Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Sweater

Remember a long time ago when I blogged about making this sweater?:

Well, I made it. Very poorly. But I made it.

It was definitely a learning experience, and an exercise in accepting defeat.  I knew I was taking my chances when I discovered that the 9 skeins of yarn I bought for the project was too bulky, but I decided to knit it anyway.

The brioche rib stitch is an interesting pattern that isn't difficult, but results in a thick, spongy project that would be perfect for a sweater if knit with a lighter yarn.

In terms of execution, the pattern knitted up easily enough.  It took about a month of committed knitting to get the job done.


I had my friend don the final product for this photo.  She's done it as much justice here as anyone could ever do.  She's one of those people who could on a potato sack and look stylish.

The biggest problem is the seaming job.  I didn't research how to do it properly, and it really shows!  However, you will feel confident riding into battle with this baby, because it wears like chain mail.

 And that battle could be in the Antarctic during a polar vortex and because it's so thick you'd still be sweating.

Needless to say, this project has since joined the holey bed sock and mismatched arm warmers in my closet of misfit garments.  However, I can still take pride in the fact that I at least completed my first ever sweater - but it might be a while before I attempt a second!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Top 10 Signs you are a Lazy, Bumblin' Knitter

10. You come across a notation you're unfamiliar with, and instead of Googling it you shrug and think "I'll just skip that".  Then stubbornly proceed the knit the rest of the project incorrectly even when your project ends up with numerous holes.

9. You never use needles smaller than a US size 10.

8. You have never, and have no plans to ever, use a pattern that calls for cobweb or lace weight yarn.

7. You've made about 100 000 hats and scarves, but only half of one sweater.

6. You had no idea what it meant to "block" your work for your first year as a knitter. Even though this instruction is on on every pattern ever.

5. You watched one minute of a YouTube tutorial for the Kitchener Stitch and then said "pssh, screw that" and then proceeded to bind off your project and sew it together causing an unsightly seam. (Unsightly because you didn't bother to learn how to seam anything correctly either)

4. Speaking of seams, you hate seaming with a passion and will go out of your way to avoid projects that list a tapestry needle as one of the required materials.

3. You spend a significant amount of money on a fancy artisan yarn, promising yourself you will take care to wind it into a proper ball. Then, when you're about halfway through you think, "whatever, there's not that much left" and then try to hastily wind the rest, resulting in a tangled labyrinth of fibers that haunts your nightmares for months.

2. You never do a gauge swatch. Like, EVER. (No matter how many failed, ill-sized projects you have under your belt.)

1. You start a knitting blog and then fail to update it for over a year.


I'm back! From tacky purple bed-socks to deformed children's toys, I've been back in knitting action for the past few months, and looking forward to sharing my successes and fails in equal measure. Stay tuned!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Practice Socks

Good news: There was a huge sale on yarn today at my local Michael's.

I went a little nuts.

Bad news: All the yarn I bought is the wrong weight/type for my intended upcoming projects.  It's not my fault that my phone wasn't able to access my Ravelry queue from inside the store!  I grabbed the weights I thought I needed, but somehow they all ended up being off by one or two wpi. :( 

But hey, I still got a ridiculously good deal on the skeins I bought, and I know I will find a purpose for them sooner or later!

Anyway, this post is actually about socks. Guess what? Socks are pretty difficult to knit. Especially when your previous experience is limited to scarves and hats.

I used, and highly recommend, this free Comfy Sock pattern. With its chunky weight wool and size 11 dpns, it's the  perfect training pattern for newbie sock-knitters.  The pattern is still confusing if you've never encountered terms like "heel flap" and "shape gusset," but that's nothing a few YouTube tutorials can't fix. I owe everything I know to those tutorials! In particular, a special nod to this VeryPink Knits tutorial which walks through each step of sock-knitting in a six part series. Although she's using a different pattern, the basics are the same. 

But all the patterns and video tutorials aren't the same as practical application, so I grabbed my chopsticks dpns, and gave it a go.

My first result was this:

I should mention that I neglected to find out what ssk actually meant the first time around for this pattern, which accounts for about 60% of the lameness.  Anyway, this sock is, needless to say, a write-off, unless you happen to be a Dr. Seuss character who is entering an ugly sock contest.

To be honest, I was pretty discouraged at how complicated sock-knitting turned out to be, and as a result I did not make a second attempt for a couple weeks. Then I had five days off from work over Christmas, and there seemed to be no excuse not to try again. Same pattern, with a few extra tutorials behind my belt:
The trick for knitting on DPNs is not to twist the stitches when joining in the round-  Or poke your eye out.

Yes, that is a Martini. Because sock-knitting is a party.

