A Red Herring – or why I don’t like cables

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I have to admit it – I’m not a big fan of knitting cables. Don’t get me wrong – I love to look at them and I’d love to have an Aran sweater. But please don’t ask me to knit one!

Why, you might ask? When sweaters with cables and all manner of twisted goodness seem to be all the rage and the one thing most knitters aspire to?

I can sum it up in one word: fiddly. Cables are fiddly. Slip x stitches onto a cable needle, hold in back (or front), then knit x stitches from left needle. Then knit the x stitches from the cable needle – then do it all over again. Fiddly.

Give me lace, lots of lace under starry skies above…..

Well – I do like knitting lace. BUT – not Granny lace. I like it chunky – like this one:

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Pardon the dog hair… that was Max. I worked on this when I was dog-sitting.

I also like this:

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I love this one but all those Vikel Braids like to have killed me!

Or the one at the top – which I don’t really consider lace – just a simple net pattern. But it works, y’know.

I even knit lace on the legs of my socks.

Funny thing is – I didn’t realize it was ‘lace’ when I did the first one. I had made the foot of the toe-up sock and was looking for something a little more interesting to do for the leg than a rib and I just picked out a pattern from one of my books. Then, when I took it to my next sock class my instructor smiled and said something to the effect of ‘oh, you’re a lace knitter…’ and the appellation kind of stuck. To me its just a series of knits, yarn overs and purls – nothing complicated. I guess that’s why I don’t fear it. Especially once I learned to read knitting charts, then it all fell into place for me.

Also when my instructor ‘gave me permission’ to use markers in between the pattern repeats – can I tell you that was an ah-ha moment??  At first I thought it was a sign of weakness to have to mark your pattern repeats. The sure sign of a novice. Now I don’t care! Look askance at me if you will, but I love my markers. More than once they’ve saved me when I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

So, when I saw that pattern at the top – called Herring by Lori Versaci, and saw the bright red Malabrigo worsted in my stash it was, for me a match made in heaven. Chunky fishnet lace set off by a ribbed border – fun! And no need for markers this time because it’s just a two-stitch repeat!

And not a single cable in sight…..

Crafting Small

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I finally have a little time for reflection after the craziness of my move and the push to get a working office and kitchen. Time to go through the rest of my boxes at leisure and sort, weed, organize and store a bit more thoughtfully. One thing that’s occurred to me was about my craft stash. Not yarn – that’s a completely different animal… But the other stuff.

Besides being a knittist and yarnie I also sew, bead, weave, paint and digitally scrapbook – and those are just the main ones! I also dabble in the occasional paper craft. All these activities has its own STUFF.

Sewing: sewing machine, serger, buttons, measuring implements, thread, needles (hand and machine), machine attachments, fabric, binding tapes, scissors…

Beading: beads (lots and LOTS of beads), beading wire, beading thread, tools (lots of different tools and all unique to beading), findings (if you’re making jewelry), bead looms

Painting: paints (yeah – lots of ’em), canvases, brushes, easel, paint knives, prep chemicals (don ‘t know what else to call them, gesso and that stuff)

Paper Crafting: I got rid of most of this (gave to my sister who does scrapbooks and cards) but I still have a few stamps and stamp pads, some paper

Digital Scrapbooking: scanner for the mountain of photos I have that are NOT digital, and said photos awaiting scanning.

So its time to pare down. Get rid. Donate.

I realized that I have 12 boxes of crafting stuff – not including yarn. That’s excessive – and compulsive. I like tools. I like gadgets. But nobody needs as much as I have.

I’m guilty of taking on STUFF from other people – like after my sister-in-law’s mother passed I somehow came into possession of a lot of her fabric, laces, buttons and basically stuff that nobody knew what to do with. This stuff needs to leave my place because I will never use it.

I’m guilty of buying a new thing when I couldn’t find the original thing (totally due to poor organization). Or buying a new thing because the old thing was somehow lacking – it was bent (although still usable), it was stained (yeah, like that’s going to affect how a tape measure measures), it’s paint had worn off (although the etched surface markings were still visible)… you get the idea.

Well, now I have a very different space. It’s large, yes, but I don’t want to have it swimming in stuff I don’t need/will not use. I want to be able to find what I want quickly – without having to dig through a lot of bins and deep storage pieces (like Yule/holiday decoration deep).

I have a large work table under which will nicely fit 3 IKEA carts. These will contain the sum total of my craft supplies (maybe 2 after I weed it down) with the exception of fabric, which will still need a bin. The aim is to tame!

