Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Selfless Knitter 6.0 (batteries not included)

My FOs are few, but I can safely say that I enjoy knitting for others more than for myself. (My current WIP is a necessary exception). Coupled with my love of pleasing people is my reluctance to disappoint them: in essense, to say 'no' when they suggest that I knit them something.
Now, don't get me wrong, getting requests is flattering and frankly, sometimes I suggest it myself. But I get to thinking sometimes...could that be what knitting is all about? I'm by no means a knitting history buff, but I do know that from the very beginning, knitting was a practice that benefited many people other than the knitter. Whether it was a necessary craft (socks, sweaters, etc.) or simply entertainment (lace, etc.), the knitted items always seemed to benefit somebody else. But does that meant that knitters are selfless folk working tirelessly for the good of others? I'm not so sure. The act of knitting something is, by itself, highly rewarding, pleasing, and challenging. Watching somebody accept your finished item and knowing how much good they'll get out of it is, as they say, the icing on the cake. Besides, there are only so many things you can knit for yourself. Would you ever be able to use them all? Not to mention that after weeks of working on an item (if not longer), I'm pretty eager to send it on its merry way.
So perhaps there's more to knitting than yarn and needles, cardigans and baby socks. Maybe knitting has hidden intrinsic value that only really makes sense to a knitter.

So what has my knitter's nature wrought upon me? Why, more future projects, of course! There are many thigns I want to knit for myself, but the majority of future projects are for other people:

M-the-younger: He's my co-worker and we're only a few months apart in age. He was the first to (jokingly) ask for something after seeing me knitting the now finished faux-lace scarf at my desk. He requested a tie (really) and since then I've found a few good pattern that will work.

M-the-elder: Another co-worker. This one wants a vest, with cables and all. Well, if he wants it done before the year is over, he'll have to settle for something simpler.

G: My little cousin. She requested a rainbow-colored scarf and matching hat. I'm planning to have them ready for her by this fall.

N: A former lady co-worker who may have asked for a scarf at some point. I'm thinking something lacy.

M&C: The original muses :) These two can pull off things like shrugs and capelets. I'd love to make things like that but I know that I'd never wear them; just a matter of taste. Having friends to gift things like this to allows me to make things that I wouldn't necessarily use myself. And of course, it's fun figuring out what they'll like.

The rest of my list includes projects for people that didn't ask for them. A huge benefit of making things for others is the opportunity to learn new skills and practice learned ones--both parties benefit!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Moving right along...

I've made a lot of progress on the pullover--it's almost time to shape the armholes, neck, and shoulders!

Aerial view: the sides roll horribly, so they were pinned out for the photo session. Look--shaping!

A close-up of the ridge pattern.

Another view of the ridge pattern.

I wasn't kidding when I said it curled! Half of the time, it doesn't even look like the front or back of anything.

And the WS of the piece. Lots and lots of garter stitch.

Currently, the piece measures 36.5 cm; it needs to be 37.5cm before I can start shaping the armholes. I started a second hank last weekend! This time around, winding it into a ball by hand turned disastrous towards the end--a scary, tangled mass that took me about a half hour to fix. Maybe it was a combination of the late hour and listening to a radio show. Perhaps there is something to having a partner help you wind...
The photos were taken with different types of flash, which is why they all look different. Still not sure which is best for 2am photo sessions with the floor lamp on...
It's been very smooth sailing so far and I'm a bit nervous about starting on armholes, shoulders, etc. Something about "working both sides at once" scares me. That and the AT THE SAME TIME directions--not only must you continue the ridge pattern, but you should also decrease/increase every x number of rows. The first two repeats of the ridge pattern called for this and it wasn't so much difficult as it was about planning ahead and knowing after which row to increase. My other concern is the length. The ridge pattern on the sweater the model in the mag is wearing doesn't start at the same place it starts on me. Granted, we're not the same person but the size of the sweater is the same! I'm afraid that it'll turn out ot be a little long for me. In that case, I'll probably frog from the bottom and re-do the ribbing so that it fits better.
Not only have I been able to knit at work, but during the week as well! A row here, two more there--that adds up to a lot, considering that it takes me about 10-12 minutes to knit a single row. There are currently 134 stitches on the needle, although it doesn't look like it! (No, I didn't count them! 'Just glanced at the pattern!) Initially, I thought that bringing my knitting to school would just distract me, but I've actually found that knitting a bit before hitting the books is relaxing. Plus, I'll never be bored during a dull lecture hour!
I should be done with this side by the end of this month, finals and all being taken into consideration. Maybe I should do a sleeve next instead of the other side, to keep things interesting.
I'm considering starting a second, smaller project in addition to this WIP. There are a lot of things I'd been planning to knit--mostly things people have requested. But that's another can of worms meant for another post...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Stash: Not just for yarn anymore

I've made a lot of progress on my pullover over the past week--in reference to the pattern photo in the last post, I've just begun the ridge pattern.
So far, I've been surprised at how some of the direction details I'd previously thought of as challenging were a breeze when it came to actually following them. For example, I was worried about how I could keep track of the number of rows I'd done (and in what stitch) and, at the same time, make the right number of increases. The problem was easily solved with a piece of paper to tally up the number of increases and write down either 'k' or 'p' for the row I was currently on. The upcoming directions will probably challenge me a lot more than this, since they involve shaping for the sleeves and picking up stitches to form a neckline. I'm hoping that it'll fall into place when the times comes to knit them, just like everything else!

