Wednesday, December 12, 2007

scarf love

Lace Leaf Scarf

pattern: Lace leaf scarf #35, Vogue Knitting magazine, Spring/Summer 2005
yarn: Noro Cash Iroha
color: natural
amount: most of 4 skeins, somewhat less than 396 yds.
needles: US 4/3.5 mm*
finished measurements: 7x76"

I made this scarf for a friend. I wanted something that complemented her personality and life; this earthy, textured yarn and leaf pattern are good reflections of both. I couldn't be happier with it -- the pattern was fun and easy to knit. The yarn is perfect, nubby and thick and thin and very natural looking. The fabric is soft and supple with a wonderful drape. And I love the pattern, down to the leaf design and wavy edges.

I made a few small modifications to the pattern. First, I slipped the first stitch of each row (knitwise on the WS row and purlwise on the RS row) to make a smoother edge. Second, because I used a heavier yarn than was called for, I made the scarf narrower than written -- I used two columns of leaves instead of three. And I did twelve pattern repeats for each half, instead of the suggest ten. Ten probably would have been enough but until I blocked it I wasn't sure, and I wasn't going back at that point.

I had test-blocked it (see post here) so I knew the yarn would respond well. After a good dunk in cool water and gentle squeezing and blocking, it's very soft, and the pattern shows up well.

I used a Kitchener stitch (the tutorial I used is here) to join the two halves of the scarf. It was my first time putting two pieces together and I was nervous about it but I couldn't be happier. It made a smooth, seamless join that's almost invisible. It did require concentration while I was doing it but the stitch was quick and easy to learn and I loved doing it -- I was having so much fun I could have gone on for hours! The stitch is pure genius and pulled the two halves together perfectly.

The join, above, and below. Trying to trace the exact line almost makes me dizzy.

I'm in love. Scarf love.

*I knit loosely so my needle size is usually down one or two sizes from what others might use.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

something to be grateful for

I finally finished my Noro striped scarf!

Noro Striped Scarf
by Jared Flood of brooklyntweed fame, here
yarn: Noro Silk Garden. silk, mohair, wool
colors: 243 (two skeins), 226, 241 (one skein each)
amount: 2 of one colorway, one each of the other two
finished measurements: about 6" by 65"
needles: US 5 (3.75 mm)*

I started on this way back in April, I think. Went great guns for awhile and then slacked off knitting for a few months. I loved watching the colorways change as it went along. I like the scarf, and after blocking, it's fairly soft. But I have to admit I'm kind of tired of it from working on it so long, so although I'm wearing it, I'll be switching it off with other scarves.

One thing I wish I had done differently. I used one colorway, 2 skeins, throughout the entire scarf. For the other two skeins I ended up using 2 different colorways. I wish I hadn't. I generally prefer casual and asymmetrical over formal and symmetrical, but in this case I don't like that one side of the scarf is more purples and the other side is more blues. That's because of the 4th skein I used for the second half. I do like the blues in it -- I just wish I had either waited and found 2 with similar blues to go throughout, rather than only on one half, or had used mainly purples throughout.

Either way, the pattern is great fun and I'm enjoying my scarf. And I'm very grateful it's done!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Hug someone you love, and count your blessings!

*I always have to put this disclaimer in: I knit loosely, so most people would be using a size or two larger than I used.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Benefits of Blocking

I tried to come up with a clever title for this post -- you can see where that got me. I'll probably come up with something incredibly witty and brilliant next time I can't sleep.

On with the post:

In case you're like me and haven't had tons of experience, and wonder if blocking is really worth all the fuss... here's a good example of when it is.

As is obvious to most, I'm sure, the part nearer the needles is unblocked; the section furthest from the needles was blocked and dried about a week ago.

What a difference a little water, some pins, and a few days make.

I blocked this still on the needles because I wanted to make sure the yarn would block well -- otherwise I was going to have to find a different pattern and/or yarn, which I've already been through a few times. The scarf is for a friend and I want it to be as special as she is so I'm not taking any chances. Full story in another post, but for today I just wanted to show the benefits of blocking. You can see the difference it makes in appearance; what you can't get from the photo is the feel -- the yarn became softer and much more supple after blocking. I'm extremely happy with it.

Special thanks to Laura and Nora; they both encouraged blocking in comments to one of my earlier posts. That was part of what inspired me to block the scarf at this point; I probably wouldn't have thought of it otherwise. As it turns out, the scarf would have been fine, but I'm glad I did this, and I'm a convert to the benefits of blocking!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Yes, that means exactly what you think it means: I finally got my invitation to! If you've been invited, you can find me as naturegirl... if you haven't been invited yet, you'll have to wait until you are, or until they open up the site to the public. At that point you won't have to be a member to browse, so it will give you a chance to look around before joining if you aren't sure it's for you.

