Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 4: Where are they now?

Today's post is a reflection on what has become of one (or more) of your knitted items.  Most of my knitted items end up for myself, my mom, my sister, my friend Carly, or my husband.  Very few knitted items make it out of that circle.  I also tend to only knit things for other people if they have requested them.  I was going to write a post about the three clapotises (clapoti??) that I knit, but I wasn't able to get pictures of all of them.  I initially knit one for myself and then my mom and sister wanted one.  Maybe that will be a story for another post. 

However, I do have a picture of my calorimentry.  I knit this around April 2007, just about 4 years ago now, but it only recently got a home!  This was a super fun and super fast knit.  The colors of the noro are great in this piece and I love them to death, but it wasn't something that I pictured myself wearing.  So, I never did wear it.  I didn't even put the button on it.  However, when my sister spied this piece last December, her mind was set and she called it hers.  I sewed a button on calorimetry on the spot!  She immediately put it on and when her time to leave came, calorimetry went with her.  I didn't get any photos of her wearing it (well, I did get some with my phone, but the quality is crappy at best).  But, I'm happy that my calorimetry finally found a home.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 3: Tidy mind, tidy stitches

My go-to knitting pile of late
Today's topic for Knitting & Crochet Blog week is about organization.  I'm not sure where I fall on the organization spectrum, but I'd guess somewhere in the middle.  I think that is called being semi-organized.  What I do have organized is that books are with books, magazines are with magazines, yarn is with yarn, etc, however it is not all in the same place.  It is scattered throughout the apartment.  I'm not sure I'm at fault for not being organized though.  We've moved quite a bit in the last two years, so I think I'm going to blame that.  Another issue is that we live in an apartment, so our space is limited.  In an ideal world I would have a craft room and it would be my space to organize and be creative in. 

Corner of coffee table that perpetually has knitting notions
The biggest thing that has helped me with organization has been ravelry.  A couple of years ago Mr. SpiderKate (who is making quite a few appearances in this blog as of late) prompted me to take pictures of my yarn and put it on ravelry in my stash.  I thought that it would help me figure out what to do with the yarn since a lot of it was bought just because with only an inkling of an idea of what I was going to knit with it.  Putting the stash into ravelry did help, but it has helped a lot more recently since they've added the "yarns idea" tab.  Love that tab!!!  Ravelry has also prompted me to take more pictures of my knitting and has definitely given me a space to write notes about projects.  In the beginning I didn't write a lot of notes, but I know that this year I have been taking copious amounts of notes on projects - especially projects that I've adapted to work with the yarn I picked or the amount of yarn that I had available.

1 of 2 bookshelves dedicated to knitting books/magazines

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 2: Skill + 1UP

Today's blog topic is about what you have learned about and from knitting over the years.  It suggests looking at different projects and commenting on what you've learned. One project immediately comes to mind - The Swallowtail shawl.  Let me say that again.  The Swallowtail shawl.  Prior to this shawl I had only knit one other shawl - The Forest Canopy Shawl.  I'm not sure what made me want to knit the Swallowtail shawl, I mean besides the beauty of it, but it probably had to do with the fact that (at the time) it seemed like everyone was knitting it.  I also happened to have a skein of Alpaca with a Twist Fino in the gorgeous burgundy red color show in the picture.  Why did I have the skein of yarn and was it always intended for this shawl? The answer to those questions are "I bought it because it was pretty."  Yes, the answer to both question is that I bought it because it was pretty. 

I bought this particular skein back in 2006 or 2007 during a time when a friend of mine, also named Kate, and I did quite a bit of knitting together and if we weren't knitting, then we were buying yarn for knitting or stash purposes.  Then around 2009 I started looking at this beautiful yarn and thinking that it would work well for the Swallowtail shawl AND it didn't hurt that I also had a pair of Addi Lace Turbo circular needle in just the size for this shawl.  So, I cast on and started knitting away.  I knit this whole shawl from the written directions (which were available by this time, initially I don't believe that they were available).  I did not follow one single chart for this pattern.  In fact, I couldn't even have imagined myself EVER following charts for a pattern.  Shortly after completing this shawl, I started knitting a lace scarf where I was forced to use the charts (the written instructions had errors).

