Twinning in Tweed

When I last updated, I included a green and brown tweed hat as part of my hat-knitting streak.

I’m happy to report I was able to turn around and make another one with the same colors, just in reverse order of the first. They’re soft and lightweight and absolutely perfect for fall.

So now I’ve got two tweed knit hats that would fit anyone from a child through tween/teen and it didn’t scare me off from working with tweed, even with the neps! 😀

I haven’t listed any of the knit hats in my Etsy shop yet; I haven’t decided if I want to do a whole shop restock when I amass a certain number or whether I want to do a trickle of listings.

did decide to list the knitted cowl I completed a little while back and an amigurumi squid I completed over the weekend. Check ’em out! Everything ships free within the United States.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend. It still feels like summer in my neck of the woods but we’re supposed to have actual fall temps a week from now. I can’t wait!

Knitting Frenzy

I have knitting news!

I invested in a couple of short circular knitting needles last weekend and in one week’s time, I was able to accomplish knitting two hats AND a pumpkin.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat.

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Remember when I first started learning to knit and all I wanted was to knit a hat? Well, I accomplished that via the magic loop/half loop method a while back, but then once I got my hands on some good shorties (I bought two bamboo ChiaGoo 16″ needles from a local yarn shop), I discovered how much more I enjoyed knitting in the round on the short circular and transferring to magic loop for decreasing. That’s not to say I won’t be using magic loop for sock knitting or making mitts down the road–those are still goals!–but for now, I seem to have unlocked a reliable method to whip out some hats.

I was also on the struggle bus with a rather simple knit pumpkin pattern but after some tries and fails, I busted out the new short circulars again and that helped a lot. (Plus, the designer was kind enough to answer my newbie knitting questions!) I didn’t think the acrylic yarn did as well on bamboo; a bit too much texture going on. But wool glides really well on the bamboo needles. That said, I understand why people amass a collection of different types of needles. I still want to get some more red lace ChiaGoo 16″ needles, among others.

Blue knit hat: women’s XL done in Knit Picks Chroma Worsted. Colorway is Weathervane but I believe it’s discontinued. Simple pattern from the Craftsy/Bluprint class on magic loop with Lorilee Beltman.

Green and brown tweed hat: unisex medium (would fit child/teen/petite woman) done in Knit Picks City Tweed DK. Colorways are Chipmunk and Sage — unsure if either or both are discontinued. Pattern is a FREE one from Ravelry called Bankhead and is quite popular!

Pumpkin: done in Knit Picks Brava Worsted (can you tell I have a lot of Knit Picks yarn to get through?). Colorway is Persimmon and I crocheted the stem in another colorway which I think is Dublin but I’m not 100% on that. Pattern is available on Ravelry and Etsy for a low price. I learned a lot with the pumpkin because I learned how to knit a large tube in the round and then sew up the ends. Nothing wrong with leveling up on sewing skills!

I need to give my hands and wrists a rest but I’m already scheming up what to work on next!

 

 

The Two-Year Knit Hat Project

By now, all seven of you who read this blog know that I started my journey into learning to knit in 2017. I practiced and practiced and practiced. And then I practiced a whole bunch more. I knitted and frogged, knitted and practiced binding off (horribly), and swatched until I couldn’t swatch anymore.

Since knitting hasn’t come as naturally to me like crochet did, I had to work even harder to get a comfortable muscle memory going to where I could knit without wanting to throw something.

I got into making washcloths, then a knit scarf for my husband, a small baby blanket (which I still need to post about!), and even a cowl, which turned out really well. I made so much more progress in the first 18 months of knitting than I thought I could or would.

However.

HOWEVER.

I have watched other people new to knitting start whipping out hats immediately and I’m wondering, what am I not getting? Why can’t that be me? What’s the secret? I basically took up knitting in order to make hats and two years in, nothing.

Part of the frustration for me has been that I don’t want to work with double-pointed needles. I wanted to learn the technique that would allow me to decrease without using a whole bunch of extra sticks. In addition to watching several YouTube videos on Magic Loop, I bought a comprehensive class on Craftsy (now Bluprint) with Lorilee Beltman, one of my favorite teachers I’ve found there, and I proceeded to watch the lessons on getting a hat completed a couple dozen times.

