Sunday, February 15, 2015

New knitter notes

So, technically, I am not a new knitter. I've been trying to learn to knit for 30 years. Someone taught me the basics when I was a teenager and I can make scarves. I would try off and on (mostly off) for years and years but would get frustrated and give up.

In 2009, a lot of the art blogs I read, the artists were picking up knitting and I really wanted to learn. I even signed up for lessons, but never really could break through. When I moved back to the U.S., I had a friend who was a knitter and I made more scarves and starting exploring unique yarns. Still, only progressed to scarves with interesting patterns, and a few blankets. One small breakthrough in this I phase was that my friend encouraged me to learn continental knitting. I switched from English to continental through a YouTube tutorial. Much much easier on my hands. It takes about 1-2 weeks to get comfortable with holding yarn in the new way (a scarf or blanket project). It has been totally worth it for me.

Finally at the end of 2014, I suddenly "got it." The Internet is a fabulous resource for figuring out certain stitches and how to read a pattern. YouTube for showing me how to try different stitches.

I'm going to credit my friend for wanting a chunky neck warmer.

I had been shying away from heavier and chunkier yarns because I live in a warm climate in Florida. I need thin, light yarns, right? Wrong! I can still use chunky yarns in blankets! Bring on the chunky yarns!

This simple neck warmer taught me a whole bunch of things: how to read a pattern and adapt and fix mistakes. Plus chunky yarns are very forgiving. My seams on the three neck warmers are not very good but you can't really tell. In addition, these projects were very satisfying. It's s quick, one-skein, one-night knit. Boom! You're done!

With the chunky yarns, I made up a cape of my own design, knit top down... This is teaching me gentle shaping techniques without having to be precise yet. My tension is still inconsistent. Another benefits of chunky yarn is it hides or embraces inconsistent tension.

To sum up, if I were passing along notes to another new knitter:
- start with chunky yarns and bigger needles
- English method is easy to start with, but switch to continental style when you get serious

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Lizard Ridge Infinity Scarf

I pinned this gorgeous afghan on Pinterest and have been obsessing over it ever since I started knitting. I'm a color fiend. And when I start something new, I tend to mix loads of colors together. Seeing this afghan made me want to try it. This is Laura Aylor's Lizard Ridge Afghan. Laura is a beautiful knitwear designer. 

The yarns used in this pattern are also part of what make this pattern so spectacular. This is Noro Kureyon yarn. Eisako Noro is a true artist with the colors and Laura maximized the impact of these colors with this design. The yarn appeals to me because of it's organic nature. The mixes and graduations between colors, plus the inconsistency and organic thickness of the yarn. It knits up into a piece of art.

 Lizard Ridge Afghan by Laura Aylor

Here is my first piece. I used three different skeins of the Noro Kureyon and knitted them into an infinity scarf. Here it is posing on a piece of coquina at Marineland Beach in Florida. Don't you want to be the scarf?

I got loads of compliments in the first wearing. It is most definitely a conversation starter. I always test my pieces for feedback. And this one is a big winner. 

And while yesterday in Florida was 83 degrees F (with a tornado!), today it was in the 60's. Gotta take advantage of the coolish days to wear the pretty knits. 


I make my infinity scarves long enough to wrap around twice. 

Self-Imposed Knitting Apprenticeship

Since I'm in OCD mode on knitting, I've been buying yarn, supplies, patterns, and Pinning anything I love on my new Knitting and Crochet Pinterest board. I love the free-from crocheting, too. But, I'm restraining myself from exploring that until I get more basic skills under my belt with knitting. 

I got the idea to consider this deep dive into knitting an "apprenticeship" from Barbara Walker's book,  A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. I found this bit of information particularly interesting, "During the Middle Ages the famous 'knitter's guilds' -- which were, of course, composed entirely of men -- brought the art of knitting to a very high degree of refinement. A young man who wished to become a member of such a guild had to serve as an apprentice to a Master Knitter for a minimum of three years, and spend another three years year in travel, learning foreign techniques and patterns. After this, he had to pass a grueling examination, knitting a number of original 'masterpieces' of his own in a very short time, and then was admitted to the guild as a Master in his own right. The men of these guilds made exquisite garments that were worn by kings and princes, and every member of the nobility had his or her favorite Master Knitter, as well as a favorite tailor or dressmaker."

