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!