There are so many elements to knitting in the round that present tricky situations: which type of circular needle you use, joining, decreasing, which tools you’ll use to decrease, and finishing your hat so there aren’t any holes, to say nothing of keeping an even tension. A friend pointed out I could have tried knitting flat and then seaming, but I have tried my hand at that with other crafts (Tunisian crochet, for one) and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. Completing a knitted hat in the round was the goal.

At last, something clicked after I finished some of my other projects, and I felt I was ready to try the half-loop method, followed by decreasing with Magic Loop. I swatched and made sure my gauge would be similar, if not exact, prepared my needles, and got started.

I swear, I almost stopped before I’d even finished round 2, because I had messed up something with the join. It didn’t click until round 2 or 3 but once I was under way, I kept on going and didn’t look back. I was nervous to try decreasing and moving into Magic Loop but I plowed onward.

Somehow, some way, a hat came together. I watched a separate video on Craftsy (a free one for Chemo Caps) on properly binding off the last 8 stitches and sewing the hole shut. Once I did that, I was finished. And then I couldn’t actually believe I was finished.

One final thought is that I found it odd that even though I used a smaller needle for the brim (k2, p2 all the way around for 2.5″), it’s looser and looks bigger than the knitting in the round for the remainder of the hat with a larger needle. That stumps me.

Something else to figure out, I’m sure! (If you’re experienced and can speak to that, please leave a comment!)

For now, I’m reveling in the fact that I accomplished a MAJOR goal of mine with knitting in the first month of the year, so I hope to continue the streak of challenging myself for 2019. Ultimately, I want to do some color work and a fair isle hat someday, but…one thing at a time. I mean, I still haven’t made that wreath I blogged about in 2017, either! (Whoops.)

If you are a hat knitter and can share any favorite patterns, please do!

Luminosa Cowl and Happy New Year!

Earlier in the year (2018), I ventured to a nearby city and visited two independent yarn shops. At the second one, I found a cowl made with some gorgeously soft and also shiny yarn. The shop owner told me it was Luminosa by Cascade. She also pointed me in the direction of the free pattern, which is this one here, if you’d like to try it yourself!

Her cowl was done in pink and a brighter teal. They were out of the teal but I picked up the pink and a darker black and blue, which I thought would let the pink shine but still give a nice balance of color.

Still very new to knitting, as I only began to learn in 2017, I was nervous about the pattern and the fact that I dropped $40 on two hanks of yarn. It helped that the kind shop owner caked the hanks for me, so I could pick them up and start the project more easily.

Determined, I did pick up those cakes of yarn and got started not too long after this shopping trip, since I wanted to try something that would allow me to practice knitting in the round without worrying about decreasing (a hat I have YET to complete!). While it took me a while to completely finish the cowl, since I let it sit finished except for bind-off for about two months, I was extremely pleased when all was said and done. There were definitely some challenges along the way, as the purl-2-together was tricky for me, but I plowed through.

You guys…it is SO pretty and it is incredibly soft! Due to its size, it has some versatility with how it can be worn, but simply draped around one’s neck and shoulders looks lovely.

I’m still deciding whether to keep it for myself or list it in the shop. I put the Etsy shop on vacation over the holidays and now that I’m coming up on FIVE years of being an Etsy seller, which is nuts, I have started to think about where I want to take things with my craft and if I want to do occasional restocks versus having mostly made-to-order listings. More to come on that front.

If you are newer to knitting as I am, or if you are a yarn addict and need some inspiration for a project, grab some of this delicious yarn and maybe give this pattern a try. I would absolutely make another of these — but now I’m working on all the practicing of hats. 2019 is going to be The Year of the Knitted Hat!

❤ P.S. I also tried a technique I saw on Facebook from Petals to Picot about binding off with a crochet hook and once I tried that, it cleared the path for me to more easily and quickly finish knitted projects from here on out. It’s so comforting to know I don’t have to let things sit, lest they be ruined with terribly done bind-offs!

Knitting Update: We Have Dishcloths

When I last wrote on learning how to knit, I was swatching like mad.

