The Knitting Journeyman

Gathering Up One Thread At A Time As I Weave This Web Of Mine.....

Friday, June 25, 2010

Got My Big Girl Panties On Today

            It started with that darn Mason Dixon book.  R wanted his swifty, which I did complete—I haven’t added the buttons yet as …well…I found the buttons (after 3 days search), but have lost the desire to continue the search for needle and thread—we’ve been using it by securing it on the dust mop thing w safety pins….
            BTW—what is with all the picking up stitches in this book?  I hate to pick up stitches, as I am never sure it’s going to look good once I am done.  I knit swifty once, then figured out how to exclude the picking up of stitches for the next swifty I will make.   I am making more—we love them—and we have shaggy dogs.
            Belinda grabbed me and would not not not let go…so much so I gave up and gave in…and searched through my stash, knowing I have Rowan Kidsilk Haze in there somewhere—but finding I don’t have enough of two colors to make this shawl…I don’t have as much as I thought I did, but I did try to stash drive.   I researched substitute yarns for this piece, before buying from elann…not only did I buy enough for one Belinda shawl, I bought enough for two …. Blue and green for one, black and red for the other….
            I’ve always planned to buy something from elann…I just never had a project in mind…I love them.  They have incredible customer service.  The prices are terrific.  I adore their free patterns.  Not to mention their selection of everything, yarns, patterns, you name it.  Shipping was fantastically fast.  Happy girl here.  Very happy girl.
            Of course, there is all the blather in Mason Dixon (book 2) about Fair Isle.  I live with a bloody Scotsmen…me w the Welsh Irish blood in me veins…and after reading all about Fair Isle in this book (and wailing over the whole steeking thing)…I found myself…darn it…FASCINATED! 
            You need to knit w both hands for Fair Isle.  You need to both pick and throw to really ‘get it’. 
            I ended up borrowing The Knitting Experience Book 3 from the library…and had been adequately intrigued.  I own Sally Mehlville’s other 2 Knitting Experience books (and plan to knit R his own Einstein coat—after finishing his socks and his hats for skiing…)…after submerging myself in the Mason Dixon book…I mean, I read and re-read the thing like a novel I could not put down…I ordered the Knitting Experience Book 3 (and received an autographed copy of it no less, completely unexpected!) to help me learn colorwork of all kinds.
            Add in finding out that our local library has one Elizabeth Zimmerman dvd (the knitting workshop)…as I have it for a week…I am watching it religiously…never in my life have I honestly thought, $48 for a dvd is an awesome deal…I own all but one of her books –and that last one I ordered this morning…I watch this dvd and I want to cry.  This dvd is that good…and then some.  I am learning something every time I watch it, no matter how many times I’ve seen it already.
            It’s not helping, the Mason Dixon book, with its story about Fern and the “perils of competitive knitting”…I had already ordered the Craft Yarn Council of America’s certified knitting instructor’s program and was awaiting the arrival of my supplies (which arrived yesterday…woo hoo)…I had looked into the Master Knitter Program, prior to buying the Mason Dixon book, and had decided I would do the instructor program first…mostly to make sure that I could actually …not fail the master knitter’s programs…
            Add all these little pieces together…throw in, what, three, four weeks of moving…and although my moving is over now (except for bookcases to be gotten rid of now—to make no mention of the unpacking) …I had a near break-down the other evening, which ended in me collapsing in tears and R walking out until I could calm down…
            I had already decided that I was going to learn to knit Continental style…I knit English style already.  Strangely enough, I taught R to knit and I swear he knits in a combination style…although we’ve not broached the purl stitch yet.  I am simply not sure how he learned it, but it works for him, so I am happy.
            When we dropped the kids off this past Sunday, for some obnoxious reason I decided to grab a ball of yarn (cotton no less) and a pair of wooden needles at the store.  FYI: cotton yarn splits like mad, and it is very frustrating when you are trying to learn something new…or that’s what it did for me.  I played and played w my Continental knitting while we drove and ran errands…but it didn’t take me very long to realize…I was doing it wrong.  I was purling the wrong way.  I was scooping the yarn up—but the stitches were facing the wrong way on the next row.  So, instead of ingraining the wrong way in my head, I put it down and waited to get home…
            Then comes EZ in, on Wednesday…I grabbed a different yarn, same needles, and played her teaching us knitting and purling over and over…and then went to knittinghelp so I could see between the hands, see the needles perfectly clearly, and I watched it over and over and over…until I finally got it.  I worked stockinette stitch for a good five inches…Did I mention I felt like Super Woman because EZ taught me the long tail cast on?!?  Long has the long tail cast on evaded my mastery… I think if I had not gotten so fascinated with EZ’s long tail cast on, I might not have fought so hard to learn Continental, at least not that day.
            I wanted to be sure I could work knit stitches and purl stitches in pattern, rather than just back and forth, so I started to work 2x2 ribbing.  I can actually work the purl stitch so much easier if it is in pattern.  The whole process makes sense to me; it’s easy for me to switch the yarn from front to back.  There is not a great deal of wasted movement.  I can see where once I get better at knitting in this manner, it is really going to open up new vistas for me.
            Please note: the second yarn, Vana’s Choice, does NOT like to be frogged out.  Even if the knitting hasn’t been knitted an hour.  As soon as I frogged my piece out, the yarn got fuzzy.  I frogged it out twice more, since the fuzzing was getting in my way.  After that, I set it aside and went elsewhere as that yarn was driving me batty while I was practicing.
            Now, as if Belinda was not enough…EZ is …eating away at me.  Strangely enough, I had all my EZ books out where I could find them.  Seems I have lost one in my travels…the very first EZ book I bought…  I am waiting for my new copy to arrive as we speak.  I had the others out…so they made it to R’s house before all the other books were packed up for storage…and they were also put up and away before the floors were done (more on that later)…and I of course cannot for the life of me find them! 
            The yarn for Belinda was only the beginning…knitpicks is having a sale…on books, on yarn…and with my new knitting instructors program, there are a list of references that I was looking into procuring…I did not buy a single referenced work for the program…although I nearly bought some Fair Isle and colorwork books…which is where my weakness lies currently…
            What I ended up doing was buying Knitting Around…and yarn for a sweater for myself.  EZ’s dvd shows a sweater that the moment I saw it, I knew I wanted to make it for myself:  The Medusa Seamless Yoke Sweater.  As soon as I saw it…all I saw were octopus tentacles…and I was done…I have been so wooly excited, I pulled out my son’s Captain America sweater that has been languishing since this past February when I became unhappy over the neck opening and frogged it out (only the shoulder yoke, not the striping for the bottom)…I must finish one sweater before I begin the next…and I know my daughter wants me to make her one as well…although I am so proud of her—I sat her down last night and taught her the long tail cast on and you’d think she’s the bee’s knees now, baby.
            Now, I did not think I was going to buy wool to make a sweater—what—with my stash?  Seriously?  Buy more yarn?  No way!  And yet…once I saw the EZ book on sale, the urge to hit that $50 free shipping caught me…and I checked the stats of the seamless yoke sweater pattern to see if I could fathom how much yarn to buy…I had to have real wool, not acrylic…and I wanted to make sure I had enough of everything in order to do this…
            Math is not my strong suit.  50 grams of yarn is not quite 2 ounces.  So, thankfully google helped me locate the math input I needed—and a few minutes later, after sharpening a pencil and scribbling out a few numbers—I figured out …6 balls of yarn was NOT going to cut it.  At least not for the body of the sweater.  I bought two complementary colors to use in the colorwork/yoke.   I think I figured out 12 balls would cover the body of the sweater, so I ordered 13 balls, just in case…
            Silly me.  Ever since I got my first EZ book, I have pondered the seamless yoke sweater.  I have had ideas in my head to make one for E, another one for N.  Never got around to them.  Never took myself seriously.  Never saw the Medusa version either…not that I remember…
            When I went to pack the remaining sweaters, after having sorted through and donated so many sweaters in these past few months, I found myself tossing out everything I hadn’t worn in the past year.  I think I did end up with about seven sweaters.  I did not care what sort of material the sweater was made of…I did not care about techniques or color or anything like that.  I simply tossed the things out.  As I was tossing these last sweaters, it dawned on me that I was making room for the sweaters I was planning to make—and how I would so much prefer the ones I make myself to the store bought ones.  I am looking forward to that.

