Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You want me to do what to the purl?

RIP First Attempt at Baby Blanket
I have started the baby blanket....and quickly frogged the three rows I managed to do.  It's my first time using the seed stitch and I definitely was not paying attention during one spot because I had several purls in a row. 

The seed stitch follows this lovely alchemical formula:

Row 1: Knit 1, *Purl 1, Knit 1. Repeat from * across

Which means there is a lot of yarn carry over and the constant chant of "Knit the purl, purl the knit".  And every row starts with a knit. Which is where I goofed on row 2 of my blanket. I definitely purled the first row at some point.  Ooops....and then I tried to self-correct which did not go so well, either.  However, I can now say with utmost confidence that I will ALWAYS start my seed row with a knit.  Lesson learned. 

I'm going to be doing the main segment in the seed stitch...so this will probably take me a little while - although it will teach me how to use more than one skein of yarn, so that's exciting.  Therefore I might do a post or two on product review and store review (I recently made a trip to the yarn mecca known as Webs, which is aptly known as America's Yarn Store).  But, once I get the main portion of the blanket down I will be starting the hard part....so stay tuned for more info!

I noticed I had several new followers! Hi! Did you all find me from Ravelry?  

Friday, March 25, 2011

Finished Aquamarine Watch Cap

Isn't it cute?
 Ta da! My first hat is finished...complete with fuzzy wuzzy pom-pom.  Once I figured out what I was doing wrong with the K2togs, the remaining rows went by rather quickly.  I loved that I didn't need to bind off, but rather just pulled the tail of the yarn through the remaining stitches, tightened and pulled down through the hole.  Wove in ends, sewed on pom-pom and done. 

I cheated with the pom-pom.  I thought about making a pom-pom maker out of cardboard, but didn't have any lying around. So I purchased the Clover Pom-Pom maker, and had a lot of fun trying to figure it out. My cat got some of the failed pom-pom attempts as new toys.  I originally thought about making an all white pom-pom, but went with the choice to add in the aquamarine yarn from the hat. I love the result. and it's so fluffy (the white is a super soft merino wool). 

Things I Learned:

  • I love circular needles
  • I really like the Addi turbo circular needles <3
  • The magic loop confused me at first, but now I can't wait to make something else
  • That you don't need to purl while knitting in the round
  • K2Tog is an uncomfortable thing that leads to me making mutant stitches
  • Making pom-poms are ridiculously fun
  • With hats made on the magic loop, one doesn't need to bind off...hooray!
  • Loves hanging out at the Knitting Corner and Beadery and thinks Stephanie is an amazing, patient teacher

So, I think my next project is going to be a baby blanket for my cousin Ariel, who is expecting her first child in August.  It's going to be a Debbie Bliss pattern out of the Booties, Blankets and Bears book.  I don't know the sex of the baby yet, so trying to think of a three color combo in neutral colors. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let's K2Tog Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Alright so I might be humming the title of this post to the tune of "Let's Get Together, Yeah Yeah Yeah" from the original Parent Trap. 

I started making the decreases on my hat last night by K2Tog-ing which in non-knit speak means knit two together.  And I'm having a doozy of a time.  My teacher had to unravel most of the decrease rows I made today because I keep coming up with these mutant stitches. You know it's a bad sign when your instructor has no clue what you did wrong.  

Mutant stitch...there shouldn't be two stitches in one like that

As far as she can tell, she thinks I am knitting into the row below the stitch on the k2togs. Unfortunately, I can't tell I'm doing anything wrong until after I've already moved the stitch over to the right needle. Why oh why do knitting needles not come equipped with a delete button? And it's not every time I k2tog...it's only sometimes.  I thought I got the hang of it tonight, but I ran into the same problem. I have a doctor's appointment in the morning, and afterwards I'm going to have to swing by the store... Argh. I just wish I could stop making the mistake. 