I'm not sure I can even put into words all that I learned knitting this shawl.  I think that the biggest lessons involved understanding knitting and what a knitted piece is doing, if that makes sense.  I learned to tell when I had made an error in the stitch count just by realizing that the stitch I was doing wasn't right.  You know when you are knitting and suddenly the pattern doesn't seem right?  Well, it probably isn't right because you might have miscounted a stitch or similar error and you are off in where you should be - I learned to trust when I had this feeling that it was the right feeling.  Instead of blindly continuing to knit the incorrect pattern, I was able to stop and either fix the mistake right there or back knit (aka rip) to where I had made the mistake in that row.  I was also scared of having to do the nupps - something else I had never done before.  But, the Internet is a wonderful thing and I quickly found videos online that showed clearly how to do them and they weren't that scary or hard at all!  I know for sure that this piece of knitting is really what has given me the confidence to tackle any knitting project.  I've gotten many compliments on my shawl and always hear the "I could never knit that" - but I always say "yes you can!!"  I know that anyone can knit anything as long as they just try.

Since this shawl I've done tons of projects I never thought I'd be able to do.  Just look at the posts in this blog - the Fair Isle coasters and my Chincoteague Shawl!  I never thought I'd be able to design my own shawl.  In fact! In 2006, Mr. SpiderKate and I had a dialogue that went something like this:
Mr. SpiderKate: Do you ever think you'll be able to design your own stuff?
Me: I don't know.  It seems hard.
Mr. SpiderKate: I hope that you can someday.

At that point, I thought to myself that he was crazy.  I had just started knitting and didn't really feel like I was doing that all that well.  Anyhow, here we are some five years later and I have designed something.  I could probably go on for even more posts about how much I've learned from knitting, but I need to get back to swatching for my next shawl design.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Blog week kicks off today!

Okay, today is day one of Knitting and Crochet Blog week.  Today's topic is A Tale of Two Yarns.  The suggestion for today's blog is to talk about two yarns and expound on what you liked (or didn't like) about them.  For this I am going to tell a tale from my first year of knitting.  This goes back to the year 2006 (or 2007, who can remember?) when I was looking to knit Fad Classic by Wendy Bernard using Tahki Cotton classic in a gorgeous blue color.  So, I bought 6 skeins of it and brought it home.  This was also during the time when all I had was a ball winder and no swift.  I don't remember why I didn't have it wound at the store, but it probably had something to do with how pretty the skeins looked and besides I had the ball winder part at home - I could do this myself, right?  WRONG!!!  I don't believe I've ever been more wrong about something.  

I recruited Mr. SpiderKate to help and this was back when he wasn't Mr. SpiderKate yet and bless his heart did he help me.  It ended up being a nightmare.  The yarn got all tangled (possibly it was already that way in the skein) and I spent what seemed like hours untangling it.  I should have taken this as a sign for how knitting Fad Classic would go and just given up on the spot.  Somehow we got all (or most of them) wound and I set on the task on gauge swatching.  It shouldn't be surprising that Mr. SpiderKate bought me a swift not too long after this fiasco.

I tried gauge swatching on different needles and for different sizes, but I couldn't get my gauge to work out to match what the pattern called for and you guessed it - I never knit Fad Classic.  I think that with the gauge I might have been getting, I would have had to knit an XL or something.  I am not an XL.  I'm a small to medium.  I'm not sure, but I'm thinking now that maybe it was my inexperience with knitting that caused that one to fail.  I might have also not properly understood the stitch pattern or how to determine the gauge in the stitch pattern.

