Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My knitting is growing up (like the babies I've been knitting for), part 1

It has been forever since I posted something not related to organization or classes I'm teaching or other non-crafting things.  That's really not much of an exaggeration.  I looked, and apart from pictures of things I've done, I haven't discussed any of my creative pursuits (see how I just threw my business name in there?) since last September!  That must and will stop now.

Let's talk about knit, baby!  Let's talk about loops and purls!  Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that knit brings.  Let's talk about knit... let'stalkaboutknit!

Now that that song is planted firmly in my ear...  If you need to catch up on all my knitting exploits, please see the following blog posts:

Stop me!!! (September 21, 2010)
By Jove! (September 22, 2010)
First knitting project (December 8, 2010)
Second knitting project (December 12, 2010)

Goodness!  I haven't blogged about knitting in 2 1/2 years?  Yeah, that sounds about right.  That also must and will stop now because I've grown to really like knitting.  That cardigan I rant about in the "Second knitting project" post is still in process.  I had numerous other attempts to complete the back.  Fortunately I jotted down the problems and will post about them when I'm actually done with the sweater.  I have completed the back and the two front panels, and I'm working on the hood.  This hood will take a very long time.

I have actually completed a few knitting projects, mainly because Steve's coworkers keep having babies.  That sounds like a lot, but in 2011 a baby boy was born to one family, and this year another baby boy was born to another family.  The first family is expecting again, but they don't know yet if it will be a boy or a girl.

Steve made scrapbooks for each baby - pages all done except for pictures and journaling - and I knit things.  I think we set a high bar for ourselves if babies keep being born, but it's fun, and we're happy to do it.

The first baby got a sweater that he could grow into.  When I looked for the picture today to show you, I could have sworn that sweater was crocheted.  But, nope, the pictures were in my knitting folder, and the pattern says it's knitted.  It must not have been that hard to do because I wasn't traumatized by it.  This sweater is from the "Pullover and Puppy Booties" set from the Loops & Threads "Pocket Pals" booklet.  You can see the booklet here, but it doesn't seem to be available for sale.  You might be able to find it in your local Michaels store.  Each of the patterns is adorable and uses the Loops & Threads Snuggly Wuggly yarn, because what else would you call your baby yarn but "Snuggly Wuggly"?  I unfortunately don't have a picture of the baby wearing the sweater, but here it is before we gave it away:

You might notice something missing...  There's no pocket!  I knit the pocket and blocked it along with everything else, but I had a devil of a time sewing it on.  Then I decided that since I wasn't making a pal to go into the pocket (and since a baby doesn't need to carry change or a wallet), that the sweater really looked fine without it.

The construction of the sweater (now that I'm remembering it) was pretty easy, but I learned a little bit of color change, decreasing to make raglans (the things there where the sleeves join the front and back), and making a slightly fancy V neck.

After the sweater I took a little break and worked on the damnable cardigan off and on (mostly off).  Earlier this year I decided I wanted to learn to make socks, but since I have duck feet and cankles (yes, I said cankles), I was a bit leery of trying.  I didn't want to spend ages knitting a sock just to have it not fit.  I was also concerned about the basic sock construction and working in the round.  Could I figure it out since I'm really not that good of a knitter (baby sweater notwithstanding)?  I found a pattern for slipper socks called "Sockies" on Lion Brand's website: http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/L10576.html.  Hopefully you won't have to log in to see it.  It's a free pattern, and the e-mails I get from Lion Brand always have other free patterns, so you might want to consider registering on the site.

Anyway - the Sockie ("You keep saying Sockie, but I don't know what a Sockie is!" Steve kept saying) has the same construction as a regular sock but uses thicker yarn and bigger needles.  I had a few bumps getting started, but I contribute that to:  being left-handed knitting right-handed, having problems with spacial things in general, and only watching one YouTube video on knitting circularly before I got started.  I think YouTube is wonderful for figuring out probably everything you need to do while knitting, but I highly recommend watching at least 2 videos on a topic before getting started.  My other mistake was watching a video of a guy explaining circular knitting.  :::ducking before Steve throws things at me:::  I actually assumed that if a guy could explain it to me then I'd have a fair shot of figuring it out.  The problem was that either I misunderstood him, or he was doing it backwards.