Eventually, you wear yourself out on swatching, and you have to dive in and make an actual thing.

The month of July witnessed me making three dishcloths. I didn’t think they’d all been this month, but when you diligently record your projects in Ravelry, the details don’t lie.

This bright orange item that resembles a square now sits in my kitchen sink, and was my first official knitted project:

I didn’t block it, and because it’s done on the diagonal, one has to be careful about how one decreases, which is more difficult than increasing, which is a simple yarnover. I have higher hopes that the next time I tackle this design, it will look a bit more polished.

Then of course you have the hole in the middle, which I didn’t know how to fix. Still don’t. I don’t know what to do with dropped stitches and, so far, any mistakes I made either live in the project or I have to frog all the way or most of the way back; this is completely unlike crochet, where mistakes are easier to fix when you catch them right away. (+1 crochet)

After the orange thing, I graduated to attempting a chevron washcloth from Very Pink Knits. It’s quite pretty and I love that it’s reversible. In fact, I’m not really sure which side is supposed to be the front.

I don’t actually have a photo of it, just a video from Instagram, which you can see here.

That one ALSO had a mistake in the middle (what’s with me and doing that?) and I didn’t know how to fix it. Trust me when I say that I had to frog along the way, but only when I was catching the mistakes mid-row.

My most recently completed dishcloth is this ZickZack design from KnitPicks:

What I like about it is that it’s easy, with just knits and purls, and a simple row counter app on my phone helped me stay on track. I didn’t have to frog nearly as much mid-row, and lo and behold, I don’t have any holes in it! The toughest part for me was binding off, which I still need to perfect. This one got blocked and looks terrific. I’m thinking of making more to do bundles for the Etsy shop.

Little aside: I was encouraged by my cloth-making when a friend of mine tagged me on Facebook, who said she loved her (crochet) spa cloth that I made for her, as it was done up with KnitPicks Shine Sport, which is made from Pima cotton and bamboo. I can attest that they do make for seriously luxurious washcloths.

Last but certainly not least, what has contributed to my success in knitting has been investing in some better needles, specifically circular ones. My ultimate goal is to be able to make things in the round, namely hats and mitts and things, and I have hit some hard potholes going down that road so far. I am currently working on my Magic Loop skills, which I hope will be the key to my success in finally whipping up a hat. Stay tuned.

In sum, I have gone from ultimate frustration with loads of epithets and claiming I would never be able to “DO this,” to swatching, to attempting a dishcloth, to actually making a dishcloth that is attractive and doesn’t have any holes or other unsightly mistakes.

This crocheter is on the knitting path. If any of you readers are also experienced knitters, or just learning like me, I’d love to hear any stories, tips, or anecdotes you may have.

Cheers!

The K Word, or: Knitting Is Hard

Last year, my mother brought me a bunch of things from her abode that she was ridding herself of; a large bag she gave to me yielded a bunch of knitting needles in all sizes and textures, some magazines from the 70s and 80s, and some really old yarn that I ended up pitching.

I didn’t pay much attention to this horde of items for a while. I loftily thought that maybe, maybe one day, I would “pick up” knitting when I had more time .

Turns out, I don’t have more time. No one does. But I got to a point where, after organizing my things and putting the knitting stuff in its own cubby in my craft room, that I noticed a seed had been planted in my brain. I know a few knitters from a local crafting group I’m in, and I have one or two friends who have dabbled in knitting.

Aside: while there would appear to be a fierce “rivalry” of knitting versus crochet, I prefer to think of the yarn arts as inclusive, and we’re all doing something to express ourselves creatively, no matter what it is.

In any case, after the planted seed had sprouted some teeny tiny roots, I decided to do some research online to see what was available for those wanting to learn to knit.  A couple of women in my group had commented about Continental knitting being easier to learn for crocheters like myself, since you don’t “throw” the yarn, but “pick.” I was intrigued.

During my initial research, I came across this well worn (but very useful) demo of Continental knitting by a woman named Lorilee Beltman:

It’s not a HD video but Lorilee shows how sprightly one can knit and even specifically mentions that when crocheters want to learn to knit, learning the Continental method makes sense for them.

