Monday, December 24, 2007

Can you knit a fan?

I've read about people storing their knitting during the summer months, particularly storage tips on how to prevent creases from forming in half-completed projects. I didn't understand why a season would prevent people from knitting.

Cue one of the hottest summers I can ever remember. I don't want to think about wool. I would walk around naked, but it's been so hot that nudity wouldn't even help. (I'm not kidding, recently it was so hot and humid, I had difficulty breathing. I should move to Finland.)

I have packed up my knitting and stored it away safely. I am thus entering into a period of no-knitting limbo, until the weather plays fair again. Our summer lasts from December to February.

In the meantime, the tips for knitting project storage: gently roll your work, to prevent creases from forming. Store all your stitches on one needle, don't stop knitting in the middle of a row.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I'm online again!

Ooh, I've had a couple of sleepless nights about my abandoned blog! But now I'm back, in my new apartment with an adsl line up and running.

First, to respond to ekgheiy's comment:

"Your basket is absolutely awesome!! Nice work indeed. Did you use a pattern or did you wing it?"

Thank you very much, I've been putting it to good use to keep my bathroom products tidy. I used a pattern from the magazine "The Art of Knitting", issue 4, called "Woven Basket". I added the stripe, which was not present in the pattern, and also turned the stitched basket inside out, while the pattern suggests keeping the stitching on the outside.

Anyone can wing it by casting on an odd number of stitches and knitting 4 blocks using knit 1, purl 1 (moss stitch). If you knit the blocks to be square, you can knit 5 identical blocks, but in my case the sides were rectangular (a deviation from the original pattern) and so the fifth base block will be longer than the side blocks, to form a square. I knitted a block per day, so it's a quick knit. And yes, an absolute gem for stash-busting, since you can make many different coloured rows and use up every last bit of yarn.

Since moving into the new apartment, I have not been knitting at all, I've simply been too busy. Now that I am online again, with access to my blog, I simply have to make time for knitting again, to my delight.

In other news, my Ravelry invite arrived and I'm excited, but I haven't had a chance to do anything on it yet. I am not entirely sure where to start, either, but I'll make a cup of tea soon and then browse through it at my leisure. Luckily I already have a Flickr account, so uploading pics of my minute stash shouldn't be too difficult.

Lastly, because I like to include something to look at in my posts, I found some old magazines from the 1980's during my move. They had knitting patterns in them, so I'd like to share some images. I don't have a scanner yet*, so these are photographed. I couldn't find the really bad ones right now, but some of them were really terrible. These ones aren't completely horrendous, but we've certainly come a long way since the eighties, both in fashion and in yarns. Thank goodness for that!

I used to wear my hair like that in the 80's. But with scrunchies, not ribbons. The design is quite pretty, actually, although the shape of the garment is all wrong.

Wait, are those shoulder pads?
By the way, this is a unisex piece, according to the article.

That doesn't look very cool to me, in any sense of the word.


They have a lot of dodgy looking handknit toys in these magazines. I think today's toys look far better, no doubt because we've got much nicer yarns with which to recreate fur and other yummy textures. Compared to some of the other toys I've seen in the magazines, this clown isn't half bad.

Now maybe you're thinking "I don't know what Prazzie is smoking, but these are all terrible!". That is because you weren't privy to the atrocities in the Sewing Section of these magazines. I offer you now a glimpse of the madness, the horror, the pure insanity of it all:

Suddenly a unisex sweater with shoulder pads seems like an awfully good idea.

*I also don't have a couch yet, because I need to find someone willing to carry the couch I want up four or five flights of stairs, since it won't fit in the service elevator. I think this is why I haven't been knitting - knitting on a dining chair is not fun. Also, there is a waiting period for the couch (they manufacture on demand) and they've already closed the order book. I can only order the thing next year. Until then, knitting in discomfort is my only option.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mandie's remote blogging, and a knitted container

I've moved to a gorgeous new apartment and I'm delighted with everything, but I don't have internet access there yet. So this is me blogging from a distance - I've sent this post with my boyfriend to work, to upload when he gets the chance. And if he's reading this, thanks Andrew!

First things first: I have not started knitting my belly warmer, but I will definitely start it this week.

When we moved in, I told Andrew he could choose the colour scheme for the (completely white) bathroom, and he chose green. We purchased two green glass candle holders, two green washcloths and bath products with green labels.

