Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Yesterday I spent a good part of my day playing with Inkscape an open source vector rendering software.  Well what the heck does this have to do with knitting?  Well, when I gift I want to have a gift tag with care instructions.  A few months ago I was researching on how to make my own but there is not a lot of info.  There are some great gift/care tags sold here, and here.  I think they are very nice and cool, but I wanted something that was me, so I set out to create my own.

I started by looking for templates.  I found that there were a lot of tutorials on how to use business card templates to do it.  Again, didn't suit me.  Then I found laylock, where there were some downloads of gift tags that I could print at home.  Getting closer to what I wanted but I wanted the design to be unique to me.  So I downloaded the gift tags PDF, opened it in photoshop, erases the design on the front added, some text on the garment care side, printed them off on cardstock, glued and cut.  Now I have a bunch of blank gift tags.  These were just practice.

That's where inkscape comes in.  I'm learning to use the software so that I can create my own designs.  It's a huge learning curve so it may take a while until I feel that I am good enough.    

Monday, July 19, 2010

To The Bandwagon!

On the side bar there is a short description of what I am currently working on with basic information and updates.  But I get bored with some projects and they go on hold for a while, in favor of another project.  The socks that are up there now (the project may be different depending on when you read this entry) are on hold and I'm knitting 2 other projects.  One of the projects is one that everyone and their sister has knitted.  I was never truly interested in this pattern and thought that I would never knit it.  It wouldn't happen to me.  I fell in love with a yarn at the store.  We took it slow at first.  I introduced myself, picked it up, shook hands, though about bringing it home, but I'm not that kind of girl. I didn't know if I was ready for a relationship.  But I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I didn't know what I would make with it.  Then I though of a project for it, and I went back and bought 3 skeins.  I caught the Clap(otis) from this yarn.

I cast on Saturday and found out that this pattern is deceptively simple.  When I looked at it in pictures I though it was just  yarnovers, and dropped stitches.  This pattern has been infuriatingly frustrating.  The first day I only got to the first 12 rows, after I ripped out several times because I just kept getting lost.  The only way to keep me on track is to take detailed notes for every row keeping track of the number of stitches.   I've got the hang of it now and am making good progress.

I'm actually doing a mini-clapotis since I didn't want to buy so much yarn and am hoping to use up only 2 skeins.  The yarn that turned me to this pattern is Noro Kureyon in color way 267.  I would never have bought this yarn, but I just love the colors (black, yellow, pink and lilac).  I'm not liking the yarn itself.  Usually the colors are too much for me and the texture is nothing I would ever want.  I suppose it's good for felting, but I am very anti-felting.  So I actually fell in love with the color, not the yarn.  If there was another yarn in the same colors, I definitely would not have chosen Noro.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Scarves are a beginner's best friend

Since I am still in my first year of knitting, there is still so much to learn.  I still haven't knitted my first sweater, and I still don't have plans to.  You could call me an accessory knitter because that is all I have knitted.  My first real project that I completed after doing all of my n00b practice swatches was a scarf I made for my boyfriend Matt as a Christmas gift.  I took up knitting originally because I wanted gloves, but they were still too advanced for me and I wanted to make something.  I looked around the internet to get an idea about what kind of scarf to make and what color and design I should use.  I didn't know how to knit on the round yet but I wanted something like a rugby scarf. I decided to go ahead and just knit it flat in stockinette ( the curling!) but use the same design seen in a lot of rugby scarves.  Matt is a neutral color kind of guy.  He likes dark colors but I wanted to use colors other than black, or navy blue, etc.   Matt's not a rugby fan, but he is a Manchester United fan. So I decided to use the teams colors; black, white and red.  Around this time I discovered the wonderful yarn shop in the area and stopped by to see what yarns inspired me.  I wanted something soft, warm and special for him so I decided on baby alpaca chunky/bulky.  The red and white were from Cascade Yarns, and the Black was Plymouth.  After I purchased and wound the ball in the store I sat down in the knitting are and cast on for, I think, 56 stitches in black.  I knit 10 or 15 rows ( I can't remember exactly how it went, because I didn't keep a notebook) switched to another color, either red or white depending in what repeat I was on, for 2 rows, switched back to black, for a few more rows, then switched to the same contrasting color I used before and knitted that for 10 or 15.  So I just kept knitting until I was satisfied with the length and stopped at a black.  I gave it to him on Christmas and he loved it.  There are a lot of beginner mistakes , but it was my first knitted gift that I spent the time to design and make for someone I love. I have learned a lot since then and have picked up more skills and can fix most of my mistakes.  Some of the mistakes I make now are the same mistakes I made on that scarf.  But knitting is a lifelong learning experience.        

