Monday, February 09, 2009

What's going on in my knitting bag

Excuse me while I blow the dust off this blog...

I started this blog a few years ago so that I could keep track of my projects. I'd been knitting for 20 years and had almost no photographic evidence of the hundreds of items I'd knit. The blog was a big help to me in keeping track of what I was working on, but I was never a prolific blogger, and there were plenty of projects that never got documented. Then Ravelry came along, and my whole world changed. It's easier for me to track my projects as complete units, keep notes I can refer back to, but I also love the Techniques forum, where I get to share what I know about knitting with people who want to hear what I have to say.

In the meantime, the blog has suffered. That's about to change, because now I have a way to use my blog differently than I have in the past, but also in a way that is different from what Ravelry does for me.

I'm going to try to blog three times a week. On Mondays, I'm going to do show and tell on my projects in progress. Wednesdays are going to be Master Knitting Wednesday, at least until I finish Level II, because I'm close to the end, but I have some loose ends to finish up (and some writing), and I just want the thing done with. Early April will mark 2 years since I began, and I'd like to finish before then. On Fridays, I'm going to try video blogging, demonstrating various knitting tricks and tips. I have some ideas about how to make knitting videos different than they usually are. Hopefully, they'll be interesting and informative, too.

So here's what I'm working on at the moment:

Koolhaas Hat, in Mission Falls 1824 wool, color 029 (it's a nice raspberry red).

It's been a year or so since I've knit any 1x1 cables, and these are mostly a ktbl over a purl, so it took me a round of doing that with a cable needle to realize I would never last through the entire hat if I didn't remind myself of how to cable without a cable needle. (Hey, maybe that will be my first Friday video tip!) Next time I take a photo, it will be better. Can you see the purple Magic Loop cable in my hair, and the needles stitcking out of the back of my head?

Next up is the Garter Stitch Blanket from Elizabeth Zimmermann's The Opinionated Knitter. I started this monster at the end of December, and finished the knitting in just a couple weeks. I used two strands of Great Wool bulky from my knitting buddy, Julie, who has a sheep farm up in Sauk Centre. Her sheep are Rambouillet ("French merino"), and I have to agree they produce "great wool." The yarn has a wonderful springiness to it that makes it fun to knit.

This weekend I seamed the pieces together. I had some help

Sometimes, I had too much help.

It's hard to seam when the dog is lying on your crochet hook. At about 1/2" thick, this is one comfy spot to sleep.

Here's the whole thing seamed, but without ends woven in.

I still need to work attached i-cord around the circumference, then wash and block the thing, as it's a bit rippled. It weighs about 5 pounds at this point, so it's not a portable project.

I think I will love this blanket for its warmth and cushiness. I liked the puzzle piece aspect of this afghan, but I wasn't crazy about EZ's instructions. While I wholeheartedly endorse her efforts to teach knitters to think, she doesn't always do a good job explaining what *she* was thinking when she used a certain design element, which I think is important when the design is so unusual. I love to think for myself, and substitute design elements, but the reason for some of her design choices weren't clear to me even after I swatched alternatives, so I made some changes, and then later realized what she was thinking, and why.

The biggest problem was the matter of the selvages. EZ suggests slipping the first stitch of every row and purling the last stitch in order to give the edge a nice chain effect. This works if you slip knitwise, which is a common, but not obvious choice for selvages. Her method of seaming these edges didn't appeal to me when I tried it on a swatch, and since I've had some experience seaming garter stitch edges flat with a nice result, I decided to do that. It wasn't until later, when I realized I would be seaming cast on and bind off edges to side edges, not just edges to edges, that I realized my potential mistake. EZ's method would provide a 1:1 chain match up for seaming, whereas I had some ridged edges and some chained edges. On the other hand, I still didn't like her method of seaming, so I pushed on, deciding this was a freaking afghan for the basement, not an heirloom, so I would figure out the seaming later. I searched around Ravelry, and saw brooklyntweed/Jared Flood's method of single crocheting the seams and decided to try that. I used one strand of the bulky for the seams, and tried a few ways to seam: by incorporating both legs of both edge stitches in the seam, just one leg of each edge, and finally, one leg of a garter stitch edge with both loops of a bind off chain.

In the end, I chose to seam only one leg of any given garter stitch edge to another edge. When the other edge was a cast off chain, however, I did use both legs of the chain. If I used just one leg of the cast off chain, the other leg was obvious on the reverse side, which wasn't true of the garter stitch edge.

But wait, there's more
Before I crocheted the seams on the afghan, I decided to become better at crocheting. I tried to learn last summer, but I chose the wrong project (and wrong yarn) to start with, and gave up. This time, I worked through learning all the basic stitches: slip stitch, single crochet, half double, double, triple, and double triple. I'm using Crocheting for Dummies as my reference. I find it speaks to me in exactly the way I like, particularly as someone who is starting from absolutely no background in crochet. Every question I have is answered and explained thoroughly.

So here's my crochet project: a stash busting afghan

I'm using worsted yarn from my stash (I got some help from Nina to make sure the colors I chose worked together), and most evenings I do a row or two before bed. Since I learned to crochet, I've been studying the crocheted acrylic ripple afghan my paternal grandmother made that I've had since high school. The ripple pattern is slightly different than the one I'm using, so I had fun figuring out how she did hers. In the process, I realized Granny didn't crochet "correctly." She crocheted every row by going through the chain (just like you have to on the first row) , rather than under both loops of the chain. It's still good work, but it took me a while to figure out why my double crochet didn't look quite the same as Granny's. I kept thinking I must be doing something wrong!

There's one more project on my needles at the moment, a sock in a merino/cashmere/nylon yarn, but I seem to have misplaced it. I thought it was a nice contrast at 9 sts/in to the 2 sts/in garter stitch bohemoth. Must locate.

That's all for now. See you Wednesday for my Master Knitting update!


Nancy said...

Love your blogging plan! I, too, tend to crochet through loops rather than between because I was taught that way by my mother who learned from my paternal grandmother, who learned as a child in Sweden. U have to be careful to watch how the pattern is written as to which method to use!)

Deborah (aka Mt. Mom) said...

Sounds like a plan! Go, Rox!

Sonya said...

Great plan! I'm about to start level 2 so I'm really looking forward to Wednesdays.

Thea said...

Hi Rox - I wonder if you could answer a question about the EZ garter blanket that you made? I have made one Piece A and am partway through Piece B (up to 2nd corner) and I see that I do not have equal number of ridges on the matching edges of A and B. On the long outside edge of A, I have 45 ridges from CO edge to corner. But on B there are 48 ridges as written in pattern. Of course the two pieces do not match. Reading through ravelry, etc. I found people talking about the problem of the pieces not fitting well together before seaming, but not any reference to why this happens. So I wanted to ask you, as you appear to be a very thoughtful person, if you also only had 45 ridges on piece A instead of 48. If not I must be doing something wrong and will try to figure out what. But don't want to beat my head against the problem if it is not actually a problem. Sorry to be so long with the question already! Thanks for your time and I appreciate that explanation of the sewn bind off in your next entry. Thea