Let me explain a little bit about circular knitting for those of you who don't knit or who haven't been sitting in the room with me while I screamed about medieval torture devices.  On larger circular projects you have one very long needle with two metal pointy ends and a flexible middle so you can endlessly knit a tube without having to switch needles around.  I haven't done that yet.  I think it's brilliant.  For smaller projects such as Sockies, socks, or baby hats, you need to use DPNs, or Double Pointed Needles.  For bigger smaller projects there are 5 needles, and for smaller smaller projects there are 4 needles.  I decided to try my hand at circular knitting using 5 needles.  You cast on the total number of stitches then distribute them among all the needles (except for one that you'll use to knit with).  While trying to keep the stitches from falling off, you're supposed to then join one side to the other without twisting.  That would create a Mobius strip, I think.  Not very conducive to putting on your foot.  Joining took a few tries, but finally I got it.

Then you knit the stitches off of one needle onto the spare.  Once that needle is empty, you use that to knit the stitches off the next needle, all while keeping this mess in a circular state and the stitches from falling off.  There's a fair amount of repositioning that needs to be done, and I found that I kept putting the empty needle down or in my mouth, and then I was knitting stitches onto a needle that already had stitches on it, which I guess isn't good.  That took a while to get used to.  I think the turning point for me was the "clink" of one needle being dropped onto the needle that was already in my lap as I was about to knit stitches off of the next needle.

Well before I got to the heel flap, I was confused.  It seemed that I was knitting inside the Sockie.  At first I assumed that I'd just turn the piece inside out once I was done, but that didn't make sense, and the instructions didn't say anything about that.  Also, I extrapolated that if I was knitting a hat, I'd have a hell of a time once the decreasing really kicked in.  So I did the only logical thing I could do:  I called my mother.  However, Mom had no idea what I was talking about based on my confused ramblings.

Bing!  (that's the sound of a light bulb switching on)  We'll use Skype!  I'll show her how I'm knitting, and she'll tell me how to fix it.  Well, that opened up a, um, can of worms, let's call it, because for some reason the webcam on my laptop no longer exists.  I can see it.  I'm looking at it right now while I'm typing this sentence.  But my laptop no longer sees it.  Steve and I both messed with that for probably an hour and a half before we gave up.  It was late, and... and... I figured out what I was doing wrong.  The one and only YouTube video I watched about circular knitting either showed me (or I misinterpreted) that while I was knitting the bulk of the piece should be next to my body with the knitting happening on the other side.  So my pretty V stitches were on the inside of the piece instead of the outside, and my stomach kept getting poked with needles.  What's actually supposed to happen is the knitting should take place next to the body with the bulk of the piece (and most of the pointy bits) on the other side away from the body.  Once I figured that out (which I did while getting increasingly pissed at the webcam), I went back to the YouTubes for more videos.  At this point I had told Mom to go to bed, and I was curled up on the couch with my iPad.  Yes, my iPad which has a built in camera.  I noticed that while watching videos confirming what I had suspected, and the next morning we tried Skyping using the Pad, and it works just fine.

I was able to finish the Sockie with no more serious problems, and I found that following the instructions line by line for the heel and all the rest of it really wasn't all that difficult.  I even finished the second Sockie.  I do not have pictures of them because they're really baggy.  I don't know if it's the yarn or my gauge (Gauges?  We don't need no stinkin' gauges!), but they're really, really baggy.  They look normal except for being baggy.  I think I'm going to put a ribbon around the ankle to hold them on.  I've held off on that because I think that would complete the feeling that I'm wearing bags on my feet.

Now that I've been typing for over an hour, I think it's time to stop.  I'll finish my knitting update next week, and you'll finally see the train hat I've been teasing you with.  Don't worry - it's worth the wait.

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