It looks nice, but I had some pretty green yarn (don't ask where I got it from, I will deny owning anything more than the mini-stash I previously owned up to - all my other yarn is invisible until I need it (ok, I saw it in a shop and I just had to have it, so I bought four skeins, don't tell anyone)) and I thought that a container would be even nicer. So I knitted one. It is finished, but I need to wash and starch it, to stiffen the fabric more. I am not using it yet, but will buy some starch this week and tell it to stand up straight.

The basket is knit entirely in moss stitch (k1, p1)and measures 17cm x 17cm by 10cm. I added a stripe to the bottom panel, even though it won't be visible with items in it. Just to be flashy. I think it came out quite nicely and will post a picture of it in future, fulfilling its destiny in my brand new bathroom.

This was my first item knitted in moss stitch, ever. Obviously, since I only started knitting recently (check the first post date) and have been faithfully reporting about my knitting on here! The cushion, by the way, is still coming along, and I knit a new row every now and then. I find that I used to get slightly annoyed when I had to purl. I knitted so many garter stitch panels for that cushion, that I was completely comfortable with the knit stitch, but purling felt a bit odd. After knitting in moss stitch, however, I am now equally confident with both knitting and purling. In fact, when I knitted another row on my cushion (ribbed stitch), I knit 1, purled 1 and had to undo the purl stitch. I had forgotten how to just knit!

I've already decided on my next next next project - bedside rugs for my bedroom. The bed linen I use most frequently is cream with coloured stripes, so I want to knit some rugs to complement the bed linen. But that must wait, I need to finish these other projects first.

I find that being without internet really helps with my impatience when it comes to Ravelry.I asked Andrew to check it for me and there were 6000 odd people ahead of me. When I still had internet and checked, it was double that amount. Time just flies by when I'm not checking my Ravelry status every ten minutes.

Also, I knitted in public for the first time this past week! That was so cool, I am a confident enough knitter now to knit in front of other people. Andrew and I took a walk from our very centrally located new apartment (have I mentioned how incredibly awesome our new apartment is yet?) to one of our favourite Chinese restaurants for some take-away - a huge perk of moving is getting take-away while you settle in, right? I cleverly took my knitting with me to knit the green container while we waited. I also took my knitting with me once to knit while driving. I was surprised at how quickly I knitted - I only took the dark green with me, because I thought it would be a quick drive and I reached the light green stripe long before we were headed home. I wasn't driving, obviously. I'll definitely do that again, although I did suffer from a little bit of motion sickness in the beginning.

I'm working on the internet thing, but I don't even see a place for a telephone line in this aparment? They'll just have to come install one, because a girl could go crazy without her blog. In the meantime, I'm going to be knitting in my blogging time too. I have to get a new "waxy layer" on my 6 month old car, and the process will take about 2 to 3 hours. Can you believe that I am actually looking forward to that? They have a cute little waiting room with a tv and a snack shop at the place, so I can sit there and wait, watch some tv maybe, and knit for 2 to 3 hours without feeling guilty about having to do other things. I love how portable knitting is. What a great hobby.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

My mini-stash

I got 500g (in 10 50g skeins) of Elle Carress DK in Charcoal. I also got two 100g Elle Pure Gold DK in Azzure (aqua blue) and in Lily (white). I've expanded my needle collection with 4mm 35cm needles and 4mm circulars.

The plan is this:

Knit a belly warmer in the Charcoal in 2 x 2 rib. I'm thinking of leaving a plain (non-ribbed) panel on the front, for the embroidery. The embroidery will be a little birdie, Swiss darned onto the belly warmer, in the blue and white. I hope this will come out as awesome as I imagine it will.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Japanese Belly Warmers

I was introduced to these on the KnittingHelp forum. They are Japanese belly warmers and I love them!
It is just a band that you wear around your waist. I want to make several, both in stretchy knit fabric and knitted ones. I can't wait to start!

Update: Ok, I just purchased the knitting materials I need to make my first one. I suppose that until I start it, I am now the owner of a mini-stash. I'll upload pics of my plans and my mini-stash later, first - dinner!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

My warped reality

I just completed another square - the Reverse Stocking Stitch Ridge Square:

I must be living in a whole different world, because when I finished it, it looked great! The square is actually square, and flat and straight and it feels wonderfully stretchy: (this is me stretching it)

...but when I saw the pictures, it looked like a really boring and wonky square. If the camera doesn't lie, then I must be seeing my knitting through rose-coloured...eyes. I don't wear glasses. I could only take three pictures, because my camera batteries died, but I think I will try again, once I have some battery power, and daylight. I'll also block the other squares that I haven't gotten round to, so that they will all look neat and square-like. I'll do my squares proud, I will!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The mustard is growing on me

While I appreciate the beauty in all colours, there are a few that really disagree with me. I don't think anyone should wear orange, and yet they do. I like orange on pumpkins, flowers, sunsets. Just not on clothing. Look, in some instances, it looks good. A fellow knitter on KnittingHelp made some Halloween hats for her children, they were mostly black with some orange accents. She chose a pretty orange and it looked really good. But for the most part, I tend to stay away from that side of the colour spectrum.

