Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Meet Kermit...

It's amazing how repetition aids learning. Yesterday while catching up on ANTM and Heroes, I tried unsuccessfully to learn how to weave in knit stitches on the sampler I am working on from the Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee. I just didn't get what the author was trying to teach me from the instructions and illustrations in the book. Without warning my fingers and thumbs were in a muddle, as I continuously poked them with my circulars and horribly twisted my two strands of yarn. After trying for 80 stitches to weave in my knit ends I sighed loudly with frustration. What did it matter anyway? Knitting was supposed to be relaxing and fun and I was never going to do 2-colour knitting so what use would learning how to weave in knit stitches be to me anyway? So I stuffed my ugly little mutant Kermit sampler into my knitting bag and watched the rest of Heroes in peace.

This morning however I felt uneasy as I confronted Kermit once more. So far I had faithfully followed the workshop in creating my sampler (aka Kermit) to the letter and have joyously learned how to cable cast-on, finally knit a short row, created a neat chain selvedge and a sweater pocket, experimented with increases and stripes, sailed through perfecting my raglan seamline decreases only to get stuck with weaving in knit stitches. No, I wasn't going to be beaten by something that sounded as simple as weaving in a stitch for goodness sake, I couldn't amputate my knitting repertoire of something as vibrant as 2-colour knitting.

So I tried again but still the same problem, the yarn being carried was not being weaved in at the back of my knitting and I just couldn't understand why. Then for some reason I decided to peak around the back of my round and see exactly what was going on to cause my carried yarn to just droop so limply despite my best efforts and I watched those strands as I took the yarn to be carried over the left needle and the yarn to be knit with over the right needle and for some reason I was dropping the carried yarn off the left needle before I could knit the stitch with the main colour yarn. Hence my problem, because I should have been letting the carried yarn drop just as I knit the stitch to give the yarns a chance to intertwine and then as the next stitch is knit the carried yarn is automatically tucked in and weaved at the back of the fabric so the weaving takes place over two stitches not one as I had previously thought. Are you confused yet? Well I was until I watched this yarn dance going on at the back and as soon as I witnessed it the penny dropped and it was so simple and logical and I was so happy I had not let myself be defeated by something which I now know is perfectly simple.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I'll huff and I'll puff...

I have been knitting but not with a great degree of success unfortunately. First lets start with the good stuff. I made this bag way back in December, gosh that seems such a long time ago, I can't believe it's March already there are Easter eggs in the shop and tinsel isn't even a distant memory yet. Anyway I made this bag back then and I love it.

It is my new knitting bag and my first foray into felting. I am very surprised by the texture of the bag, I had always imagined that felted stuff would be very stiff but this fabric isn't. It is still soft and cosy even though the stitches have bonded together. I guess I could wash it again to get a stiffer fabric but I like it as it is. I used Sirdar Balmoral which is a heavenly combination of silk, alpaca and wool, which has sadly been discontinued but I am hunting some down on ebay and have my fingers crossed. I will definitely make an item of clothing with the next lot I get. The yarn is cloud soft.

I must admit I am becoming a bit more discerning these days when it comes to my choice of yarn (bad for the bank balance). When I first started knitting again over a year ago now, I really could not understand the anti-acrylic sentiments I would encounter, at the time I was quite contendly clicking away with my 100% acrylics. I would also like to point out that this was back in the days when I knew nothing about yarn weights and why they were important, discovering different needle sizes was a 'eureka!' moment for me, had never met dpns and could not even have fathomed the existence of circular needles. Happily I have moved on a lot since those blissfully ignorant days and though I appreciate acrylics have their place in the world of yarn and don't avoid them completely, 100% acrylic yarn is a thing of the past for me.

Now to the not so good. My other project was this suspect...

This is a pattern from the Rowan Classic Arts magazine called Vanessa and I made it using some DK Oddity yarn in Caramel I found on ebay. It is lovely yarn, though the label just says 'luxury' fibres so I have no idea of the fibre content but I love it anyway and it substitues well for the recommended Rowan yarn.

I am very happy with the way it turned out as you can see it complements the figure of my dummy quite well. Unfortnately I am not the dummy and when I put it on for some reason although it fits it made me look totally out of proportion. The high ribbing just looks wrong on me. I had previously made a vest with a high rib and that looked wrong on me too but I had put that down to my inexperience with design and maybe a bit of dodgy knitting but now I see it wasn't. This style of top just does not suit me one iota, hence the missing arm, I am not completing it. This garment, as pretty as it may seem in my Rowan magazine and on my dummy makes me look like I have been squashed by about 6 inches and I'm not that tall to begin with, it also makes my boobs look like they could give Jordan a run for her money, not the look I was going for. At least I have learned a valuable lesson, there will be no more high ribbing for me. I will stick to the style of garments that are in my wardrobe that I know suit me and not be swayed by some clever posing in a photoshot.

Can anyone tell me why sock yarn tends to be 4-ply? I once swore I would never make socks but I treated myself to The Sweater Workshop by Barbara Walker as I want to try making a seamless sweater. There is a pattern for spiral socks at the beginning of the book that I am suddenly itching to make. I have some 4-ply in my stash but was checking out sock yarn for future reference and noticed the 4-ply trend. I also want to make the socks using 2 circular needles, if anyone has tried this is it just a case of substituting the dpns for the circulars or are there any different techniques to be aware of?