I'm almost done with my hat too...I'm down to the last 9 rows. And once that's done all I need to do is add a pom-pom.  So. Close. 
Starting to look like a hat

Monday, March 21, 2011


I need to learn how to go in reverse (aka fix mistakes) while knitting. I made a wee little snafu in my hat yesterday. I split a stitch and didn't know what to do or how to undo it. It was the first stitch on the needle too.  So, as soon as Stephanie's class is over today I'm going to have to head over there (Darn....) and have her un-do the mistake so I can keep on knitting.

in other news, I have finally figured out what I was doing with the magic loop, and I now love, love, love, love, love, love (you get the idea) circular needles - I don't think I ever want to go back to the bamboo straight needles. I especially love the Addi Turbo needles.  I think I want to eventually buy (or ask for a Christmas present) an interchangeable set...but not sure if I want the Addi turbo set, or the much cheaper nickel plated ones from Knit Picks. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Amy and the Magic Loop

Tonight was my second knitting class and I feel accomplished :)

I am starting my class project which is a Roll Watch Cap out of the Yankee Knitter Designs Pamphlet written by Melinda Goodfellow. Mine will not be striped but instead is a solid aquamarine color (Reynold's Signature Brand Yarn).  I am also knitting it on a pair of circular needles...which is oh so confusing. 

The birth of a hat
I'm sure once I get the hang of it, I will love them. I'm already in love with the nickel plated tips.  However, at the moment I'm getting tangled up in the cord. I'm also having issues with the magic loop. Or mainly, threading the stitches back onto the needle after I finish half of the hat.  It's going to be a case of practice, practice, practice. And more than likely me haunting The Knitting Corner and Beadery begging for help. And I haven't even gotten to the decreasing yet.

Based on my small head, I casted on 98 stitches which is what the pattern calls for a child's medium.  I didn't go with an adult small, because Stephanie said that it's been pretty large for most of the ladies.  For the magic loop, after the 98 stitches are on the needles (which I had to re-count many, many times...) half of the stitches then gets moved to the other needle....and pulled off, so I can be connected in the round. Look mom, no seams! I then knit trying to pretend that my needles aren't joined by a thin plastic cord that likes to tangle up my hands and once I finish putting all the stitches on the other needle....I put the loose stitches back onto the other needle and remove them from the old needle. Rinse and repeat. Sound confusing? Oh, it is. 

Close up of the torture devices. 
Plus, I have to remember not to twist it all up once I put them back on the other needle. I'm told that once I have a couple of inches of fabric this won't be a problem, but for now it's a windy, twisty road.

I am also going to be starting a ribbed scarf for Momsy.  With the yarn she bought for me. With the intent that it get knitted into a scarf. She's subtle like that. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Loose Purls

I've been a little bit distracted this week from my knitting.  First and foremost, my heart aches for the natural disaster in Japan.  Those who know me, know that I think of Japan as a beloved adoptive country.  When I was in High School I traveled there twice and made many friends including my host family. I also have a lot of Japanese friends from college.  If I could, I would head over there in an instant to assist with volunteer work.  I wish the Japanese people and government the best of luck, and hope they are able to get back on their feet as soon as they can.  I urge those who can to donate to the Red Cross or other relief agencies, and for those who cannot to at least keep Japan in your thoughts and prayers. がんばって日本 (translation: Ganbatte Nippon = Best of Luck, Japan).

Secondly, I want to say a quick Hi to my new followers :) Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! It means a lot to me. I try to respond to every comment/question. 

Now...on to the knitting! 

I've realized that I tend to purl looser than I knit.  Which isn't a bad thing, considering I need to loosen my tension while knitting anyway.  However, I don't like the edging when I purl.  It seems loose and I don't like it.  And since I'm still new to purling I haven't messed around with my edges yet...so I haven't tried any special stitches to do at the start and end of a row.  

I hope as I get more comfortable purling, that my tension will tighten up slightly and that my edges will look better.  

Last post, someone asked me if I was using Clover bamboo needles in the picture I posted. Yes, I am :) Good eyes! Currently I only owe two pairs of bamboo needles. One is Clover (the size 6s) and the other is HKS (size 13).  Then I have a few assorted metal ones that I was given. I also have a size 7, 40" Addi Turbo circular needles.  I haven't been knitting long enough to get a preference for brands...right now I'm going for affordable.  

I'm also currently trying to find a project bag to keep my projects in while working on them. Right now I'm using a tote bag, but it doesn't have a flat bottom and it's not very large.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

K2P2 Rinse & Repeat

I'm thrilled that I decided to take the monetary plunge and sign up for the knitting class. I had my first one tonight and it was great! The instructor, Stephanie, is great and she taught me how to purl tonight. There were only two other women there, who already know the ins and outs of knitting. Listening to them talk made me feel like I was in Japan again overhearing a foreign language. 