We interrupt this sock to bring you this tangled mess.

Finally finished

Not terrible, right?

Let's put it on:
The heel always wears a hole eventually- why don't I just knit the hole to be there right from the start?

There's a few problems to be sure, but one gaping one that seemed a little more obvious than the rest.

Some subsequent research online revealed that the dreaded "gusset gap" is a common plague among new sock-knitters.  As demonstrated in this tutorial by KatAutum, the problem can be solved by picking up an extra two stitches next to the heel flap, in addition to those picked up when initializing the gusset. The result means you need an extra two rounds of decreasing the instep, but the gap will be gone!

Having learnt this, let's try again!

Third time's a charm?

Less demented then its predecessors   

As good as its going to get.
Not sure if I can say I've graduated the kindergarten sock class yet, but at least it fits a human foot and is free of any gaping holes. Which is 2 for 2 as far as I'm concerned.

I'm going to take a break from socks for now, but I'm hoping to try another sock pattern soon using smaller yarn and needles, in hopes that the finished product will be less slipper-like.

Now it's time to spend the next several hours on Ravelry in attempt to find some pattern(s) I can use all my new yarn for! 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Crafty Christmas Gifts!

I guess considering how much I've been talking about knitting to all my friends and family the past few months, it's probably not much of a surprise that I was given several knitting-related gifts for Christmas this year - but I'm excited about them so this post is basically just to show them off!

My boyfriend gave me this cute basket for my yarn, and a beautiful organizer for all my knitting needles.

Filbert, my sheep tape-measure, approves of his new home.

Seriously, this organizer is a life changer. As I've been trying new projects requiring various needles sizes, my needle collection has been expanding on an almost weekly basis. I had resorted to throwing them all a-jumble in a Lululemon shopping bag, but it was getting pretty ridiculous. Now all my needles are snugly secured by different sized pockets, and the whole thing just rolls up.

My boyfriend said he found the basket and organizer on Etsy, and apparently it came with these massive buttons as a free add-on. Not sure what I will be able to use them for, but I love them!

Find a way to incorporate this enormous button into a knitting project? Challenge accepted. 

Also, my brother gave me a copy of Tanis Gray's "Cozy Knits" which has over 50 patterns for things like mitts, scarves, even sweaters.  The patterns mostly use chunky weight yarn which has been my favourite to work with! I'm looking forward to trying out several of the patterns. I'm particularly excited to try this sweater:

In most sweater patterns I've seen, they use small needles and light yarns, which requires more time, skill, and patience than I currently possess.  The nice thing about this pattern is it uses a chunky weight yarn with size 9 needles so I think its a good choice for my first attempt at a sweater. I've never tried the brioche stitch before, but I've already watched a couple YouTubes tutorials and it looks pretty straightforward. 

There's also a glossary in the back of the book which helps explain different bind-offs, cast ons, and stitches that are used throughout the patterns, which I imagine will be helpful as well!

In addition to receiving these lovely gifts from my family, I also gave a few finished projects as gifts this year! I made my brother a hat using the same pattern as my first alpaca hat, with a warm brown acrylic/wool blend.  I also made my Mom a seed-stitch infinity scarf, very similar to the one from my last post.   

I have to say, as someone who hasn't shown much aptitude for crafty endeavours in the past (grade 11 fashion class comes to mind...cringe!), it's a great feeling to be able to actually make a gift for someone! (And something they might actually dare to wear in public, no less...!)

All the knitting-related giving and receiving has really inspired me to keep trying new and more challenging projects in the coming New Year.  While I'm certain I have not encountered my last tangled skein of yarn or slipped stitch, they're getting fewer and farther between, and the progress I've made in just a few short months has been pretty rewarding!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmastime Knitting!

It's a seasonal miracle that somehow I went from having no clue what to get anyone for Christmas, to having all my shopping done within two weeks. I'm feeling pretty smug about it and to celebrate, I finished knitting my infinity scarf.

Okay actually I sort gave up on the first one I started with the size 11's because it wasn't significantly chunky enough. But I'd already committed a whole skein to it, so I just cast it off and it actually makes a pretty cute cowl:

But I was still determined to make a fluffy ultra-cozy infinity scarf, so I started again with Lion Bran's homespun thick and quick yarn, a super snuggley boucled yarn. It knits up very quick, and I comfortably finished one in a weekend. Here's the result!


I actually love it! It's extremely soft and comfy.  I got away with only using one skein by reducing the number of stitches to 21, and it still ended up 4 inches shorter than the patten recommends. I'm still able to wrap it around three times but it's pretty snug the third wrap around. I think I will primarily wear this as shown in the second picture.