I don't have much posted yet but I've been looking around and generally am pleased with what I'm seeing. I especially like the way you can catalog your projects, yarns, patterns, etc., and see them all easily.

If you're on Ravelry, I'd love to know your user name so I can check out your projects.

In knitting news, I'm slow, slow, slow to make much progress on much of anything. My socks have been set aside while I work on things for other people: a set of dishcloths as a "Happy Remodeled Kitchen!" gift for a friend (completed and given); a scarf for a Christmas present; a shawl for my mom.

gift dishrags

The scarf that's a present has gone through several changes. I decided I didn't like the first pattern I picked for that particular present (multiple reasons, but I still love the pattern, from
The Knitter's Bible: Knitted Accessories, the mighty mitred squares scarf). I tried a couple of other patterns and wasn't happy with them, either... finally decided the yarn was all wrong (Noro Kureyon in a colorway that just isn't hitting me right now that I'm working with it -- probably the only colorway they make that I don't like!). Found a pattern I thought would be perfect for my friend and bought new yarn at one of my favorite LYS, Knitting on the Square in Chardon, Ohio (hi, Kate!). Knitted several swatches and got into the scarf several inches before I decided the pattern wasn't working for me -- but I still wanted something with a strong nature theme. Poked around the internet and found Vogue Knitting's Lace Leaf Scarf (photo here) in the Spring-Summer 2005 issue; tracked down an issue on ebay... just got it Tuesday so now I'm ready to swatch and knit. I think I'm finally on track... but does anyone else go through so many changes for one gift? Sheez.

I'll spare you more stories that don't amount to any real knitting. I hope to be knitting more now so maybe there'll be more to show and tell soon.

See you at Ravelry!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fair Needlework

And by fair, I mean county fair, as in the Great Geauga County Fair, held in Geauga County, Ohio, every fall. I saw quite a bit of needlework of various kinds, including knitting. Unfortunately, all the exhibits were behind chicken wire fences (really. I guess people can't keep their hands to themselves), so I couldn't get a close look at a lot of it. And, as much as I enjoyed the fair, they didn't do the best job of displaying all the fine work people did. But I took some photos (through the holes in the chicken wire) and thought I'd share them.

You can see what else we did at the fair here (and don't miss the fair food here!).

Meanwhile, on with the show.

And mostly because they're just too cute, here's a sample of where some of your fibers come from.

The angora...

...and the alpaca.

Love the modified Afro.

I didn't get as much inspiration as I'd hoped for, mostly because we were always at least 4' from the exhibits and I couldn't see details, but there were many hours of love, enjoyment, and talent put into all the work there. Visit your own county fair -- hey, why not enter your own county fair! And happy knitting!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Multi-directional Diagonal Scarf

Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf

pattern by Karen Baumer; find it here
yarn: Noro Kureyon, color #188
100% wool
amount: 3 skeins (108 yds., 50 gr. each)
finished measurements: apx. 6" x 72"
needles: size 5mm (US 8) *

This is hardly my first completed knit project but in some ways it sure feels like it, although I'm not sure why. It feels like a major accomplishment and a huge monkey off my back. The pattern involved a new technique (short rows) -- that part I enjoyed -- but I got sick to death of it before I got done and it's a gift so I felt like I had to finish it. I've decided I don't care for the pattern that much although maybe it's just the yarn choice; I think if worked in something that has texture/variegation but isn't self-striping it might appeal to me more. I also got tired of the colorway, which is odd because I like purples and greens. Maybe getting tired of something is normal for knitting. I did love doing short rows and I'm pleased with the overall result. It feels, to me, warm and snugly, and I like the drape. I sure hope my friend likes it because come the holidays, it's going to be hers!

A couple of notes: Although I've heard that short row knitting can leave holes where the rows join, I didn't have that problem. All I can figure is that I picked the right technique for joining (the pattern gives a choice of two; I chose to SKP). Also, I really like the way the selvages formed -- a nice flat edge with a neat look to it that goes well with the pattern and the yarn. I used the alternate ending mentioned at the bottom of the pattern so both ends would look alike.

This is also the first time I've blocked something
so I wasn't really sure what I was doing. I wouldn't normally bother with a scarf, and the baby blankets I've done didn't need it. On this scarf, my stitches at one end were slightly tighter than the other end so I wanted to see if I could even out the width. It's a gift, after all, and I want it to look really nice. I was afraid of somehow damaging the scarf so I barely dampened it, carefully and gently squeezed it, and took to my blocking pad (a camping pad with a beach towel on top). I started pinning and smoothing the fabric from the center out across the width (it didn't take me long to realize I didn't want to pull on the edges), then let it dry. The entire scarf is the same width. For now.

