Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tidy mind, tidy stitches.

Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches. How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

My stash is primarily organized by weight and fiber content. When I'm starting a new project, I can look at similar yarns together to pick out the right color and texture.

I have threads, baby weight/colors, and sock weights (for a variety of projects) in an IKEA drawer unit...

Acrylic worsted and bulky (great for charity projects and amigurumi) in an under-bed storage container...

Miscellaneous yarns (great for freeform and smaller projects) in/next to a basket on a shelf...

Not as large as some stashes that I've seen, but it's a good start.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skill + 1UP

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

I'm a new knitter. I've been crocheting for a long time, but picked up knitting recently. I found it hard to get started, since my hands were so used to having 1 stick and holding the yarn and project a certain way.

I just can't do the English method. I kept dropping everything. After struggling with it for a while, I tried the Continental method. That was a little better. I was actually able to get a few stitches done, though it took a while. Slowly, my hands adapted to this stranger and started to become friends with it. At one point, I even found it meditative to have to focus on the basic stitches. Crocheting I can do while watching TV, listening to a podcast, or several other things. When I started knitting, I had to stop my brain and focus on the stitches. It also made me appreciate how far my crochet skills had come. When I started crocheting as a child, it was also slow and something I had to concentrate on. Now, it's second nature.

So, when I got frustrated with my lack of progress when knitting, I'd switch to crochet. I still switch back and forth between the two a lot. However, these days, it's more about giving my hands a different motion to work on than switching between the focus of knitting or ease of crochet. My knitting skills have gotten a lot better, so I can relax with it more. I've even taking on knitting two sweaters (baby sweaters for a gift) and I think they turned out really cute.

One is Baby Sophisticate by Linden Down (available on Ravelry):

The other is Cabled Raglan Baby Sweater by Rebecca L. Daniels (available on Ravelry):

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns (2KCBW)

Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

When I first got back into crocheting, I didn't understand all the differences between yarns (aside from color and price). I knew that yarns with different thicknesses would affect the size of an object, so when substituting yarns, I would pick another in the same category (one worsted weight for another, for instance). But, all worsted weights are not equal. There's a small range of thicknesses within worsted, plus the fiber content can affect the drape and final look of an object. There are other factors, like spinning technique, that also has an impact, but I don't worry about that too much at this point.

I had picked up Debbie Stoller's Happy Hooker book (which I highly recommend) and decided to make the Violet Beauregard skirt. The original pattern uses a cotton yarn. I decided to use Lion Brand Homespun, because I liked the softness and texture.

This was the first time I used LB Homespun and it was a little difficult to get started. The texture of this yarn made it hard to work consistently into the chain; it was tough to find the loops, since the yarn is a squiggly. But, I got into a groove and was able to work through the initial problems. Once I had a few rows established, it became much easier to work into the stitches.

After completing the skirt, I found that it was much heavier than expected. The weight of the skirt couldn't be properly supported by just the waistband. Bummer. I had spent a lot of time making it and now I couldn't wear it. It also would stretch a bit, so even if I cinched it very tight at my waist, I didn't trust that it would stay up. So, I frogged it.

I then tried making a different pattern from Happy Hooker with LB Homespun, FrouFrou. This worked out better for me. Because a sweater goes over your shoulders, instead of just hanging around your waist, the weight of the yarn was better supported and I didn't have to worry about it falling off (the sleeves help too. :) ). It's still grown a bit, but not as much as the skirt and having this sweater a little longer in the back works with this design. I also use LB Homespun for afghans and shawls. I think it's a great yarn, but no yarn will work for every project.

I did end up making a different skirt with different yarn. I reinyarnated an alpaca/wool/nylon/acrylic blend from a thift-store sweater. Using a bias technique I learned at a Lili Chin workshop, I designed my own skirt. It's warm, but not too heavy for a skirt.

Now, I have a much greater appreciation for the variations in yarn and how they can affect our finished objects and our satisfaction or frustration with them. Early on in a project, I stop and look at how the object drapes and hangs. I've also started swatching more than I used to. Swatching is really the best way to test run a pattern and yarn to make sure of having the right combination, before investing a ton of time and yarn.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week

I stumbled upon Knitting and Crochet Blog Week on Eskimimi Knits blog. I think it will be a good way for me to get my blogging mojo going. If you have a blog or have thought about starting one, check it out.

I doubt I can post every day during this week, but I'll either set up posts ahead of time to automatically post on the scheduled day... or I'll extend it over a few weeks. It's set up in a very encouraging/flexible way, which I appreciate. I did read through the daily topics (they're hidden for those that want to be surprised each day) - they have some good concepts in there. I'm already getting ideas...

Happy Blogging!