The internet makes this much easier in so many ways. If I get stuck on something, I can look it up and/or watch a video. I switched from English to Continental style knitting simply through watching a video. So cool. While I started with English knitting when I learned on my own, and I have taught this to my nieces because it's the easiest way to get started, I switched to Continental to ease the strain on my wrists. It has been much easier on my hands. 

Lizard Ridge Pattern - Skill Development Notes
  • Knitting backward - I'm noticing that while technically it's possible to knit backwards continental, it's more efficient for me to knit backwards English. I'm still slow, but I'm starting to get a better rhythm with it. I just couldn't get the proper tension with the Continental hold. It's still slower for me than knitting forward.
  • Steam blocking - I have the HomeRight Steam Machine. I used the hand-held with the squeegee attachment with the fabric cover. Works like a dream.
  • Reading the knitting (knowing where I did the wrap and turn without using a stitch marker). I'm not a big fan of the wrap and turn method. When I pick up the wrap, you can still see the stitch. I found some other methods to try to see if I can make that short row resolution more invisible.
  • Learning to adjust to mistakes. I tended to add a stitch. I think I figured it out with the wrap and turn I would accidentally turn it into 2 stitches. But, I learned how to just adapt and roll with the flow. The yarn and the pattern are very forgiving to mistakes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Current obsession... knitting

After 30 years of knitting scarves, I have finally graduated.

To blankets.

I'm a restless creative and must always be doing something with my hands. While traveling to New Zealand, when I got to the more relaxing part of the trip, we picked up yarn and I made an infinity scarf and three neck-warmers for my friends.

And as I do not do anything by half measure, I am now swimming deeply in the knitting pool.

Purl Soho

I've recently discovered Purl Soho and their beautiful yarns. I wanted to make a thank you gift for one of my friends. This beautiful merino was like knitting with a cloud. I love the graphic designer elegance to their patterns. I selected two of the Winterberry kits am knitting this into a bigger lap blanket.

I used the double seed stitch and did a variegated striped pattern.

This is still a work in progress. I'm waiting for the second kit to arrive to make the blanket longer.

You can't capture the luster and glow this yarn gives, but it's dreamy.

The colors they've chosen are flawless. I just love knitting with them.

I've also made some capes in chunky yarn. And 12-14 scarves. And 2 more blankets. Yep. I've been a knitting fool.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Trip of a Lifetime - Australia and New Zealand

I returned two weeks ago from a trip of a lifetime to the other side of the world - Australia and New Zealand. I would have loved to spend a lot more time there and traveled around the country more. This graphic is cool to put into perspective how big Australia is compared to the continental US. My travel was limited to Melbourne and Sydney for approximately 10 days. I also spent 10 days in New Zealand in Whakatane. 

Melbourne, Australia, Yarra Valley

These first two photos were snapped through the bus window.

I'm so happy I signed up for this coach tour. Seeing the animals that are unique to Australia was a big treat. 

I have to say, the platypus was my favorite. They are actually much smaller than I thought. (I love small animals, so cute.) This is Yammy, a female platypus. The males are venomous. (I didn't know that!) I have a video I'll post later.

A wallaby.

A wombat.

Sydney Opera House

A free cockatoo flying around Watson's Bay in Sydney. I've only seen captive Cockatoo's as pets. Made me happy to see them free.

This pelican hammed it up for the camera.

City of Sydney from Darling Harbour.

Moutuhura Island

Kerosene Creek

I didn't bring a swimming suit, but was wearing flip-flops. I waded into the heated waters. So inviting and relaxing.

Wairakei Dam near Taupo

Waikato River flowing from Lake Taupo

Moutuhura Island from Port Ohope, Bay of Plenty. Ocean Road, Seaview Road & Kohi Point Scenic Track.