*for the same look, others might want to go up a needle size or two -- I knit loosely and always go down a couple of sizes from any pattern recommendation. Initially I did try this with a larger size needle and the more open look was nice but I decided I wanted the look of a tighter weave for this fabric/pattern/yarn/friend.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Red Scarf Project

I know this has been well publicized but I thought I'd mention it just in case someone is unaware. The Red Scarf Project sends a Valentine's package to foster children (really they're young adults) that are in college or trade schools, and it's time to mail those scarves in now through Oct. 15.

I got inspired yesterday and found some yarn and have started knitting like crazy. I may be unemployed but I can still find enough money for yarn for a scarf for someone who's been through a lot more than I have.

I chose earthy brown (mainly because I couldn't find a red yarn I liked and didn't have time to shop around), Patons Shetland Chunky Tweeds, and am making a mistake rib scarf.

Keep on knitting...


Finally, a finished object! More about this in a later post but for now, I just had to post a photo.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

You might be an obsessed knitter...

...if you find yourself ignoring the plot of an action movie because you're trying to get a handle on the knit scarf worn by an extra in a street scene.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Things I've Learned

One day into my Charade socks and I've already had to frog and rethink and sort some things out.
  • I found knitting with 5 needles just plain ridiculous -- not that I have experience with this at all, but 30 minutes of struggling and two mistakes later, I decided 4 needles *might* be easier. I frogged (because of the mistakes), cast on over 3 needles, and started again. I haven't looked ahead at the pattern to see if I'll have to make adjustments later on but I'm sure I can work that part out when I get to it (says Scarlett). So far the 4 needles do seem much less cumbersome than 5.
  • I knit continental and as far as I can tell, there's no good way to hold the extra needles. Again, I have no experience with this, but I looked on the internet and tried various ways of holding the needles and I'm just not getting it. Both hands are somewhat active -- the left hand index finger moves down and then up when I purl, and the right hand does most of the other work -- and so far what has worked for me is to just let the extra two needles drop behind my work and knit as if I'm only using two needles.*
  • It seems critical (to me) to hold the two non-working needles behind the two working needles. Again, there may be other ways to do this, but I'm not getting it if there is.
  • Knitting with fingerling yarn for a first sock project probably wasn't the best idea. Add to that that I have to drop down a couple of needle sizes to get gauge, which means I'm working with tiny needles. Add to that the yarn I chose splits easily. I'm tempted to set it all aside, go pick up a heavier yarn, and start a new pair of socks... but I'm also very stubborn and determined to see this through. The socks will probably be a great learning experience -- i.e., a total disaster.
  • One other thing I've decided is that instead of doing a twisted rib for the cuff, I'm just doing a 2x2 rib. The twisted rib wasn't difficult at all but with the fine yarn that splits easily, the smaller needles, and the fact that this is a first-socks project, I decided to take the easy way out for the cuffs.
Plugging away!

*if anyone knows a better way, please help me out! Please, please, please!


Added, Wednesday afternoon: some success! Ignoring the non-working needles is working fine (with bamboo needles the stitches aren't trying to slip off) and I have three rows done and it's already starting to feel smoother.

On with the show.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Charade socks

pattern: Charade by Sandra Park
yarn: Brown Sheep Company's Wildfoote
color: Forget Me Not
fiber: 75% washable wool, 25% nylon
needles: Plymouth Bamboo US 1*

My first socks. I looked at a lot of patterns trying to find one that had everything I was looking for in a first-socks pattern. Two rose to the top; Charade won out. I had hoped to do short-row heels instead of flaps (because flaps seem intimidating) but after looking at so many patterns I decided that flaps wouldn't be so difficult and it would be good experience for me to learn how to do it both ways.

I didn't want a totally plain (stockinette) sock but I didn't want a difficult pattern, either, since this is my first sock.

I cast on over 4 needles instead of 3 because both of the top two patterns I picked called for that.

I hope I know what I'm doing!

*I knit loosely and usually have to go down 2 needles sizes to get gauge, so larger needles would probably work for those who don't knit so loosely.

PS. I love that it's so easy to use flickr to look up what others have done with various patterns. I appreciate clear, concise directions but I'm also a very visual person. Seeing examples of this sock inspired me and will help as I progress. Thanks to all who have gone before me and who share their work and expertise! Knitters are the best!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

socks. gulp.

Last spring I fell victim to sock mania. Not that I've ever knit any, but I saw cute ones all over the internet, and the great yarns in the shops, and before I knew it I was thinking, "Socks! my next project! and I'll learn new skills!" and with that justification, I started buying sock yarn.

So now I have all this sock yarn. The other day I was looking at it while searching for yarn for a WIP and suddenly realized I really wasn't all that interested in knitting socks. Those tiny needles, and so many at once, and oh, gosh, doing the heel and stuff... just sounded like something I didn't care about tackling. But I do have all this yarn so I left out one ball out and dutifully picked up needles to knit a swatch. If it turns out I really don't like doing socks, I can figure out some other use for my sock yarn.