And that's my story and I'm sticking to it!  It wasn't quite a tale of two yarns, but a pretty good tale about one yarn.  Other than the problems with the winding and gauge swatching (which aren't even problems with the yarn but with the owner of the yarn), the yarn itself is fine and the colors that the cotton classic comes in are very sharp!  I'd really like to make something out of this yarn yet and maybe enough time as passed that I could give it another try.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Row by Row

It's been a long time since I've knit something that required such attention to row count.  Wait, let me rephrase that.  It's been awhile since I've knit something where the row count is going to be greater than 25.  I got some knitting done while watching Love Happens this afternoon.  I didn't have high hopes for the movie (besides entertainment for knitting), but it turned out better than I expected.  It wasn't your typical sappy love story, but was deeper than that.  I spent the movie working on the Rose Lace Stole and I'm loving watching the yarn knit up in this stole.  The shades/gradients of yellow are absolutely stunning.

Rose Lace Stole in progress

I've also been working on designing my next shawl, but I'm having trouble making the stitch count line up right.  This new shawl is going to be a variation on my Chincoteague Shawl, but mainly I'm just drawing on one of the stitch patterns and improving it - if that makes sense! It has been frustrating though! Math has not been my friend, but I'm confident that I can figure it out.  I have some other ideas for shawls kicking around, so I might have to work on some of those and come back to this one.

I'm also looking to join to a KALs, which is something I haven't done before.  The one that I'm interested in joining is being done by Crafty Diversions and is going to be a shawl.  Another thing I'm going to attempt to participate in the 2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.  I'm really looking forward this event!  Okay, now I must get back to figuring out my charts!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rose Lace Stole

I cast on for the Rose Lace Stole by Susanna IC last week.  I got to row 5 or 6 and for some reason decided to count my number of stitches, as a check I suppose.  Well, it's a good thing that I did because I had the wrong number of stitches!!!  Argh!  I had 105 instead of 115.  And I think that I know how this happened.  I was casting on using the provisional (invisible) cast on and counted my stitches and had 115. Now, being my obsessive self I recount the stitches (before starting knitting) and count 115 and then went to myself "Get rid of 10 stitches and you are ready to start knitting!"  Not sure why I thought that, but that is exactly what I did.  I took off 10 stitches and was on my way knitting.  I'm just glad that after only 5 or 6 rows that I decided to recheck the stitch count.  I've since cast on (this time the right number of stitches) and am happily knitting away.  

The malabrigo lace is wonderful to work with, though I'm questioning my sanity working with it on metal addi turbos.  The "geometric lace" is easily memorized for the body of the shawl and I think this is going to be my go to project for knitting groups.  This is also the first pattern I have ever knit from Interweave Knits, despite having a subscription to this magazine for the past couple of years.  Oh wait, that isn't true!  I've knit the Swallowtail Shawl, but I'm not sure I own that actual issue that was published in.

In other news, I finally finished up the pattern for my Chincoteague Shawl.  I have instructions for both charted and written knitting.  It was a bit of work to get it all together, but definitely worth it.  I learned a lot during the process, but I know that I have a lot more to learn.  One thing I'm worried about is that I didn't have test knitters for the written knitting instructions, so I hope that anyone that knits it that way contacts me if they run into problems.  Since the pattern is for free, I'm not overly worried, but next time I will definitely take the time to make sure I have test knitters for both types of knitting instructions.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chincoteague Shawl

I've finally written up my shawl pattern!  Though I only have the pattern written for those that are going to knit it from the charts.  I still have to work up the written pattern for those that don't knit from charts.  I've decided to give this pattern away for free since it is my first one!  The pattern is posted on ravelry under my newly created shop: SpiderKate Knits Ravelry Shop.  The direct link to the free pattern is here: Chincoteague Shawl

I learned to design this shawl by taking  Stefanie Japel's online class - Design Your Own Shawl.  I was debating about taking this class since I was worried that I wouldn't be able to do it and would then be very disappointed.  My husband really pushed me to sign up and I'm really glad that I did.  Stefanie does a excellent job teaching the class and making herself available to answer questions either through direct message or on the message boards.  The class is primarily composed of videos and handouts - the handouts are available for download that you get to keep long after the class is done.  The videos are well done and Stefanie does a phenomenal job of explaining the topics she's chosen to present.  She gives clear instructions/descriptions and also supplements with example knitting that she's either prepared ahead of time or by simply knitting during the video.  