From this:

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some of my craft stash

To something more akin to this (this is still a WIP, but it really is much better than it was. I also had a lot of duplicate spices!):

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spice and tool organization for a kitchen with wonky cabinets and drawers

Time to catch up again…

Wow – it seems I can’t get up to date and stay there! It’s been furious these past few months with lots of knitting and activity, and very little time spent just reflecting and writing. Because that’s what this is for me – it’s my time for reflection.

So, on to the updates!

Alexander

My new Grand Nephew

This adorable little guy is my new grand (great?) nephew, Alexander William. Born on March 24th at around 9pm. His poor mommy had a tough time and he had to finally be taken by C Section, but everyone is doing just great now. He was just a couple days after what would have been Mom’s 97th birthday. She would have gone nuts over him! As it is his Gramma Cheryl is the conductor on the baby crush train.

There was a lot of this:

two color ribbing brioche

Learning new techniques – on the left is 2 color corrugated ribbing and on the left is brioche stitch. They are both for fun KAL’s (knit along) on Ravelry. Those can be really fun groups with a lot of people working the same pattern so there’s lots of support and encouragement.

By far my favorite group is Friends of Knitting Sarah. The absolute best, most supportive group of knitters short of my local yarn shop. They are funny, give great advice and share their experiments and success with gusto.

Undulation scarf

A tiny bit of designing. This is a scarf that I call Undulations. I had the pretty yarn and saw the pattern as I was flipping through a stitch dictionary. I figured out the repeats, cast on some stitches and whipped a little scarf to wear with my blue suit.

And of course socks…

becky socks

and socks…

dragonfly socks

and socks…

tracey socks

and still more socks!

VBM socks

And now I’m moving – yet again!! As my friend Ken says – fun times! So I may not have a chance to catch up again until next month – after the move has been accomplished. But I hope you enjoy the photos and – if you can think good thoughts for me as I pack up again.

Sometimes I think I should just put my furniture on wheels…..

Wow – that went fast!

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Seems like just a couple of months ago I jotted down some thoughts, now I look and BAM! It’s been months! No excuses really, except life. It was a full summer, then I moved and now I’ve finally set up my Mac – lots going on.

And I have no real thoughts or wisdom right now either. Except that its cold. Like really cold. Like COLD! And I think the tires on my car are flat because I don’t drive it more than once a week or so. And Moon keeps jumping up on my desk – he wants something, I just can’t figure out what it is.

And I’m going to be a great-aunt! Nick and Liz are having a baby boy.

And I have a LOT of yarn! 10 IKEA bins full plus 5 sweater bags… I so gotta stop buying yarn and start knitting it, ya think? I didn’t realize how much I had until I moved and put my yarn storage in the living room – wow. I thought time went fast – so does stash building! That feeds into my resolution – no more yarn until at least 3 of those 5 sweaters is done and I knock down at least 3 bins. Its going to be a challenge, yes – but I’m up for it. No more buying patterns either. I keep looking for ‘that perfect pattern’ for me, but how will I know one if I’ve only knit one sweater? I need to make a few more, so I know what looks good on me and how to alter a pattern to fit better. I joined a KAL on Ravelry – a sweater in the month of January – that should help. Plus its being run by the designer – I’ll be able to ask questions right away and get answers – that’s kind of exciting.

And I need to shut the computer down and have dinner… toodles!

Dang – I lost it!

Have you ever made something then promptly lost it? Has it ever just twisted your nose? Well that’s how I feel. Mainly because this time I was a good girl. I did the proper steps, in the proper order and dang if it isn’t gone.

My gauge swatch.

I lost it.

I made a nice sized gauge swatch in 3×3 ribbing, which is what the majority of this new top I’m making is knit in. Nice size, about 6″x6″ unblocked. Then, following my instructor’s advice I put it in the wash with the other stuff I would normally wash at that cycle and temp. When I put the stuff into the dryer I completely forgot about it until I was back at work (I work from home, so I try to do laundry on lunch and breaks – it’s usually a nice walk down to the laundry room and back). I figured that, if it came out really bad I could make another. But when I took my clothes out of the dryer it wasn’t there. I folded my t-shirts, but it wasn’t clinging to one of them. I folded my towels, unmentionables, camis – nanda – it wasn’t even hanging onto my microfiber dish cloths – and those suckers stick to EVERYTHING. I was so bothered I walked back down to the laundry room to see if I dropped it but didn’t notice and a big NOPE on that one.

