January 2008

I am feeling so clever right now. First, I have turned the heel of my first sock and picked up the stitches in the gusset. That is the part that most intimidated me. I had read the directions at least a hundred times. I just didn’t get how it would work. I even looked at a tutorial with pictures numerous times. I just didn’t get it. However, when I got to each part with sock in hand, I figured it out. It even looks right, IMO. How cool is that?! It is like magic. It looks like a sock! I am just so impressed with myself! I can tell how people become addicted! I am quickly headed in that direction.

Want to know how I can tell? I have been obsessing about needing a sock bag. I finally settled on this one. I also have been only interested in sock yarn online. I have neglected all other projects in favor of the sock! I am just loving how clever the little thing is!

There are two small mistakes (not big enough for me to rip back). First, there is a row right in the middle of the heel flap where the slip stitches don’t quite line up. Not worth tinking as LB will never really notice. I also did decreases on each row (not every other row). It still looks fine. It also appears to fit fine, so no going back. I will just need to make that same “mistake” on the second sock.

Poor LB doesn’t really understand where the second sock is. He keeps saying, “Can I wear the other one?” I have explained that the other sock hasn’t even been started. He always, “Ok, can I wear it now?”

I am also feeling clever because I figured out a way to keep my needles together and to keep them from poking my bag or losing stitches off the end. It is just two end caps for the Closet Maid shelving stuff and some beading cord. It works really well, doesn’t add any bulk to the bag, and cost about $2 to make (the $2 was enough to actually make about 12 sets, but I have only made one since I only have one set of dpns…something I expect will change rapidly).

Yesterday was a big day of firsts! I knitted my first swatch. As all the knitters gasp, let me just say that I have never knit anything that needed a specific gauge. I have only ever knit dishcloths, toys, and baby blankets. I have swatched before with crochet, but have found that my tension in crochet is in no way consistent. They are useless to me (as you can tell from the bear post earlier this month). I swore I wouldn’t do them again, but I found that my knitting tension is now pretty consistent. I also had no idea what my gauge would be like with the really tiny sock yarn and really tiny dpns (turns out it is 9 stitches/inch…slightly stretched). So….another big “fear” bites the dust.

The funny thing about swatching this time was that I felt guilty the whole time about “wasting” the yarn. I fully intended to bind off, break off the yarn, and photograph it. When I finished the swatch, I couldn’t bring myself to break it off. I did do a bind off, but I left it attached. I just couldn’t cut it. I love the yarn. It is so beautiful. I just couldn’t bear the thought of it in a swatch. So, I measured. Measured again. Measured slightly stretched. Then, I pulled it out and wound it back into the ball. I did it on my lunch hour, so no picture of my first swatch.
My other big first…I cast on my first sock. This is my first time using dpns, so I used Silver’s Sock Class photos as a guide. I also used a video from Knitting Help on knitting in the round. I found it a bit fiddly for the first row, so I just knit that row. After that, I got the hang of it and started ribbing. It is going well. It is a lot less hard than I imagined! I am feeling like a real Knitter (with the capital K)! My confession is that I really like the dpns, the yarn, and how tiny they are. I am also totally amazed that it is coming out sock like!

Lorna’s Laces Sock Yarn Argyle
Originally uploaded by Knitting Gnome

When I first arrived on Ravelry, I read a lot about “Fearless Knitting in 2008”. The first few times I saw it mentioned, I thought “how silly…who is afraid of knitting?” As I thought of it, I realized that it wasn’t being afraid of knitting…it was being afraid of certain aspects of knitting. I, myself, have a fear of anything that I see as “new” or “complicated”. I have been terrified of trying anything that wasn’t strictly knit or purl. Since Ravelry, I have decided to conquer those fears.

My first big fear was anything with a slip stitch. I have been knitting the January is for Karen scarf even though the pattern looked “hard”. I have found lots of support on knitting the “more complicated” stitches from people on Ravelry (including a link to the video I talked about in my last post). Now, I realize that those stitches are easy!

My next big fear is socks. I bought my first sock yarn this weekend. That is the absolutely beautiful yarn pictured above. I am going to start with socks for Little Bug. He wanted red and blue socks. I found this colorway (Lorna’s Laces in Argyle). It is soooo pretty (yet appropriate for a boy). He and I are both excited. I plan to swatch this week and get them started. I am going to use the sock recipe from Yarn Harlot’s Knitting Rules! book. After reading the section on socks and a few boards on Ravelry, I am no longer afraid…just excited.

After that, I plan to address my next fear…cables. I have seen a few videos. I am no longer afraid of cables, but I have to find a cabled project to start. Maybe a hat? I will have to look around (probably mostly on Ravelry). As you can see, Ravelry has both made me aware of my knitting fears and given me the tools to address them. Have I mentioned how much I love that site?!