I can't wear yellow, although I think it's a lovely colour. It makes me look ill.

The yarn I got with The Art of Knitting for the next square I made, chose to combine a touch of orange with yellow to get MUSTARD. Initially I disliked it a lot, but I have to say, now that I've knitted the square, it's really grown on me. Looking at the yarn that is left over, I would even go as far as saying it's quite pretty. I still couldn't wear that colour though. Probably.

Reverse Stocking Stitch and Star square:

Friday, September 28, 2007

Another Throw Square

Seed Stitch Square:

This was a very quick knit, even though I had to frog three or four rows, because I was paying more attention to the tv. I noticed, even while knitting it, that the pattern isn't very obvious, especially in the light pink colour. I hoped it would be clearer once done, but it's still not very easy to spot. I haven't blocked it yet, I'll do that tomorrow. I just pinned it to a cushion to take a photo. I couldn't find enough pins, so I used needles, including a darning needle. That's why the whole thing looks terribly skew. This square rolls up more than any other square I've done, I hope I can curb that with some steam tomorrow.

The First Square

Here it is, finally:
The square has been done for ages now, but I never finished the embroidered heart on it. I started, but left it after a couple of stitches and it has been bugging me ever since. This is the first square you get to knit in The Art of Knitting, and will join all the others, eventually, to become this throw:

I'm going to go knit the next square now. Thank goodness this one is done! It's really been weighing heavily on my mind. Dear Carlien did hers a long time ago and we agreed that her heart resembled an apple a bit more than a heart, so I was nervous about doing mine. I marked it out with basting stitches first, and then blanket stitched along the lines. It's still not perfect, but heck, it's close enough!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Yes, There Are Sharp Items In My Luggage

I've been unable to post to my blog for a while, since I've been travelling. I've been hauling my knitting with me, which is not so easy nowadays. I would love to be able to knit while I fly, but oh well.

The floor cushion is coming along fine, if slowly. I'm not spending as much time on it as I'd like to, so my initial goal of finishing it in three weeks is long gone. Now I am pleased if I can knit a row now and then. So far, I have the bottom part done, and three of the sides.

I am busy with the top panel now, which consists of 93 stitches, knitted in a rib pattern. At the end, I am going to use smocking stitch and pull the ribs into a honeycomb pattern. Against the bright blue of the cushion I used as a background, the yarn looks faded and grey, but it's actually a very nice denim blue. Because there are so many stitches on my needle, the knitting is bunched up. I can't wait for the final result, I'm sure it's going to be lovely. And the cats will love it too.

Knitting the little squares for my throw has been a pleasure. I find that I can't wait for my next issue of The Art of Knitting. The magazines are in great demand and aren't even displayed in stores anymore. There simply aren't enough copies, so you have to put your name on a list and even then it's first come, first served. So apparently many people are knitting. I suppose even seasoned knitters would appreciate the magazines, because of the pretty patterns and the stitch library in each issue.

Here is my Mock Rib with Garter Stitch Ridges square:

And this is my Little Ladders square - curling up a bit, but it will behave once I'm done with it.

A close-up of the Little Ladders pattern.

My final piece of knitting news is that my boyfriend has also started knitting. He's using a chunky yarn on 10mm needles and is knitting a scarf in garter stitch. He's knitting 20 stitches, but regularly splits the yarn to end up with 21. Then I have to fix it, for some reason, and then I also tend to knit one or three rows - "just to get him started". This way every fourth row will be his and the rest will be mine. Next time I'll show him how to fix it himself.

I'm going on a rowing trip this weekend and I definitely can't take my knitting along on that one! I also want to sew a dress this week, so I'll likely only get back to knitting next week. As much as I enjoy the act of knitting, I can hardly wait to see my final results. But before I get there, I'll have to fly all my knitting back to Cape Town, yet again. Oh, and I'm also going to be moving house...hopefully by then my floor cushion will be ready for use, because I absolutely refuse to take my old couch into my new apartment! Until I can afford a new one, I guess I'll be sitting on the floor.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Industrial Revolution was bound to happen.