Purling is...awkward. More so than learning the knit stitch.  I'm definitely not a fan of it, but know that it's a necessary evil. 

Stephanie had me do the stockinette stitch for a little while. That means one row is knitted, and one row is purled.  The result is very pretty! I then started with some ribbing. So knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches and repeat til the end of the line.  And on the next row, knit the knits and purls the purls and you get some pretty ribbing.  
Difference in stitching. The bottom rows are the garter stitch (all knit)
the middle rows is stockinette stitch (with the knit vs in the front)
and the top rows are me practicing with ribbing

I'm to practice with purling this week and next week will be my first class project....a hat! Which means I get to learn how to knit in the round on circular needles! So super excited. No more belly bruises LOL. I'm also going to try to figure out the swiffer cover...which according to the two women in my class I shouldn't bother doing because I won't want to dirty it...but I think it's very cute, green and fun. Plus, I have to make one or two for Kim :) 

The needles I'm using in the above picture are a size 6 bamboo needle and they are very very skinny and flimsy. Being a tight knitter, which I worked on loosening up tonight, I feel like every stitch is going to snap my little knitting needle like a twig. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Super Short Garter Stitch Scarf

So for something completely unrelated to Charlie Sheen getting das boot from one of my favorite shows, Two and a Half Men...I bring you the finished scarf!

My Super Short Scarf

Things I Learned:
  • The knit stitch is actually quite easy with the right yarn and rather therapeutic.
  • Binding Off sucks.
  • But a tapestry needle helps hold down a stitch when you leap frog over it to bind off.
  • When adding stitches to a pattern, make sure you have extra yarn to make up the difference.
  • You probably shouldn't get creative with a pattern until you get a little better at knitting.
  • It's highly addictive.
  • That when you knit in public people are curious and will not hesitate to ask you what you're doing.
  • Michael's has great yarn sales.
  • A scarf in progress makes a great cat bed. Or so my cat thinks. 
  • I tend to knit tightly, which might be problematic once I start making more difficult pieces.
  • Ravelry is a wonderful community of helpful knitters.

Close up of stitches.
When it is a continuous knit stitch,
it is called a Garter Stitch
All in all I had a great time making my scarf.  I enjoyed having something to do while watching TV and it kept me from stressing too much about my unemployed status.  I do wish it was a little longer, but that's my own fault, and when I went back to Michael's to see if they had more yarn in the same dye lot they did not. So thems the breaks.

I am now all set to learn how to purl..which will lead to the stockinette stitch and ribbing.  

Tomorrow, I signed up for a 4 week class (well, 3 week for me because I missed last week's class) at The Knitting Corner and Beadery in Middletown. The class is taught by Stephanie and it's $60 for 4 weeks. And it's your choice of Monday from 10 to 12, or Tuesday/Wednesday from 6 to 8.  Stephanie will teach you how to knit, and then will help you learn a project from start to finish.  I'm super excited, and can't wait to go! 

I might be jumping the gun, but I have all sorts of fun visions running through my head: fingerless mittens, hats, swiffer covers, socks and more. 

With the class, I'm not sure what project I will start, but I think my next project is going to be a Dust Mop Cover that was a pattern in last month's Knitting Today magazine.
Image courtesy of Knitting Today Magazine
We'll see what I choose! 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Project Linus

I will be posting the finished project post shortly, well, once I figure out how to bind off and weave in my ends. However, I wanted to mention something I just discovered at my local yarn shop that I think is going to be a mini-goal of mine.

While browsing a local yarn store, Knitting Needles, I discovered that it was a drop off location for Project Linus. As their pamphlet indicates, Project Linus is "a 100% volunteer...non-profit, national organization with a two fold mission:

  • Give new, handmade blankets to comfort seriously ill or traumatized children by a 'blanket hug'
  • Provide a rewarding service opportunity for local communities to benefit their local children."
So basically, one would knit, crochet, or quilt small blankets to be donated to children hospitals, local batter women's shelters, and even homeless shelters.  