And finally, look what the wind did to my house...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My confessions...

This blog is about to take a very different slant on life. I have stopped knitting for a while, at the moment my heart is not into it for some reason, this happened to me last year so I am just going to wait with it until inspiration returns. I got my course but after going over the first module I didn't really like it so I cancelled it.

With this new year I have taken time to do a lot of introspection and taking a lot more time to read. Books are my first love, my passion but I have always been afraid to take it to the next level. I have been working on a novel off and on for years now and I am taking tentative steps with the one I am working on. Progress is slow but at least there is progress.

I am currently reading Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins. I just happened to come across it as I was browsing among the shelves of my local library. The title caught my attention so I checked it out and am glad I did. It is the true story of a man who alledges his job with a company called MAIN in the 70s was to convince developing countries around the world, predominately in the Middle East and Latin America to take on debts they would never be able to pay off in exchange for engineering services that would build up the country's infrastructure and make the leaders of those countries extremely wealthy at the expense of the masses (sound familar?), as a result of their indebtedness America had these countries in the palm of their hand, resulting in a lot of the issues that currently plague many countries in Latin America and the Middle East as well as other parts of the world. I don't know if everything in this book is true but it at least provides a different perspective to the one we are fed daily via the media and gives a lot of food for thought.

It has opened my eyes to a lot of answers to questions I have asked myself over the years as to why things don't seem to be getting better around the world when on the face of it they should be and why the poor are getting poorer and the rich getting richer. It has made aware of the histories of several countries of which I was previously ignorant about especially in Latin America and Indonesia, which I will be studying further.

I now better understand the reasons for a lot of wars and unrest and the desperation that forces the people involved to be driven to such measures in their last ditch attempt to protect their families, their lives and their land and the greed and ruthlessness that breeds this desperation. I ask myself what would I do if that was me? This book forces you to think about some very complex issues that plague the world today, while at the same time being fairly easy to read despite the subject matter. Heavy I know but sometimes I think we need to get heavy and I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something with a little substance to their reading. This book also refers to the memoir of Haing S Ngor (among many others) who was one of the many victims of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. I checked this out of the library yesterday and will be reading it soon.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2007 - Go for IT!

It really does feel like a new year. I feel up and ready to go and full of optimisim for the new year not that the old one was too bad, it's just that I feel that good things are going to come out of 2007.

I have enrolled myself on a knitting course after spending so many months deliberating over whether or not to do this and then not quite being able to find one that suited me in terms of content, finance or attendance times. I have tried doing it alone but like some people need a personal trainer and some don't I need someone to show me the ropes when it comes to design. I have done a few things myself but have never been completely happy with the results. I also need something that fits into my schedule and I think the C&G 7922 course run by WS Touchbase fits the bill. I booked it on 1st Jan (new year, new beginning and all that), I am impatiently waiting for the first module to arrive.

2007 is offically my 'go for IT year'. I spent a lot of 2006 wondering what to do with myself having decided not to return to work after my 2nd miscarriage. But after spending over 10 years working full time in IT and steadily building a career, being a full time housewife left me with a void that no amount of home baking, cooking, cleaning, ironing, gardening or redocorating could fill. I enjoy my time at home but need something else to give myself a sense of accomplishment and validation apart from my family and home, something that defines me, that I can be successful at and proud of. This was a tall order I found which is why it has taken me so long to finally figure it out. I am going to go for something that I totally love and enjoy, seriously studying and designing knitwear and seeing where it takes me.

I am in the middle of turning my spare room into a studio and waiting for the first coat to dry while I post this. I've never found decorating particularly enjoyable but I am really loving painting my new studio. I wasn't sure of the colour, I had 4 tins of paint that I brought back in August when I was going to paint the living room, they were a complete bargain but then my enthusiasm waned as I was striping the stairs and painting the kitchen at the same time, I just couldn't face decorating yet another room. I cracked the first tin open yesterday and was totally dismayed by the colour at first which resembled camamile lotion slapped all over the walls when I first put it on, but once dried it is the lovely ivory colour it is supposed to be. It is such a peaceful room and easy to get lost inbetween the brush strokes while listening to the birds singing in the tree below the window and feeling the wind that rustles through its leaves. I am busy daydreaming about all the wonderful designs that will come to fruition in that room. Coincidentally the paint I am using is called Sanctuary, just perfect.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Colour me grey...

This is my first attempt at colour knitting. The swatch is part of a motif I'm thinking of for a project that is currently percolating in my mind. It has come out pretty much how I wanted it to though I am not sure whether or not I should use a stronger colour, I've used light and dark grey for this one and the contrast is not as strong as I had envisaged.

Rianna is coming along nicely. I have finished the front and working on the back right now. The part above the ribbing came out a bit wider than I wanted it to and I'm not sure what the overall effect will be, but I have pinned it up and the contrast of the tight rib and the slightly voluminous top half sort of complement each other as the top 'spills' over the rib. I hope I'm still saying that when the back's finished as I really do like how Rianna is progressing at the moment and looking forward to wearing her.

Well this baby isn't going to knit herself so it's head down and back to clicking for me.