I've decided that instead of having a selfish goal like last year (10 shawls in 2010), I will make it a goal to knit for loved ones this year. I don't regret or feel ashamed about having a selfish goal last year - it was just something I needed to do. But this year, I'm ready to put the focus back on others. That's not to say I won't be knitting for myself, I will, but I will be shifting the balance. My side goal is that if I'm working on something for myself, I must be working on something for someone else as well.
Starting with my family (and that may be as far as I get this year), I want to make one item for each person. Here's what I've done already:
a vest for Clint and I am working on a second
a headband / warmer for Kelly
I'm working on socks for my dad
a toy for Cash (that is almost done)
I'm still trying to decide what to make for my brothers. If the current vest I am working on goes well, there is a strong possibility that I will make those for the bros. I can just picture the next winter holiday - with all the boys wearing their vests. But then I would need to make one for my dad and Rodney as well...decisions, decisions.
I am also feeling a Finley project coming on - maybe a short sleeve sweater, so she can wear it now but then also into the winter with a shirt underneath.
Before I settled on the knitting generously goal, I thought maybe I would try to go a whole year without purchasing any new yarn. It started kind of by accident when I didn't buy any new yarn in January (except some for a potential project for someone else, so it doesn't count) and then I made it most of February before I splurged (big time) at The Tinsmith's Wife in Comfort. So I think the idea of the yarn diet is not sustainable (according to Tom, it wasn't a diet, it was yarn bulemia), but I am better off limiting my yarn purchases and trying to use up stash first if I can.
I just completed my first official yarn crawl! Nine yarn stores in two days! I am overwhelmed to say the least! Along with the gifts skeins we received at each location, I purchased more on my own. I tried to resist, but I couldn't. But as one very wise knitter said after she transferred more money to her account, yarn is our jewelry.
I don't even know where to begin about what a wonderful experience the yarn crawl was - I can't wait to do it again next year! Stacy and I had fun on the bus and made new knitting friends. I saw and purchased spectacular yarn. We appreciated small towns and dreamed about moving to one.
At one store I was introduced to an old craft: rug hooking. Stacy and I were both intrigued as the women of Stonehill Spinning in Fredricksburg demonstrated the art on a piece in progress. Rug hooking involves pulling strips of wool up through linen or burlap in small looped increments to create beautiful rugs. It looks to me what would be the predecessor to latch hooking. Stacy bought some tools; I think I will wait and see if I can find a reasonably priced starter kit. I was telling Clint and my dad about it and my dad said that his mother used to do rug hooking in the 60s and 70s! She even had her own fabric cutter which cuts five or six strips at once. So fiber arts are truly in my blood!
I can't imagine how long it's going to take me to photograph and catalog all of my yarn spoils, but I'm looking forward to the task!
All this time, I thought I knew how to pick up stitches. I mean, I've been picking them up, but unsuccessfully. I knew all along that something didn't look right, but I continued on with my absurd picking up technique anyway. I would look at knitting books and stare at the instructions for picking up stitches and think, that's what I'm doing - why do my projects look so...bad? On a whim, I watched a video on YouTube and finally learned the error of my ways!
All this time, I have been picking up a stitch with my left needle and then knitting it with my right. The result was this twisted-looking line of stitches that pulled very far away from the edge they had been picked up from. What I didn't understand until now is that your left needle is not involved at all in the process: it's just the right needle, the stitch and the working yarn!
The funniest thing is that all this time, I thought I was right! This makes me want to go back and reknit things so that I can pick up the stitches correctly. Well, not really. But from here on out, I will.
I'm working on the body of the top-down raglan. I really love the Spud & Chloe yarn; I'm glad I gave it a second chance. The more I think about it, the more I realize the sock yarn I am alluding to is really not responsible for my dislike. I'm pretty sure the culprit was the size 1 needles I was insisting on using even though it felt terrible. Note to self: frog the socks that have sat untouched for who knows how long and use it, but not on size 1's! When I started the body, I thought I was a 0 ease kind of gal, but as I'm trying it on every couple of inches I am realizing that I am indeed a negative ease gal. How much negative ease? That is yet to be determined. I guess I will just have to make another sweater to find out! For now I am accepting this sweater for what it is and enjoying the learning process : )
I am trucking along on my top-down raglan and loving it. I finished my first skein and it's time to start a new one. I decided that instead of joining my yarn in one of the two ways I have made up, that maybe it's about time that I learn the proper way. So I searched YouTube for a knitting tutorial and found one. What I learned was beyond simple and I actually already knew it, I just wasn't applying what I knew at the right time. The secret to joining the yarn is to do so at the beginning of the row (or round in this case), then you just weave in the ends when you're done! Duh! Why did this take me so long to figure out?
My other epiphany came when I magically realized how to do a yarn over at the beginning of a row: you wrap the yarn before the first stitch! Duh! I have actually avoided patterns and stitches because I didn't understand how to do this!
For me, having six knitting projects at once is pretty normal. So it's no surprise then, that I felt the need to cast on for the top-down raglan knit-along that Susan B. Anderson is sponsoring here. I am so excited to be working on this sweater; it's the first cold weather item of the season. I picked a beautiful burnt orange for the fall (and for UT) and just knitting it makes fall seem a little closer, despite the fact that my car thermometer said 107 when I got in after lunch.
I love knit-alongs because they make an otherwise daunting knitting project feel doable. The parts are doled out weekly and I feel like a kid in school again! I looked at the blog yesterday because I was so excited and Susan had already posted the first steps - yea! I finished my whole assignment last night and I can't wait for the next part!
In other knitting news, I saw Barbara W. up at school today. She is a retired teacher and was up at school visiting all of us. She is very special to me because she taught me how to read a pattern and make booties. Once I learned that, my knitting life really took off. And when I say "took off", that's an understatement. Learning how to read a pattern was life-changing for me. I didn't even know I wanted to learn, so I'm glad Barbara took a chance on such an ambivalent person! Anyway, we're going to try to arrange a regular knitting night which is great because Stacy and I had already been talking about this AND Stacy was in Barbara's class in middle school! I can't wait to tell her (Stacy).