Monday, May 29, 2006

Felted Handbag

My first attempt at a knitted-felted object is complete. I knit a bag, with no pattern, on size 15 needles (the largest I had in my circular Denise kit) out of black, white and blue Lana Wool found at Ace Hardware (the white was previously used for the baby kimono...Remember when I thought I was going to run out of wool?)
I knit a stockinette square of 30 stitches and 30 rows, picked up stitches circularly, and knit stripes until I figured I was done, cast off every other 30 stitches (for the edge) and reduced the remaining 2 sets of 30 stitches until I made a strap. Finished the strap when I ran out of the black wool.
Felting: Did a hand-felt in hot and cold water, then put through the dryer. It shrunk, but not by much. The knit stitches were still discernible, the bag still stretched when something weighty was placed in it. So yesterday I threw it in a hot/cold wash with my towels and tee-shirts, then in the dryer. It felted fabulously!
Makes me want to move onto felted slippers, felted fedora hats...

Mostly this was an experiment:
-I wanted to have more than one project on the needles. Of course, now that this is done felting, I am back to just the "Buck the Curse" socks. Must cast-on something else now... Of course, I am thinking about a zipper in the bag, so technically it is still an UFO?
-I wanted to try the technique of knitting a square and then turning the corner into knitting in the round, a technique we had discussed at our 2nd Waimea knitting meeting.
-I wanted to deliberately cause felt by abusing the wool. I am wearing 2 pair of socks with accidental felted parts now, and I wanted to use this technique for good!
-I wanted some easy stockinette in leftover wool without a pattern as some easy, stress-free knitting. Seemed I raced through that and need another...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ripping Out

Sock rip back #1: Put heel on. Sock fit me perfectly. Socks are not for me, but for SO with significantly larger foot. Ripped back to add on length.
Sock rip back #2: Realized that I had done gusset increases all wrong: Had increased at the end of each metal circular, making 4 stitches per round instead of 2. Like a toe increase instead of an instep increase. Ripped back to instep and did it right.
Sock rip back #3: Apparently I am consistent, no matter what needle material I use. Ripped back other sock down to instep as well.

I turned the heel on the first sock, and cornered SO to make him try it on. It is too big now. By like, a half inch. I don't really want to rip back again for a half inch. I keep thinking that it is wool, and maybe I can shrink it a little...But the label says "superwash". Maybe I can block it a little? But I don't want to make him do that every time he does his laundry. I am the one with the wool habit, and therefore I must face the laundry consequences of that, but he should just be able to wash n dry n go this gift. Maybe they will be okay...

Am I worrying too much over the first knitted object I create for the object of my affection? Is the "Curse" self-fulfilling?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Something New

The photo shows two new projects which represent new experiences for me in the following ways:
1) TWO projects on the needles at once! This attempt is to avoid that bereft feeling of loss I experience when finished with one project and yet to begin anew. Hopefully another project will overlap and bridge the gap, and I could continue this pattern indefinitely. I have even made a swatch for project#3, and have purchased and planned projects #4 and #5. I have always been a project monogamist, but must concede that perhaps this is not the wisest method for my emotional health.
2) Note one sock being knit on two circular needles, while one sock is knit on my usual bamboo double points. I figured that I couldn't jump into the circular vs. double-point debate without a bit of research. So far I don't think circulars are too much faster: It cuts out one bamboo needle change, but it takes me a little longer to slide and change over on the circulars anyway, so that speed difference is perhaps made up.
3) While we are in the midst of the above debate, note also evidence being gathered for the metal vs. wood needle debate. As seen below, most of my double points are bamboo, and all of my mothers needles are metal, so I have much opportunity to gather evidence for this debate. (Perhaps unseen in the photo are the plastic Denise circulars being used on the not-yet-felted striped Merino bag. But I already concede that plastic is not as sensually pleasurable as the other materials. But I love the flexibility of my Denise kit.)
4) Neither of these projects have a pattern. The bag I am just knitting out of curiosity, having never (intentionally) felted a knitted project before. I don't know how big to make it, I don't know how big to do a handle or a strap, and I don't much care. The socks are my second attempt at Toe-Up socks (see Mom Socks below) and I am using the notes from that project.
5) Knitting for my Boyfriend, hoping to avoid the "Curse" of knitting for the BF. He does want them, he has seen them, approved the colors, and had his toes fitted several times now. It isn't a huge sweater involving months of labor. He has also said that he would love to wear something I made and spent so much time on. So all bodes well, so far.

We shall see what comes of this very scientific series of new experiments!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cutest Pattern Ever!

Finished the baby kimono from the Mason Dixon Knitting book. See knitalong here. Made this out of Bernat Lana Merino, and sewed the ribbons on today. This will go off to my College roommate who is expecting any day now. What a cute pattern!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I Don't Have a Problem...