I never thought I would describe anything in knitting as a disaster. Until now… I have looked total yarn failure in the face. This past week, I figured out a new and better way to do Continental Knitting from a video. All of the sudden, my knitting was beautiful, loose enough to do more complex stitches, and even. I frogged the January is for Karen scarf and started over. It was going beautifully. This is before with two full pattern repeats:

This is after, again with two full pattern repeats:

Things were goingwonderfully. The scarf was starting to take shape. Even though I was totally enjoying the project, I decided not to take it to the in-laws (they smoke). I decided to take the Blanket Buddy I was working on. I knitted a bit on it (the change in gauge from the new, improved knitting didn’t show since it was knitted in chenille). I was starting to struggle a bit on the head. The chenille is not stretchy, and the knitting calls for a bit of stretch. Because I was finding it challenging, I continued to work on it in bits all day.

And then it happened…the unthinkable (ok, maybe a bit overdramatic, but…)! As I was knitting, the yarn broke about three rows down (and several stitches away from where I was actually knitting). I had noticed that the yarn was a bit thinner in that section, but hadn’t worried. I stopped for a bit and contemplated what to do. I decided to keep knitting and see if I could fix it when I got to the part where I stuff the head. I picked the needles back up and suddenly several loops on the needle broke (not just one broke and the others unraveled….several broke in various places along the needle…not all together). Complete yarn failure! I just sat it down and watched for a few minutes. After a short temper tantrum, I took a few pictures and put the project in the yarn drawer in my craft room (yes, I have more than one storage place for yarn…it doesn’t all fit in one drawer). Here are some pictures:

This is what got completed:

What disintegrating yarn looks like (sorry so dark…I need to get an extra light for photographing projects when daylight isn’t avialable):

So there you have it. A knitting disaster!

Gnome Baby
Originally uploaded by Knitting Gnome

Well, today was about baby gnomes. My little gnome babies got a swingset. DH and some loved ones built it. LB had a blast “helping”. Of course, he helps in ways that only a three year old can (moving wood or hardware that they need so that it is just out of reach, using various wood pieces as a balance beam, etc). Of course, his “helping” outside gave me a chance to knit!

I finished LB’s gnome baby. He asked me to knit him something the other day. Given the short attention span, I knew it needed to be a quick project. I have been meaning to make him a gnome, so that was my chance. I finished it after LB went to bed (or rather crashed), but gave it to him when he woke briefly. He gave it a hug, and snuggled back into bed. The baby gnome is really small and fits perfectly in his hand. Now, onto a project for Critter.

I was almost overcome by yarn fumes today. I visited my ALYS (almost local yarn store) today. They just opened a couple months ago. I just discovered them this week (on Ravelry, of course). I haven’t been in a “real” yarn store in years. I walked in and almost fainted from the fumes! I made myself walk around the whole store twice without touching anything. Then I made myself walk around a few more times before selecting something. I walked out with some bamboo needles (size 11) and some really, beautiful yarn. Feel free to drool with me.

MMM…I had to pet it all the way home. I wish the picture truely captured the gorgeous colors! The purples, greys, olives, and blacks are just so pretty. Critter bug was with me. He stayed awake, even in his sling (I think he was a bit effected by the fumes himself). He flirted with the everyone and helped me make my choice. I just can’t wait to go back!! I could live there and be in heaven.

It finally came. The long awaited arrival of my Ravelry invite (I am KnittingGnome there)! I only checked my place on the waiting list a hundred times a day!! Now I am in! I spent most of last night playing around, uploading photos, finding people, etc. It is just so, darn cool! My DH thinks I am total geek for being this excited about a “knitting website”. First, we won’t mention what that makes him for being so excited about finding a good tide charts website! Secondly, he fails to see that it is more than a “knitting website”. It is information about knitting from thousands of knitters around the globe in one centralized location! It is amazing (and probably a bit geeky that I am so awed by it, but DH must not know that I think that).

I also found a whole group of people who do monthly dishcloth knitting (I didn’t find them on Ravelry, but they are there too)! Another totally geeky thing I am so excited about. Now I am in need of some more dishcloth yarn! Why dishcloths? They are quick and easy which gives some instant gratification (always good during bigger projects). They make nice gifts. They are a great way to practice a new technique because if they turn out badly the dishes will never know! I have been using dishcloths to practice continental knitting.

My first one (the blue dishcloth) turned out a bit wonky. Like I said, it will still scrub a pot, so it is ok. I am working on a new one that is turning out quite nice (even stitches, appropriate gauge…something that is rare for me). I am getting the hang of continental knitting. I am going to start the January dishcloth for the KAL tonight!

Now…just waiting on my gnome pattern!

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