Not only did I learn how to design shawls, I also walked away increasing my knitting skills when it comes to shawls.  The thing that surprised me most about the class was the information she provided that wasn't necessary related to shawl designing, but would be helpful to know.  I'd really recommend the class to anyone thinking about taking it.  You get more than your money's worth!  If you still aren't sure, then check out her ravelry group (Stefanie Japel Ravelry group).  You'll find plenty of examples of past student's shawls and with her class you'll have a shawl on there in no time!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Adventures in felting

Just after binding off, before felting
Inside of coasters before felting
I finished the Fair Isle coasters!!!  I wove in the ends and then threw then in the washer to felt them.  This is the first time I've felted something and I used knitty's felting article as a guide.  The felting seemed to go fine, though I'm still not sure if I did enough.  I don't have a picture of the finished project to go by, so in that sense I "winged" the felting.  Once I was done with the felting, I went ahead and cut the coasters apart.  

This was another first for me - cutting a project that I diligently knit.  Eck!  But it all seems to have turned out alright.  I was suppose to finger felt the edges, though I wasn't sure exactly how to do that either.  Basically I just tried rubbing the edges a bit and while it probably needs more felting at the edge, I figured that it was good enough for now.  I then stretch them all this way and that and they are currently drying. 
The outside after felting
The inside after felting

 The Details:
These were knit using Cascade Yarns 220 Wool on a size 4, 24" circular needle.  I used 14 g of the cream color and 25 g of the blue color.  The pattern is a basic "seeding" pattern that is commonly used on the palm of mittens or gloves - at least that is what I was told! 

This pattern/packet I got also has a more advanced pattern called a "Norwegian Star" and can use up to 7 different colors.  I'm thinking about attempting the advanced pattern, but I'm not sure I'm up for using 7 colors.  Maybe I could just like 3 or 4? If I knit that, then I'd be knitting essentially the same thing again - it would become coasters.
Right - front side of coasters; Left - backside of coasters

 My other idea is to knit the Endpaper Mitts by Eunny Jang.  These claim to be easy and a good project for beginner colorwork knitters.  The only thing holding me back from knitting these is that I probably need to knit the size medium, but I don't have a set of 3.00 DPNs (double point needs).  Also, I wasn't planning on gauge swatching, but perhaps that would be a big mistake.  The other option is to use the size 2 DPNs that I have and just cast on for the medium size.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I've been busy knitting

Since I last wrote I've been busy!  In the past couple of days I've finished one of two of my sweetheart socks (minus the after thought heel), finished the shawl (that I already wrote about), and today I finished Mr. Pitt's socks aka Mr. SpiderKate's socks.  I even wove in all the ends for Mr. SpiderKate's socks!!!!  I think he is going to be pleasantly surprised.  I'm also still plugging away at m Fair Isle project, which I think I could have had finished by now if it weren't for my other projects.

 Can you see by this picture how big Mr. SpiderKate's feet are!!!!  He is 6'6''!  Definitely one tall guy.  When I started these socks he wore only socks that had a higher leg part.  Now, he's switched to socks that are only ankle length.  I think he is still going to like these, even if he only gets to wear them for more dressier events or around the house to keep his feet warm.  The best thing about Mr. SpiderKate is that he really appreciates my knitting and will love these socks!!

I also finally spend some time writing up my shawl pattern.  I've written it up for those that are going to knit it from the charts and now all I have left to do is to write up the pattern as if it is going to be knit only from them the pattern (not from the charts).  I'll do a picture post of it all next time; I'm just waiting to get some better full shot pictures of it.

