Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gap-tastic Cowl Take 2

I'm knitting another Gap-tastic Cowl.  I'm knitting this for a couple of reasons: 
  1. I donated the first one I made.
  2. I had yarn in my stash to make one.
  3. I want to learn how to knit Continental.
The main reason is the third one.  I really want to become a proficient continental knitter.  There is nothing wrong with knitting English, which is how I currently knit, but I'm having a lot of what I call "mechanical" knitting pain.  For awhile, I just thought that most people knit tolerating some level of pain.  After asking around, I found out that this isn't true and that it might be how I knit that is causing the pain.  Most of my pain comes in the form of neck pain, which while in the past was mostly minor, has grown considerable worse recently.  I was told there are a couple of reasons and simple fixes I could try to help alleviate the pain:
  1. Certain stretches can help reduce the pain.
  2. Remember to take a break and move around after knitting for so long.
  3. Change how you hold the yarn.
  4. Try to change how you knit.
I'm trying to work on incorporating all of these things, the biggest of which is trying to change how I knit.   In the meantime, it was recommended to me to take some sort of pain reliever to help while I'm incorporating these changes and healing.  All of these things have been helping me, but so far I'm still in pain.  Though, I can't say for sure right now how much of the pain is directly from knitting and how much is still left over from when I slept funny and woke up with neck pain.  Either way, I'm still in pain but refuse to stop knitting so it's not getting better as fast as it could.  
Gap-tastic Cowl and my new obsession: nail polish!
The good news is that I'm doing reasonable well knitting Continental.  I had the knit stitch down before starting this project, but was really struggling with my purl stitch.  After watching various videos demonstrating the purl stitch, I still really couldn't get the hang of it.  I ended up consulting a friend who knits Continental style and she showed me how she does the purl stitch.  That really helped a lot.  With some practice, I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with the purl stitch.  My gauge is still looser than I'd like it to be, but I know that I can work on that in time.  My plan with this is to start with simple projects and work my way up to more complicated projects.  I'm hoping it will go the route of when I first learned to knit where at first your stitches are okay, but not uniformed and all you need is to keep at it to make it all fall into place.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Clue #1 Complete!

Let me tell you about the lace knitting week I've had.  It's been terrible.  I'm working on knitting up a new lace design which is very lacey and has lots of stitches.  At the end of Part A of the shawl I have 458 stitches (or there about), so it's pretty big.  I start Part B and am plugging away until row 6 when I see what looks like a bunch of dropped stitches.  Upon closer inspection it is probably about 3 to 5 dropped stitches that have unraveled to the lifeline.  I take a deep breath and start trying to put the pieces back together.  After fiddling with it a bit, I have it somewhat back together.  I'm feeling okay about it, but I'm not feeling great.  In the end I decide to rip it out because this is a sample of the pattern (just a sample for me but nonetheless a sample) and I wanted it to be right.  If this was a shawl I was just knitting to knit, then I would have just gone on with my fix and been happy with it.  

Then I'm knitting another shawl, actually a lace weight En Fuego Shawl, and the cat jumps up to where I'm knitting.  Well, I got startled and pulled my hands apart and thus dropped a bunch of stitches.  This one I couldn't fix and believe me I tried.  In the end I ripped back to my lifeline and went on with the knitting.  Mind you that these two incidents happened within days of each other.  You'd think that all this ripping would put me off from lace, but I never think about it that way.  Sure, I'm kinda mad at the time, but it's just how it goes.  

If you thought that was the end of my lace woes, then you'd be wrong.  I don't blame you for thinking it was the end because after all that even I thought that I was done.  I'd paid my lace dues for the year or at least a couple of months.  What else could go wrong and how many lace projects do I have going?  After all the drama of my ripping, picking up stitches and re-knitting sections, I thought it would be a good idea to work on my mystery shawl.  So, I pick that up and start knitting away.  I've almost completed a row (I'm talking like 25 stitches from the end) and since this is a bottom up shawl that means I have 283 stitches in the row and I realize that I've been knitting the wrong row.  I'm suppose to be knitting Row 3 and instead I've knit Row 1.  Ugh!!!  You know what I do next, nope not rip, but instead I do what I call "knitting backwards".  This is where I essentially undo each stitch back to the beginning of the row. 
Cast-on completed!
They say that bad things happen in threes and I'm hoping that they are right.  I've since gone on to complete the mystery shawl Clue #1 without any further problems.  I'm happy with how it is turning out and looking forward to the next clue coming out tomorrow.  Actually, I'm happy with how all my lace projects are going despite the difficulties they've given me this past week.  Here's hoping that this week's lace knitting goes smoothly.
Clue #1 completed!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Firsts

I'm on a roll lately where almost every project I want to cast-on for involves some sort of technique I've never done before.  First it was the Wedge socks and now it's a shawl knit from the bottom up.  The shawl is actually a KAL being run by Wendy Johnson of Wendy Knits through her Ravelry group.  The pattern is named the Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl KAL 2012.  I'm in a little bit of a shawl rut where almost every shawl I've knit lately has been one of my own patterns.  Now don't get me wrong, I love knitting my own shawl patterns, but there is something fun about knitting someone else's shawl pattern & seeing how they put the lace patterns together.  Another reason I picked this shawl is because it is a mystery shawl.  Why is that good?  Well, it's because it will give me a little more to knit over the next month without feeling like I just want to knit on it nonstop.  I like to think of it as portion control for knitting.  
I'm knitting mine using Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the fabulous colorway Silver Fox.  I knit a swatch using size US 5 (3.75 mm) needles.  Normally I wouldn't knit a swatch, but in this case if you knit a swatch AND posted it in her group under the swatch thread, then you would be eligible for prizes.  I'm not really hopeful that I will win a prize, but it's fun to play along and be part of the group.  This is going to be my first project knit using the Tosh Merino Light and if anything can be based on knitting the swatch, then I can tell I'm going to love it.  This KAL is running from June 20th to July 17th with a new clue being released every week.  I'm (hopefully) going to be posting my work in progress pictures along the way.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

First Wedge done!