The little seed grew a few more roots, and I personally contributed somewhere between 5-10 views of that video as I continued my research in how I would learn this new craft.

As fortune would have it, Craftsy not only has a Continental knitting course, but it is taught by none other than Lorilee herself. (Right now, it appears to be 50% off at $20, which is a bargain! I heard on a podcast with Lorilee that she had to pitch Craftsy three times on teaching Continental knitting before they finally said yes. I’m glad she persisted, because she’s truly a fabulous teacher.)

I took a deep breath, snatched up the course, grabbed some straight needles from the pile in my craft room, and began to watch and learn. Truth be told,  I had some concerns before starting that I would go down the rabbit hole and abandon crochet for long periods of time as I spent money and time on this new skill. Fortunately (or not?), I found knitting to be HARD, and so I have been forced to slow down, take breaks, and relax my brain with crochet in between bouts of learning how to knit.

When you start learning a skill such as this in your late thirties, it is decidedly not the same as learning something in your teens. I don’t know if it’s the learning curve or some by-product of age, but it just hasn’t come to me the way crochet did. I’d like to just make the blanket statement that crochet is easier than knitting (an opinion I hold) but I don’t think it’s as black and white as all that. I was practicing a knitting swatch with a seasoned knitter a couple of weeks ago, and she told me that for her, crochet is not relaxing, and her hands grip the hook very tightly. The opposite is true for me. Crochet is extremely relaxing and my personal technique does not make my hands hurt, though if I sit for too long with a bigger project, such as a blanket, I can make my arms and shoulders ache a bit with overuse.

All that aside, learning a skill that takes using both my hands at the same time is similar to learning piano. I *did* take piano starting at a young age, and despite having hundreds of hours of practicing scales in my lifetime, it did not prepare me for the knitting experience.

Since I am a firm believer in mind over matter, I expected to come to knitting similarly (but perhaps with a bit more difficulty) as I did with crochet. I didn’t learn to make amigurumi overnight, and it took a few dozen animals before I hit my stride (mostly with the sewing aspect, but still). In the past four weeks, I have hit frustration levels where I thought I won’t be able to do this, and have come close to tossing in the towel. (I mean, casting on and getting through ONE row of knitting took ages!)

Perhaps it’s Lorilee’s teaching style — which is not only thorough and well done, but Lorilee has a warm and personable sense about her — but I stuck with it, and I have learned the knit stitch and the purl stitch, and am on my journey of swatching. And swatching. And swatching.

A heap of swatches

I even joined a couple of knitting-help groups on Facebook to provide assistance where I get stuck along the way. Two examples are: attempting to make a swatch of seed stitch was really messing with my head, since I kept knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls, creating ribbing (or some mashup of stockinette) — I had to learn how to identify the stitches when I turned my work, which is still a work-in-progress; creating a selvedge (selvage) that wasn’t just a knotted mess when I would turn my work and would create a chained look. To be honest, creating the selvedge in Tunisian crochet proves to be much easier. (Tunisian crochet, in general, is easier to learn, in my opinion, but it does have some limitations.) Why learning knitted slip stitches is hard is beyond me, but that was another challenge I’m slowly learning.

The TL;DR version of all of this is that I find learning even basic things difficult with knitting.

Little by little, I’m getting there, and my hands are slowly less achy, and I’m getting a bit quicker. When I get to the point where I’m asking, “Now what?” is when I might try to learn to read a knitting pattern, or follow a simple pattern via YouTube, as I did when I was first learning to crochet and made baby hats. I suspect the first thing I’ll actually make will be a washcloth or a potholder of some kind, but that will also entail investing in a set of circular needles. I have begun to abandon the straight needles, as I find them a bit too long and unwieldy with Continental knitting (a point Lorilee makes in the class, and she’s right). Practicing on my plastic needles with acrylic yarn was a terrific way to have some friction while learning hand placement and getting tension. But I have finally moved on to needing the slippery-ness of steel/aluminum needles, and circular ones at that.

The journey continues, my friends! We’ll see if I become a knitter yet!

Question for readers: Anyone else bi-stitchual?  😀  Anyone else learn knitting first and then crochet, and find crochet more difficult than knitting?