In yarn news, I recently picked up two skeins of malabrigo lace in the color cadmium.  I'm planning on using this for the Rose Lace Stole by Susanna IC - this pattern is in Interweave Knits Spring 2011.  I wound one of the balls yesterday and all I can say is that it looks like a little ball of sunshine and I love it!  I've never wound lace at home, so that was a first experience and I didn't have any problems with it.  I think before I was nervous about winding lace by myself because of the delicate nature of lace weight yarn, but I won't be nervous anymore!  The hardest part is how long it takes to wind it all.

And now for a sneak pick picture of the shawl! I brought the shawl into my knitting group today and they are interested in the pattern and possibly knitting it!  That is definitely going to motivate me to finish writing the pattern.  Though we don't meet again until April now due to March being a longer month after the short month of February.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

All Bound off!!!

I've officially finished my shawl for the Design Your Own Shawl class!!!  Here is some info on the shawl:
Yarn - Spud & Chloe Fine 80% wool + 20% silk
Total yarn used -  98 g (374 yds)
Needles - Size 4, 40 inch circular (need at least a 32 inch, but that might be pushing it)

Charts involved:
Set up Chart - knit once
Chart A - knit once
Chart B - 5 times
Chart C - 3 times

Beyond achieving the monumental task of binding off, I've also already woven in the ends and it is currently soaking in the washing machine! Don't worry, I'm only using the washing machine as a place to soak it - the machine is not on and will not be turning on or agitating.  If it did, then that would be tragic and my shawl would potentially be ruined!

I think I'm pretty happy with how it has turned out.  I knit it from the charts and I didn't catch any mistakes in them.  I have yet to write up the written instructions and the pattern, but I'm going to be working on that this week (though I think that I said that last week!).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rip and repeat

As promised, I worked on my shawl last night.  I start knitting row 3 of chart C and suddenly things aren't working on correctly.  So, I un-knit what I just knit and try again.  Still not working out.  Now I start counting stitches.  I come up with 156 per side.  I should only have 153.  Ugh!!!  I must have added in some extra yarn overs while knitting when I was on the phone.  The silver lining is that I did put in a lifeline at the beginning of this chart repeat and I was only starting row 3 of 8, so I was only ripping out two rows - but boy did it stink.  Then I had the fun (daunting) task of picking up 309 stitches (151 per triangle, plus 3 at each end for the garter stitch border, plus 1 for the "spine" of the shawl).  Well, I got those picked up and was back on track.  I ended up knitting rows 1-6 last night.  I timed the last purl row and found it took me roughly 8 mins per side of the shawl, so 16 minutes to purl the whole row.  I think this is going to be the last repeat of this chart, so at row 8 I will be binding off.  I might even have it done tonight!

Ah, what is that you ask?  That is my Fair Isle coaster project!  I went to the knitting guild today for the first time and this is what I came away being able to do.  Surprisingly, I am really liking working on it.  It is taking some getting use to, but I am slowly getting the hang of it.  The woman teaching the class did a phenomenal job explaining everything.  I can really see how it is useful to be able to knit both Continental and English in order to knit Fair Isle and she picked a great first time project.  I wish I could have gotten a better picture, but it is hard since I'm only on the fourth row.  I think that the biggest tips she gave us were about making use to stretch out your stitches (on the right hand needle) to make sure that your floats are long enough and which hand holds which color yarn.  For example, the color that you want to "pop" is held in the left hand (always).  I'm looking forward to how this turns out and to being a part of the knitting guild.  Oh, did I mention that I joined the knitting guild?  I did and I might even help out by becoming the treasurer.  Stay tuned for more info on that!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

To Fair Isle we go

 I cast on for the Fair Isle coaster project last night.  I'm working with an off-white (almost cream) color and a turquoise color.  Both are cascade 220 and the pattern calls for a size 4 24 inch circular needle.  I'm going to use the turquoise as the background color and the white as the pattern color.  I cast on 108 stitches, joined in the round and then knit two rounds with the background color.  I knit those rounds in Continental and let me just say that it was not easy.  I hope that with time it will become easier because I was finding it fairly frustrating and sloooooooooooooooow.   Other than that, I haven't done a whole lot of knitting this weekend.  I have work on the sweetheart socks and am almost done with one chart repeat for the leg.  What I should have worked more on was my shawl, but there is always today for that!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What's on my needles