The only requirement is that the blankets must be new, homemade, washable and safe. 

As soon as I read the pamphlet, tears came to my eyes. I thought 'What a great idea!' and immediately asked the shop employee how to get involved.  I told her that I was a new knitter who was looking to help and she said if I felt a blanket was too much too soon, I could donate small 8x8 patches that then can be stitched together to make a larger blanket by a local senior center that helps them.  

Linus approved!
I have decided that I am aiming to make one blanket every other month (or more if I can) to donate.  I have mentioned that my grandmother used to crochet. She passed away when I was 10, but some of my earliest memories of her would be with an afghan spread across her lap as she crocheted it.  I also had the fun job of helping her ball her yarn.  I still have my BRIGHT pink afghan she made me when I was little (I chose the two colors...bright pink and even brighter pink) and am usually curled up under it while I watch TV at night.  Therefore, every blanket I donate will be in the honor of my grandmother, Yolanda. 

For more information about this great organization, check here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Feel the Burn

My scarf in progress is almost a foot long!  I am loving it. The yarn is so soft and thick.  Can't wait to wear it around my neck. 

I feel like I am getting initiated into the knitting community and soon will have permanent calluses to mark my membership.  I am fairly certain I am getting a round size 13 needle bruise on my tummy from where I anchor my working needle.  I am not sure if this is a common malady? I will have to have the life partner take a picture of me while knitting...action shot! But basically, I almost have the needles at a 90 degree angle...with the right one straight down on my belly when I am moving the stitch from the left to the right...and then I kind of dig in the right needle into my belly when I push down the stitches to make room.  I'm sure this will pass once I get more of a hang and groove going on.

Ah, and let's not forget my poor right pointer finger which I stab repeatedly when trying to shove the left stitch off the needle to the right.  And my left wrist is starting to feel the burn.

Whine. Whine. Whine. 

But honestly, I love each little pain, and I know my hands will get used to it. Reminds me of that Simpson's episode where Marge teaches Lisa how to sew a quilt and she holds the flame of a lighter up to her finger and doesn't feel anything.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blame it on the Y-A-R-N

Eureka! I've got it!

And all it took was a change in yarn. 

I know, I know...to blame it on the yarn is like a baseball player blaming it on the bat, or a swimmer blaming it on his swim trunks. But I really do think the yarn was what was giving me such a hard time. Perhaps, the Sirdar's Big Softie was not a good choice for a beginner.  I found myself going through the yarn as opposed to under the yarn. 

I did not master the art of knitting while in Boston yesterday, though I had fun watching Rachel fly through it. She does the Continental style which is fascinating.  It looks so much faster than the English method I use.  But, I did teach her how to cast on correctly! So it was a win-win situation. AND I did manage to do one purl on her piece before I got motion sick on the T.

My first notion that I was using the wrong yarn came while in Boston.  Unfortunately, Boston is not NYC and things aren't open very late on Sundays so all the yarn stores we came across were closed.  So, I had to wait til this morning and I ran off to The Knitting Corner and Beadery in Middletown and Michael's.  I picked up some fun new yarns, and some more needles (Hey, Michael's had a sale...) and when I got home I put away the Sirdar's Big Softie and went eeny-meenie-miney-moe with my new yarns and landed on a skein of Lion Brand's Wool-Ease Thick and Quick in this delicious grey shade with flecks of brown and black.  

Look Ma! 3 Rows!

With trepidation I casted on 16 stitches (the pattern I'm using calls for 12 but it looked too skinny) and went to make the first knit stitch....and after I finished the first row, I looked at it and everything looked great so I went forth and kept on knitting. My poor bamboo size 13 needles have little scratch marks and grooves on the tips from my nails...they're getting broken in (and let's not forget the small little blister on my right pointer finger)

I brought my knitting to trivia tonight at the bar.  And I continued working on it while I watched tonight's TV shows that were recorded.  And now, my knitting is about the size of my hand....somewhere close to 15 rows! (Note to self: Eventually learn to count rows...might come in handy some day)

Sorry it's so dark, but my cell sucks for pictures

It's extremely satisfying watching the fabric grow in your hands.  And I love this yarn. It's so soft and cozy, I can't wait to drape it around my neck.