So I swatched. And yes, the needles are tiny, and there are some new techniques staring me in the face -- but the yarn is so darned cute! and the stitches are so small! I think I'm hooked all over again. (Well, given that last night I was thinking of sock swatches and patterns as I fell asleep, I'd say I
am hooked all over again).

An aside: I love seeing close-up photos of my work because it helps me see where my knitting needs improvement, which is just about everywhere at this point, but the good news is that at least I'm better than I was even a few months ago.

So, as soon as I find a good, basic sock with short rows for the heels (I like short rows), I'll be off and running! Wish me luck...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

qu'est-ce que c'est ? (what is this?)

I went to a barn sale recently and came away with, among other things, a handful of knitting needles and crochet hooks that were bundled in a bag -- all for $2.

Some of the needles are bent and probably not much use, and I don't think I'll ever use a crochet hook as small as some of the ones I brought home, but I figured if I got one good set of needles, I'd come out ahead. Well, I got several good needles and hooks, including some dpn's in small sizes, and, not pictured because they're already in use, a set of English knitting needles the exact size I've been looking for and an old set of Susan Bates knitting needles that are also a size I was looking for. I'm a happy camper over this purchase!

However, I have some questions...

1. What are the pokey things for? I can see them for sewing (turning corners of collars, for example) but couldn't figure out their use in knitting/crocheting.

2. Why do some of the crochet hooks have this clippy thing on the end? Was this a pre-nerd-pen-in-pocket-protector kind of thing? I'm thinking not but I can't figure out what else the clip would be for.

3. And, along the same lines, why do these pokey things have clippy things on the end?

4. Finally, what about the crochet hooks with the bend in the shaft? What is that for?

Oh -- if you know better names for any of these items than "pokey thing," etc., please feel free to educate me.

I did a couple of searches but wasn't getting anywhere... I'm hoping someone out there can help me. It's more out of curiosity than anything else... inquiring minds and all that.

Many thanks!

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Here's what I'm working on at the moment:

  • multidirectional diagonal scarf for a Christmas present. Noro Kuyeron. Free pattern by Karen Baumer here

  • a ribbed scarf for me. Noro Silk Garden. I'm following Jared's instructions (here) but with different colors.

  • healing shawl for my mom, who is never warm. Lion Brand Homespun. Free pattern here

I have a number of sock yarns but I have yet to delve into socks... that's my next project. I want to make a pair (or two) of handwarmers, too. And I have yarn and pattern for a poncho. I know, I know. Ponchos are probably hopelessly out of style now, but I like them, I want to make one, and I march to my own fashion drummer, no matter how out of step I may be with trends.

And of course I have a bit of a stash with yarns for undetermined projects.

That's it for the moment. Stay tuned

Monday, July 23, 2007

Knit spit beginnings...

I decided to dedicate a blog to my knitting and my struggles and successes with it. I'm a novice knitter but getting borderline obsessive about it, so a blog is in order, right?

my knitting history

I started with embroidery and crochet when I was pretty young -- 6 or 7 -- my grandmother got me going and I took off from there. I progressed on to photography, quilting, leaded and copper foil stained glass, cross stitch, among others. Sometime in my early 30's I decided it would be cool to learn to knit so I made several baby blankets. I was surprised at how well they turned out and was enthralled with the idea of knitting but intimidated enough that I never progressed past anything flat, and I eventually let the whole thing drop. Besides, it was hard for me to handle the needles. No matter how many books I looked at or knitters I talked with, the process just wasn't comfortable for me.

Now, some 20 or so years later, I'm walking through a craft store right by the yarn section -- and wow, what yarns! When did all this happen? The textures, the colors, the feel... the colors!! I was drawn in again and picked up my old knitting needles (and some new ones), hauled out what few references I had, and started knitting again.

However, although I was drawn to the idea of knitting, it still wasn't working for me the way I thought it should. I saw it as a smooth process, something that would be almost meditative in its motion and patterns, and yet I was struggling to hold the yarn over my fingers, maintain tension, and get an even gauge.

Then something made me look up a knitting video on the internet. Continental knitting. It only took a minute into the video for me to realize that this was my problem -- I'd been trying to throw the yarn and apparently, for whatever reason, that just doesn't work well for me. It took me less than 5 minutes of continental knitting to get the hang of it. This is what I wanted knitting to be! No more dropping the needle to move the yarn over the point -- I could do everything in one smooth motion! It was smooth, it was meditative, it was no longer a struggle, and I was hooked for good!

I'm still a beginner, by my count, but I'm having a blast with it, trying not to get obsessive about knitting, and learning new things with every project I try.

And that's what it's all about anyway -- the journey. Happy trails, everyone!