            Other knitting news:
                        Was it three weeks ago?  Yes, it would have to be.  It was the first Jazzfest of the year.  I started yet another ribby tank in Lily Chin Harlem, using two different colors.  I started it because I actually want a tank I made myself that I can wear this year…and I wanted something very simple because we were already deep into the moving process by that first concert and I was wearing thin already.  The only time I worked on that tank was at jazzfest.  We missed last week’s concert due to moving issues, so I didn’t work on it then.  Since I didn’t work on it then, I found myself working on it in the truck while we were ferrying kids from one place to another.
            The first ball of lilac went farther than I expected.  I added the blue and thought the join went well.  As I came to the end of the blue, I found a knot in the yarn, cut it out as it would not untie, and worked it the ends into the piece as usual, just like any other join.  That went well enough.  I added the lilac for the next color block…and I did not like the join at all.  I do not know what I did differently that time, but it didn’t pull together as nicely.  I figured it wasn’t all that bad…and then round us back to the Mason Dixon book and the story about the creation of Fern…and that imperfection, small as it was, kept eating at me, nibbling at my edges, until I sat here in front of EZ, when I needed a break in between my Continental knitting and purling, and frogged the entire piece out to the very beginning.  I put that bag away, project in balls, waiting.  That is when I grabbed N’s unfinished Captain America sweater and started to work on it. 
            Working it this time went far faster and much better than before.  Since my Continental work is still somewhat uneven and much looser than my English knitting, I decided to finish his sweater using the English style…especially since I am currently working the piece closest to his face. 
            Once I get off this computer, I will be able to finish off the last few inches of stockinette stitch for the shoulder yoke and will immediately cast on both sleeves, so I can be sure they are even, and get to work.  After that comes the seaming and the weaving in of ends and all will be fantastic…I will have to find a star pattern and whip that up…the worst part is hiding the sweater so N doesn’t see it and want to wear it in this 90 degree weather!

            Add in to all of this today that I was finally calm enough to paint my toe nails…and I am a very happy woman today.  Indeed!