My first Wedge sock is done!!!  The photo isn't the greatest since the colors are a bit brighter in real life (see previous post), but I wanted to share.  I haven't cast on for the second sock yet because I think I need to work on my Amelie Socks as well as some other projects I have going on.  Though Mr. SpiderKate & I are taking a road trip this weekend so it might be nice to be working on the second sock while away...

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Wedge!

I'm going through this phase with pattern buying.  I see a pattern either a single pattern or collection of patterns in a book and/or magazine and despite wanting it (or them), I don't buy them.  Then I get home and I can't get the pattern/book/magazine out of my head!  This drives me crazy until the next time I'm at my LYS and am able to buy the pattern/book/magazine.  Where am I going with all of this?
Cast-on photo - June 1st
Well, one of my most recent purchases was Knit.Sock.Love. by Cookie A.  I've loved this book since I first laid eyes on it.  The photography in this book is absolutely amazing.  If you haven't seen this book before, then definitely get your hands on a copy to drool over all the photos.  Don't forget to also spend some time drooling over all the sock patterns as well.  There are 19 socks patterns in the book, which are divided into three sections: Chapter 1 Columns, Chapter 2 Tessellations & Chapter 3 Diagonals.  Of those 19 patterns, some were and still are published as free patterns while the others are brand new sock patterns.  Most of the patterns include multiple sizes and the directions are left "open" in the sense that you can knit them anyway you like i.e. with DPNs, magic loop, or with 2 circular needles. 
This sock is Arthur approved
I also had an ulterior motive with buying this book - finding the perfect sock pattern for some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn that I inherited from my mom in the colorway Argyle.  I'm not sure how old my version of Argyle is because mine was bought as two hanks of 215 yards each.  My version also seems to have more grey than the picture on Jimmy Beans Wool yarn page. 
Short row heel completed!
The pattern that spoke to me was Wedge as it looked like the perfect pattern to use for multicolored yarn.  I earmarked the page and figured I'd get around to casting on for these after I finished my current pair of socks.  Then I started looking up the socks on Ravelry because we all know I love researching patterns to death before casting on.  Anyway, this search then lead me to looking up the book Knit.Sock.Love on Ravelry and ultimately to finding a Ravelry group dedicated to the book.  This group is amazing.  They have a KAL going every month for a different pattern in the book.  
Back of short row heel
What do you think that June's KAL pattern was going to be?  Wedge!!!  It was like the stars aligning.  How could I not participate in this KAL??  Of course I had to participate.  The KAL runs from June 1st to July 31st.  I'm already through the cuff, leg, & heel of sock #1.  I elected to knit my socks using DPNs, since the sock has a short row heel.  I've never done a short row heel before and wasn't super confident I could navigate it on magic loop the first time through.  I'm really happy with how the yarn is knitting up and generally enjoying the pattern.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Silverbells Shawl!!!

Well, it's taken me much longer than I initially anticipated but my latest shawl design, Silverbells Shawl is now available for purchase via Ravelry!  This is a triangle shawl that is smaller (re: shawlette sized), but can be made larger by increasing the number of chart repeats.  I was inspired to design this shawl by a friend knitting a shawl in Malabrigo Silky Merino.  The yarn just looked and felt soo yummy, that I knew I needed to design/knit a shawl for myself using it.
The shawl was knit on a US 7 (4.5 mm) needle using just under 2 skeins of the Silky Merino.  If you are wanting to make a larger shawl, then definitely have a third skein.  If you plan on knitting a separate gauge swatch, then definitely buy a third skein. I was really torn trying to determine if I should have added my usual yarn "fudge" factor when listing yarn for the pattern, but in the end I went with how much yarn I used exactly.  I normally add this fudge factor to try to account for differences in gauge because nothing is worse than running out of yarn for a project.  However, for this shawl I didn't want people to have to buy a whole third skein and only end up using a little bit of it.
The pattern includes both written and charted instructions.  Pattern is downloaded as a 4 page pdf that is ~800 kb.  This shawl is definitely a quick knit - perfect for yourself or as a gift!  Of all my shawls, I think that this one is probably the best so far for a true shawl novice.  If you've been scared to try out a shawl on your own, then please give this one a try! 
The following stitches are used: knit, purl, yarn over, & sl1 k2tog psso.  That's it! The trickiest part of the whole shawl is probably the garter stitch cast-on, but there are a lot of great tutorials out there on that -  Stephen West has a great photo tutorial here.  A quick search for videos will also turn up some great videos demonstrating the garter stitch tab cast-on.