Bird's eye view of knitting
This chair is one of my favorite places to knit lately.  It is easy to hunker down in it and spread out any charts/directions on the arms of the chair.  I also like that I can brace my left arm against the armrest, which helps with my knitting.  That basically means that it help supports my arm so that it doesn't get tired!  Ha!  Is that lame?  I've often thought that maybe I should work on some muscle building so that my arm doesn't get sore, but then I just brace my arm against the armrest and forget I ever thought of it. If you look carefully at the picture you can also see the cat sitting in front of the chair.  I've been battling him all day for this chair.  The moment I leave it, he jumps right in and goes to sleep until I return and boot him out.

These are one of two pairs of socks I'm currently working on, these are the sweetheart socks in the latest issue of Knitty.  I've never been much of a sock knitter nor have had any desire to knit socks, but our recent move to the south has really changed how I view sock knitting.  The other socks I'm working are Mr. Pitt's socks, which you can find the pattern for on ravelry.  For Mr. Pitt's socks, I already have one sock completed and almost nearly the second sock completed.  For the sweetheart socks, I'm currently on sock 1 of 2.  I should have had Mr. Pitt's socks done by now, but taking the Design Your Own Shawl class really derailed those and I've only been working on them during my knitting group since they are a great travel project.

I also have on-going the gap-tastic-cowl, the shawl I designed, and some sewing to do on a sun hat (sewing on I-cord, that is).  Right now I'm mostly focused on the shawl and the sweetheart socks.  I am really loving knitting the sweetheart socks and will post soon my notes on the socks so far.  I have a bunch of notes on ravelry and on paper, but it couldn't hurt to post them here.  These socks involved a bunch of new skills for me.  I have never done toe up socks or an afterthought heel or magic loop!  I think that is what is keeping my interest in these socks.  They have really challenged me and I am definitely enjoying it.  The socks are really fun to knit and the pattern is written well.

Right now that puts me at 4ish on going projects (let's not count the hat for now).  I am pushing myself to finish up the shawl by Friday, though I forgot how close Friday actually was!  Should have checked a calendar on that one.  I'm also going to be writing the pattern up for that in the next couple of days.  Once I've decided what I'm going to do with the shawl/pattern, I will post more information about it; but for now I want to keep quiet about it.

And that is what is on my needles.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kate's Knitting

I'm restarted a knitting blog.  Why, you might ask after my last failed attempt?  Well, things are different in my life right now.  One being that I'm currently not working, so I have more time to devote to things like blogs and knitting in general.  I think that I've already surpassed all the amount of knitting that I did from 2008 to 2010 during Jan 2011 to today.  I know that tons of people work and knit, but I guess that wasn't working out that great for me.  I didn't stop knitting, but it was definitely low on my list of things to do.  It also didn't help that at the time I was driving 45 minutes one way to work and by the time I would get home and finish dinner, it was sometimes close to 8pm, leaving me only about 2 hours before I went to bed.

I've also been learning a lot about knitting recently and working hard to expand my skill set.  Part of that expansion has been taking a Design Your Own Shawl class taught online by Stefanie Japel.  I'll write more about that later, as I'm still winding down and I'm working to finish up the shawl.  Another skill set I'm working on is learning to knit Continental.  I'm going to be joining a knitting guild and the next project is Fair Isle knitting.  This is going to be a double whammy of learning.  I will be learning  Continental knitting AND Fair Isle at the same time.  I spent some time yesterday working on the Continental knitting and all I can say is that my brain hurts.  I have no experience with Fair Isle knitting, though I do have some experience with color knitting.  Emphasis on the word some.

Okay, I think that is gonna be it for now.  I'm going to try to post fairly frequently and I'll mostly be posting about knitting with some personal aspects of my life!

Happy Knitting!!