At this point, I've knit quite a few little things but I'm feeling the urge to commit to a more challenging project. So what's next? Maybe not this sweater. Not yet anyway! But I hope one day!

As boring as it might sound, I think I might attempt a pair of socks. Why? Well, because as it turns out, knitting socks is friggin' complicated. And I think if I want to graduate to projects like sweaters, I'm going to need to climb a few rungs in knitting skill before I can get there. Not to mention having some cozy wooly socks might come in handy when trodding the cold kitchen floors this winter. 

And they *will* be cozy socks because I will not be knitting them with anything smaller than size 10 needles.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go snuggle with my new infinity scarf while I watch youtubes on how to knit a heel flap. With a martini. 🍸

Monday, 24 November 2014

Sick Day Knitting

Its been about a month of so since my last post. It's been a transitional time for me. I just changed to a new job two weeks ago, and for the past few days I've been fighting off a horrendous bug that's taking a slow and agonizing tour through my tonsils, larynx and sinuses.

But although these things have affected my blogging, they have not affected the actual amount of knitting! 

Normally I like to post about finished projects but this time it's more of a progress report. Originally I was going to blog about these awful fingerless gloves that resemble something a Neanderthal may have fashioned around the same time as the first bone chisel, but it's almost too embarrassing to share. Besides, they have since been banished to the topmost shelf of the coat closet which is my house's version of the Bermuda triangle. Mainly because I have trouble reaching it. 

Let's save that one for a rainy day.

Right now I'm working on a variation of this seed stitch infinity scarf. I had lots of time to work on it this past weekend while restrained to the couch with nothing else to do but pop pain killers and drink tea. It's a super simple and forgiving pattern since it's basically knit one, purl one x 2-3 balls of yarn. So far I've used up the yarn I had so it's only partially done:


Yep, pretty much a big grey rectangle. Tne pattern calls for size 17 knitting needles but the biggest I had on hand were 13s. I like how it's turning out but I might make another one using size 17s or maybe even bigger. I'm really into the ultra-chunky knits!

For yarn, nothing too fancy this time. I'm using Bernat Roving which is is mostly acrylic and can be found cheaply at Walmart. One thing I find about the cheaper yarns- you don't have to roll them into a ball. Wnich we know from experience can be a huge time saver. Also it knits up pretty soft and cushy, so I think it was a good choice.

Story time:  I was reluctantly getting my sick carcass ready for work this morning and decided to take a tea to go instead of my usual Nespresso, having found the tea more bearable to swallow Since getting sick. So I fire up the kettle and pour myself a tea in the ceramic travel mug I isually use for coffee. The mug has a rubber heat guard on it but the boiling water made even the rubber part too hot to hold. 

And I thought to myself, "if only I had something else to wrap around this so I could pick it up without giving myself a second degree burn. What am I going to do?"

And then, I remembered my first craftacular accomplishment:

I felt very smug indeed. It was the highlight of my day. Honestly.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Baby Alpaca Wool Hat!

A couple weeks ago when I was just discovering the kind of yarn junkie I am in danger of becoming , I bought this baby alpaca yarn just because it was so soft I had to have it. I didn't know what I could knit with it but it was enough just to have in my stash and snuggle with it from time to time .

That's right. Snuggling with yarn.

My next project was actually going to be these beautiful fingerless gloves with a merino/silk blend,  but I hit a snag. I didn't even get as far as to cast on the double pointed needles, which I was thoroughly intimidated by.  This was as far as I got on that project:

That's right. I can't even roll the skein into a workable ball of yarn. I'm ashamed to say that I spent the better part of a week trying to save this train-wreck but after all my efforts, the thin, fingering yarn finally snapped and I was left with an unsatisfactory sized ball and a giant tangled nightmare. I don't want to give up on it but let's just say I'm taking a hiatus from this project.

So, turning to my next piece in the Ravelry queue, I turned to the alpaca wool and attempted a hat.  It was my first completed project on circular needles. I chose Crazy Aunt Purls Brangelina hat. Way easier than I thought it would be, although I did the entire thing on circular needles instead of switching to the dpns as the pattern suggests , simply because I couldn't find size 11 dpns at my local walmart this morning. There was a lot of twisting and contorting the circular needles near the end but I got 'er dun!

I knitted this very casually over the course of three or four evenings.

Here's the finished product:

There's one part where I seriously messed up and dropped a stitch while knitting the ribbing. After I finished, I noticed there was a loop sticking out and in the process of unravelling. So I just tied a knot in that sucker and keep that part of the hat at the back- again, I ask: who is going to be staring at the back of my head? 

I am loving this wool though, it's like  having a baby alpaca snuggling my head. Great pattern too! I can see myself making more of these in the near future.

What should I knit next??