I can quit whenever I want! You have the problem! Seriously! I don't have a problem!
Well, it could be worse...
Really. My stash is really small. And the yarn store is over 75 minutes away. I have only been there once! (She had to turn the lights on in the back corner for me, so I could see all the neglected natural fibers.) I usually blow wads of cash at yarn stores while I am visiting the Mainland... but that isn't often...or sending my credit card to the Websters in Oregon and waiting for the mailman.
It really could be worse...
But today, I wondered:
1) I waited until after the closing date on my credit card to complete my Websters order. This way it won't show on my credit card statement until late June.
2) I deposited my US Tax return. It amounts to about 10% of my Websters bill.
3) In my first act of hiding the evidence, I just completed tidying up (hiding) the strewn balls of yarn from all over my floor before my BF comes over later.
4) Even though the Websters order is (presumably. Should I worry?) winging its way to me right now, I had to stop off at Ace Hardware on the way home for a little Merino to tide me over.
But it could be worse:
You know that baby Kimono? The one I am knitting out of 217 yards when the pattern calls for 244 yards? I have been worrying, measuring, weighing, asking advice, ripping out the swatch... last night I asked Jan her advice, thinking that, since it is white, maybe I could use another dye lot. Her reply? "Oh, No! White is the worst! I have had soooo many problems matching dye lots in white!" I had decided that I would stop at the Hardware store an look for the same dye lot, or find a new dye lot, then Kool-Aid dye the finished sweater. I imagined myself obsessive, caffeine-addled, crazy, sitting in the aisle at Ace, digging through the wool bin in a furious chase... and I admitted maybe I do have a problem.
But it could be worse:
My Ace Hardware, while close to my house, has a limited selection. Specifically, a wall of acrylic Red Heart yarn, a wall of eyelash yarn, and loads of fishing supply. The "bin" of wool at the hardware store is actually one milk crate. It held four skeins of the white. They were all the same dye lot as the yarn I bought a year ago. My only conclusion? I am the only person in my whole town who buys wool.
Not only do I have a problem, but I am all alone with my addiction.
But it could be worse...

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Obvious Answer.

Felt bereft and panicked after completion of last sock. Was completely obsessed with next project, and rushed through all other weekend activities in order to finally score some free time to cast-on. In the meantime, made a swatch, read knitting books, bought yarn online, checked out other knitting Blogs...
Finally, Sunday afternoon was able to cast-on the cute baby kimono from new Mason-Dixon Knitting book. While experiencing pattern questions, checked out their Blog, and then promptly joined the Knit-Along.
The discomfort of having nothing on the needles lasted less than 24 hours, yet it filled every minute of those hours. The obvious answer is this:
Have more than one project going at a time, dummy!
I feel it is in my nature to work on only one thing at a time, and fear that too many UFOs would make me not accomplish any of them. But maybe I need to start a sock, and have it lying around for just such Methodone-Moments. Something to carry me over in the hours while the completed project is blocking and the new project is still in hanks.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Finished Mamluke Socks

Finished the second Mamluke sock today. I love them. They are blocking right now, and it is pouring down rain here, so I suspect it will be awhile before I can wear them.
Some things I learned on this project:
No matter how good my idea to "fix" the pattern, don't just fix the second sock. Now I have an unmatching pair, and am considering ripping out the foot of sock #1.

Knitting in public is fun. Especially when the sock is complex, and people ask all kinds of questions about it.

My fair-isle tension is uneven: Sock #1 is much tighter than sock#2. Relax!

I swear less when knitting the name of God.

And something else I will remember about this pattern. I happened to do alot of knitting on these socks in Doctor's offices. We all know that knitting is calming and meditative, but the meaning of these socks made each stitch like a prayer. I think it will indeed feel different to wear these socks.
For the Fair-Isle knitters out there: This second photo is of the inside.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Around the Corner

Last night we worked on changing from flat knitting to round knitting. We didn't plan it, but luck would have it that J was starting a toe-up sock using my basic pattern (Mom Socks, Below:) and was moving from several rows on straight needles to knitting around the toe. S was doing the same thing but on a larger scale: After knitting a small rectangle, picked up the edges and began knitting a purse in the round.
At one single moment in both processes, the mind suceeds in swinging around the corner from flat back and forth to three-dimensional roundness. In this moment of shift, all things are possible. After stuggling with the concept and the details, suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, we get it: We see it. One wonders what other dimensional breakthroughs lurk just out of reach. I think this is the magic of knitting: that we can sculpt our projects, shape them through each stich, each cell, into a complex and curvy piece.
If we were interested in only flat pieces, we would take up sewing.


Wendi sent me this photo of something that she has that I don't! I have stash issues: I would love to be one of those knitters that owned an impressive, memorable, luxurious stash of yarn. A stash hidden in too many places. A stash that I would have to make excuses for. I would love the luxury of feeling the texture of a new yarn, and before I could stop myself, handing over a credit card.
But no. Besides the wall of acrylic at Ace Hardware (ick. Don't wanna touch it! Don't wanna!) there is a yarn store about 75 minutes away from me (mostly has eyelash yarn for leis, but she has a little corner of wool.) All other yarn must be bought at wild sprees while on the mainland, or with the assistance of emailed photos. Yes, I get yarn porn through the email.