item.  That is what I wanted it to do.  Every few minutes I checked to check on the progress.  What I think I failed to do was check on both of them every time.  This is the final result.  The knit bag is on the left, the crochet on the right.

As you can see...I screwed up.  Apparently stockinette-stitch knit items felt A LOT faster than single crocheted items.  I should have taken out the knit bag much earlier, or I should have felted them separately.  So, that is a good thing to know.  The crochet bag isn't exactly what I was hoping for, but it is close.  I'm not positive if I screwed up on that one or if that is just how it comes out. I expected it to be slightly wider, I suppose.  The crochet bag shrunk, length wise, about an inch.  The knit bag shrunk about 3.  Either way the crochet bag it is cute and nicely sized.  I am thinking about turning the smaller one into a wallet - adding a zipper or something so that stuff doesn't fall out.  But we'll see.  When I decide I will show you that, too.

In any case this was a really good learning experience and I will take away lots of lessons from my mess up.  I am slightly annoyed, but I can't really beat myself up too much over it.  Things happen.  And honestly, I only need one bag, I only made the second because I had more yarn.  If I wanted I could make yet another because I still have plenty of yarn left over.  I will think about it!

In the same load I decided to put the new baby bonnet that I made as well.  It was exceedingly stiff and kind of rough.  I didn't add any detergent, just the hot water.  Apparently it was enough to "kill" the acrylic, because now the hat is floppy and super soft.  Killing acrylic yarn is what you do rather than blocking.  Because it isn't wool it wont keep its shape (especially in stockinette) unless you kill it.  I have heard of people using an iron over top of a piece to kill the acrylic - apparently washing in super hot water has a similar effect.  Also a great thing to know!  Now the item that I "killed" in the wash wasn't in stockinette stitch.  I am not positive that it will turn out the same way, I will have to test it some time.  But in the meantime I am really happy with how it softened up the baby bonnet, now it is super cute and soft enough for baby.  

This is where a baby head goes!
This is the opposite side view.  The circular pattern actually goes up onto the baby head, otherwise it would not come up far enough on the head.  I will try to get a baby to put this on so that you can understand a bit better, perhaps.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lazy Sunday

Well, I am sitting here thinking about what I want to write about.  I did finish a new baby bonnet, though I used the wrong size yarn so it turned out larger than I wanted/expected.  It is still super cute.

I haven't learned any new tips or tricks today.  My inspiration (read: my niece) came to visit me today, though she was not overly thrilled at my holding her.  Little does she know that I am the favorite!  Haha.  Her momma did give me some crap today about the amount of yarn I have.  Oopsie!  I said that it was just a result of my inability to knit and crochet quickly.  So I need to work on that, obviously!

Oh!  So, I have this nifty little over the shoulder bag that is about 6"x7" with a zipper.  I can throw the strap over myself across my chest so that I don't have to worry about losing it.  Now, I tend to like small purses, but this is honestly a touch small for most things I prefer.  However, when I go out to the bar, or when I go somewhere that I wont have a place to put a purse, it is perfectly sized.  That doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, it really is nice to not have to worry about keeping track of a purse.

The problem with the one that I have is that it is blue.  That is all fine and good, except that I almost never wear blue.  I want one in black or brown or off-white, or a color that I wear a lot.  So, I think I am going to attempt another pattern so that I can make a similar bag of similar dimensions in the color that I want!  I know how I basically want it to look, I just have to figure out how to get that look, as well as a lining (I think - depends on what kind of stitch I end up going with) to work.  So, at some point in the future I will have that posted up on to Ravelry.  When I do i'll let you know!  I think I will try to keep the same dimensions, including the strap length.  It appears to be a crocheted item, but I think they used thread.  I am going to probably try it with some DK, just because making an entire purse out of crochet thread sounds miserable.  I will let you know how it goes!

I think I might try to work on the baby blanket tonight some.  That will force me to learn how to yarn over in knitting, as well as a new decrease that I have never done.  I don't have much else to say, so I will just keep this short tonight.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Blankets to keep me warm

Well, I finally got some pictures of the two throw blankets that I made in January or February!

I made both from the same pattern - they each require the use of very large needles (size 50) and stitches are made holding 4 strands of thick yarn, rather than a single strand as you normally hold for a stitch.  They stretch a lot, which I actually really like.  They are stretchy because they are in stockinette stitch, and they shrink or stretch depending on how you put them down.  They are heavy in terms of weight and they are warm, but they don't get me too hot, which I really like.  When I pull one over me the weight of the blanket on itself ends up forming around me really nicely.  I enjoy them a lot!

I know that I have mentioned stockinette stitch on here before, but this is a pretty good example of it.  In stockinette all of the "V" shaped stitches are on one side of the item.  So especially in the purple one above you can see each of the little "v" stitches.  On the other side of stockinette you see little bumps or ridges.  I know it is kind of difficult to tell in the pictures below, but one side you can see the "v" shapes and the other side you can see the bumps.  The "v" side is considered the right side of a work (though depending on how you want something to look this doesn't mean that it has to be on the outside).  Naturally, the other side is the wrong side.   

 Because I had to hold 4 strands of yarn together I decided to mix the colors up.  I couldn't decide if I wanted a pink or a green or a purple blanket, so I mixed and matched and made a second blanket!  This way I have a blanket for my couch and one for my big chair and I don't have to move it back and forth, haha!

The pattern called for the short edges to be given fringe.  But, a) I don't like much fringe and b) this yarn doesn't seem like it would be good for fringe.  Instead I stopped before I completely ran out of yarn and I did two single crochet rows around the edges.  This helps them to lay flatter because stockinette stitch will always curl in on itself, especially on a flat piece - it is just the nature of the stitch.  So this helps with the curl problem.  Plus, it gives me a spot to grab on to to pull under me when I am snuggling down.  On each corner rather than just doing one stitch I did three to get all the way around without making it pinch or pull.

These are by far my largest projects in terms of finished size.  However, they went pretty quick because, as I said, I used 50mm needles to make them.  I keep meaning to get a post up here about needles and hooks and the various sizes, I need to get on that!