Oh I know I can make another. It’s just the principle of it. It’s like the poor single sock – used to being a couple and now on its own and lonely. Dryers shouldn’t eat clothes.

Or swatches!

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Until they go wrong, of course….

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Take a look at the sock on the bottom. Pretty snazzy, huh? And it’s a lovely yarn by Claudia and Co in a colorrway called Tropicana.

Now look at the sock on the top. Also by Claudia and Co – this one called Kelly Girl.

A lot of the same colors, no? Greens, pinks, yellows – beautiful sunny colors! On the skein they looked like they might go well together because there was only one skein of each. Well, the colors are okay, but the striping pattern – that’s another story. The Tropicana falls in narrow stripes that change often. The Kelly Girl not so much. No, Kelly Girl decides she will form wider stripes. Its lovely- watermelon-y stripes and I love them, but they do not go with Tropicana.

So now I’m sunk. My only option unless I ant to look like a crazy homeless person is to rip them both out and find a base color to combine them with.

Oh well… the boys still love me, even if my socks don’t match… I think.

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On knitting classes

The moment I saw that Cream City Yarns was going to have a class on knitting the Spud and Chloe Camp Hoodie I knew I had to take it. It has a technique that I’ve long wanted to learn but long dreaded: stranded colorwork. EEK!!! Me? Colorwork?? Me? Who recently found out that, after 40 years of knitting I’ve been doing it wrong?

That’s a story…. I took the Sock Class at Cream City Yarn to learn how to properly knit a sock. I’d made them, but they didn’t fit right and I always seemed to have a hole where the gussets joined the heel flap and I knew that wasn’t right.

So we were going on very well, knitting along the increases of the toe (I knit socks toe up using the Magic Loop technique), then knitting straight on the foot. More increases for the gussets, then a patch of straight knitting – back and forth, knit then purl. I was working on a knit row when the instructor perred at me for a moment and said softly in a horrified voice ‘Jude – you’re knitting through the back loops!’ And I’m like, “Um… yeah…’ (see I wasn’t exactly certain of what a back loop was…). So she explained to me why this was bad, then took a look at my knitting and found that, even though I was knitting through the back loops I was correcting my stitches in the purl row – so my stitches weren’t twisted as they should have been. Then she taught me the correct way to form my stitches.

So I was surprised that, after learning the correct way to knit and purl I still wanted to take classes. But having the instructor point out my error (and she did it in the nicest, most helpful way – totally non-threatening) just gave me the drive to learn it the correct way. No – not just LEARN how to do it, but to MASTER it.

And now, thanks to that gentle correction I’m fired up to learn stranded colorwork. Granted, it’s not a complex design, just 3 rows of a checkerboard pattern, but the technique is what I needed. I’d tried it before, but the fabric was so tight that it was unwearable. Now I wanted to learn how to do it right so that I could make a piece that would be not only beautiful, but wearable.

Eureka!! Colorwork!!
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Have I said how much I love to knit socks?

ImageIt’s funny – a few short years ago – like maybe 2 I started knitting socks. Now I’ve been knitting for almost 30 years – never took a class – completely self-taught, but I always felt that socks were kind of beyond my skill to understand. All those needles (5 of them!) and such tiny sizes – size 2, size 1 size 00??? What the heck is a a size 00 even? Kitchener Stitch?? Whaaaat?

A couple years ago I heard a rumor that you could knit socks with a circular needle – one really long circular needle. And start at the toes!! See, that’s the beauty of the internet – you sometimes stumble across things you never knew existed. So I decided to give it a try.

I managed… sort of. I stopped by a local yarn shop during one of their stitch and bitch nights and a very kind lady there explained the process to me, helped me pick out a needle and showed me a really cool cast on. Then the night was over and I was on my own. I never went back – I could never make the hours work with my schedule, so I plowed through on my own. I made a couple pairs of socks – not great ones, but wearable.

In the course of the next 2 years I moved back here to Wisconsin and quit smoking. BAM! Just decided that I didn’t like the taste anymore and put them down. Consequently I had a lot of hours and nothing to do with my hands. It wasn’t that I wanted a cigarette especially – but I was BORED and I needed something to occupy my mind and my hands.

So I found a yarn shop here in WI that offers classes and that HOWDY – that was it. The real start of my passion for socks. I made 2 pair in class and so far 2 additional pairs. Now I feel much more secure in my sock-making skills.

Except for one thing: I found out that I knit backward! But that’s a story for another time….