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So you want to knit?

Are you sure? Do you even know what you're getting yourself into?  Perhaps you have always been curious about knitting but never tried it.  Maybe some of your friends do it.  Perhaps you have seen a knitted garment and though "I would love to make something like that."  The reasons to start knitting are just as varied as the people who do it so the reason why to start is not that important.  What's important is that once you make up your mind up to start you need to know how.  If you're lucky enough to have a friend or family member who knits, go learn from them.  Having an experienced knitter who can teach you hands on is perhaps the best method.  But if you're like me and don't know anybody, then the internet is your best friend.  I am entirely self taught.  Everything I learned about knitting I learned off of the internet, experimentation, and patience. Lots and lots and lots of patience.  

My first advice is to watch some videos on how to do the two types of stitches. The knit stitch, and the purl stitch. When you begin to read patterns you will see these two terms used.  When I first got started I got confused.  "Aren't the stitches all knit.  I mean it's called knitting.  Why call a knit something else." I know, I was new, give me a break.  is a great web site with videos and verbal instruction on techniques.  I should also mention the different styles of holding the yarn.  The only real difference is which hand you hold the working yarn in (more on that in another post).  Holding it with your right is English and holding it in your left is Continental.  The correct method is whatever you feel most comfortable with.  Continental is the preferred for speed but it takes quite a bit of finger dexterity to get down.  English is slower (when you get good at it you can go faster) but maybe easier for people with less finger control.  I started out English and have picked up Continental in the last month or so. I switch between the two for different purposes.

The knit and purl stitches are be foundation of knitting.  All the different affects that you see in knitted garments are a variation in how they are manipulated.  Once you get these down, you're pretty much set.  Sure they get a little more complicated but we will get to that later.  

So now you have an idea of how it's done.  What do you buy to get started?  No need to get fancy needles or yarn.  Just head to your local craft store and buy some.  If you want specific advice get a set of 14" US 8 single point strait needles and a ball of wool yarn, like Patons brand. These needles are a good all around size and perfect for practice swatches and scarves. As you progress you will notice that you will need different needles (as in size and types) for different projects, but again more on that later.  If you're concerned about budget aluminum needles are cheaper, but they are slick and for a new knitter it could be frustrating to keep the yarn on.  Bamboo needles keep the yarn on better.  Don't worry about all of the other fancy stuff you see on the self.  All of that can come later.  You should just start simple.

Now you should learn how to cast on using the long tail method, which is the go to cast on for most projects, and go to town.  Do as many rows of knit stitches until you feel comfortable and have it down.  Then switch to purl. This is where the real fun comes in. Just knit.  If you make mistakes it's okay.  Switch between knit and purl in the same row. Alternate rows between the two.  Just experiment with your yarn and stitches. You may notice that the fabric looks different depending on how you arrange your stitches.  If there is ever a point that you come to where you are frustrated, just put the work down, walk away and come back to it later.  I was messing up like mad when I first started, got frustrated, and couldn't understand what was going on in the videos.  But if I quit for just a while (usually a day) and came back I started knitting like I have been doing it for years.  So perhaps it would work for you.        

So the take home message is this, experiment, don't be afraid to make mistakes, be patient, practice, and have fun with your knitting.  This is just the beginning.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Well this is my first endeavor into a knitting blog.  To be honest I don't have much of a plan for this blog.  I don't know what will go into it or what it will be.  I have a general idea but you know how things don't usually go to plan.  I will just start posting whatever comes to mind and see where it takes me.  I will probably post some tips that really helped me out as a beginning knitter, and just my experience in general.  I hope that you enjoy yourself reading about my misadventures.