Progress photos in the next post.

On stashes. Since I've only recently started to get serious about knitting, my yarn stash is pretty nominal. And actually, I'd like to keep it that way! I like impulse buys as much as the next knitter, but the longer that yarn sits unused, the more guilty/frustrated one feels. My plan is to buy yarn as I need it, whether it be for a current project or for a future one (yarn specs. would be known). It's pragmatic and ambitious. Let's see if I can stick to it!
My weakness, however, is books. And magazines. And anything craft-related. So, for your viewing pleasure as well as my future nostalgia, my book-stash!

Clockwise from top: 3 books on sewing, 1 small book with Chinese patterns (knitting inspiration!), my current collection of past VK issues (80s-early 90s), a Vogue Knitting reference book (very handy; it's got articles from past issues, stitch patterns, techniques, etc.), a few books on marcame. This section of my book-stash is dubbed 'the old stuff' because, well, it's all second hand! And yay for that!

Dubbed 'the new stuff', this is my collection of current knitting magazines and books. Only the Vogue Stitchionary (vol. 2: cables) is second hand (I'm not ashamed to admit that as a relative cheap-skate, I try to buy as many things used as possible).

And now the yarn stash, plus where I keep my notions and all that jazz...

It all fits inside a medium-sized box: needles, yarn, ruler, faux stitch holders (made out of paper clips).

Not pictured are my pattern binder (downloaded patterns from online) and an inspiration folder (holds clippings, pictures, etc. that are somehow inspirational).

Saturday, May 05, 2007

New Horizons: 1st sweater progress!

Ever since I learned how to knit in the fourth grade, I'd never gone beyond making rectangles (ie. scarves). I've only recently become interested--no, fascinated--with the world of knitting.

Having the desire to develop my skills was one thing, but getting there was going to take an initial push! So I hopped on the bus and rode downtown to buy a Dummies book on knitting. I knew the basics (knit, purl)...or so I thought. Somehow, the easy to follow instructions confused me; my knit stitches looked the same as the purls. Frustrated, I began making another long rectangle. A few months later, the curiosity returned with a vengeance, so I began searching for different instructions. Ironically, while considering which book to buy, I realized that Lionbrand and Knitpicks had instructions that I actually understood (and they were free!). So I obviously never did end up buying another book.

As I studied the aforementioned instructions, I had one of thone AHA! moments: I realized that I'd been knitting wrong for years. My purl stitch was actually my knit stitch, and vice versa. Re-learning them was pretty helpful, to say the least. I've currently learned the proper way to do simple decreases/increases.

Well, enough on that! My current WIP:

A "close-fitting crewneck pullover with set-in sleeves". This pattern is from a Spring/Summer 1989 edition of Vogue Magazine.

Progress after 2 weeks:

A close up:

And for the curious ones, the magazine cover!

A better look at the decreases (I'm finished with these as of now; if you look at the pattern photo, I'm right where the model's waist is)

The yarn is Knit Picks Gloss in Woodland Sage (70% Merino Wool, 30% silk). This yarn smells absolutely heavenly and feels almost as good. The best I can describe it is as a high-end department store smell. Clean, yet perfumey. I ordered 7 hanks, and at $3.99 each, my first big project isn't going to make me poor(er). The sweater is knit mostly on size 3 needles (I don't blame you from shuddering in horror), which gets a lot more comfortable after a little while. The ribbing was knit on size 2's.

The yarn, alongside a member of my tiny stash (everything else are half-used skeins of Red Heart Acrylic that I'm not too keen on using anymore):

I've got a long, long way to go until I finish, given that I'm knitting with tiny needles and have to study for finals (and fend off the urge to 'just forget about it all' and hole up somewhere to knit).

I got a lot done last Sunday at work--as a receptionist, there's not much else for me to do on a slow day. A few customers saw me knitting at my desk and stopped by to chat! All said things along the lines of compliments and interests, and one elderly lady asked if she could just watch me for a while. These types of results of knitting in public are my favorite; what I don't like is when people treat me as an anomaly (which I may be, to them) and make a big fuss...and ask if I'm knitting them a pair of socks. Somehow, the response of "Hey buddy, you need more than two needles to knit a sock!" doesn't have any effect.