I realised, while knitting row after row for the bottom of my cushion, that knitting machines are a good thing. Smart thing. But while allowing a machine to do the work would have had me resting my feet on a cushion a week ago, this slow-moving hand-knitting offers other pleasures.

I enjoy sewing my own clothes and knitting takes this one step further - I am making my own fabric. To see the neat and even fabric I'm creating so tediously by forming intricate loops - well, it's damn satisfying! It's also relaxing, doing something at a slower pace. And I don't feel as though I am wasting time when I watch tv, because I'm doing two things at once. Hand-made looks and feels different. As neat as my work is, it's still obviously not machine-made. And I like it. It looks cosy and feels, to my biased hand, better than machine knitting.

Not many people take the time nowadays to create things from scratch. We buy ready-made pastry and sauces in packets and hobby kits with pre-cut bits that you only have to glue or sew together and decorate. I'm probably going to cause some jaws to drop if I tell people that I made the whole thing by myself. With two pointy sticks. And some blue string.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

And then there were two

I completed the second side-panel of the floor cushion. I'm bored with knitting the long bits now, I think I will now attempt the bottom.

My fingers are used to hours of typing or even better, hours of mashing buttons on the PlayStation, but this is a whole new kind of pain. I experienced soreness and stiffness for the first time today and the fact that it is winter and cold doesn't help at all. I feel quite pleased with my dedication, as illustrated by the fact that I knitted through the pain!

Apparently we should expect bucketloads of rain this weekend, starting tomorrow. Guess I'll stay in and knit, then.

Needles instead of Photoshop

I can't believe I haven't done the graphics for this blog yet. I am so ashamed. Maybe I'll whip out my graphics tablet this weekend. Well, not whip out, since it's always by my side, but pull it closer and use it.

Ok, I've plopped up some make-do-for-now adjustments...I feel much better with some of my personality reflected on here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

One panel done

I finished the first panel of my floor cushion, mostly while watching Heroes. And my friend Carlien, once a mocker of knitters, has purchased chunky needles and is knitting a scarf. I'm so proud! I've recruited someone! We're well on our way to becoming Perfect Grannies. All grannies should knit, or at least be able to, as far as I'm concerned. And bake yummy crunchies with oatmeal!

On the photo it looks like the one end is considerably wider than the other, but I just checked it again and it's fine. Weird. I'll get started on number 2 now.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter down, floor cushion to go.

My weekend has gone by in a blur. I finished knitting the square for my blanket this weekend, I just have to embroider a heart on it now. I include a picture of the corner of the square - I have started the embroidery and didn't want to capture a couple of stitches that don't form anything yet.

I started reading the last Harry Potter book early this morning, around 4 or 5 in the morning! It was excellent, although I am sad to see the last of Harry. With that out of the way, I can get back to knitting. I shall start on the floor cushion today and I hope to have it completed within two to three weeks. I have no idea how long it will take to knit nine 50g balls of yarn into something useful, so I hope that is a reasonable goal.

During the knitting of my square, the first thing I have knitted since junior school, I had a question. I searched for the answer online and apparently it was such a stupid question, almost no one had thought to answer it. I did find my answer, though, so I will repeat it here. I wanted to know how to count knitted rows. Not how to keep track, but what actually constituted a row. The answer is to count the ridges on the knitting and multiply that number by two. If you stretch your knitting out a bit, you will see ridges and indented rows (these form ridges on the wrong side of the knitting). Now I know.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Calm down, all is well

Oh thank goodness, my magically tranforming yarn has stopped acting up. Maybe I was too tired last night, or hallucinating, because without changing my technique, my knitting is suddenly fine again. What a relief.

Maybe I really should blame it on the cats - last night I was knitting with two cats on my lap, tonight there was only one. I have to add that these cats aren't mine. I am not a crazy knitting cat lady. But give me a couple of years.

What I've learnt: Avoid pretty plum-coloured yarn

I have two balls of nearly identical yarn. They are small (10g) balls, one is cream and one is plum. Apart from the colour, they are identical.

I knitted a tension swatch with the cream, so as to not handle the plum too much. The cream knitting came out beautifully. When I attempted to knit with the plum, it resulted in an unholy mess. (By the way, my tension was almost perfect, my rows were spot on target, 32 rows in 10cm, and my stitches were just a little too loose - I was quite chuffed with myself.)

Time and time again my plum knitting looks, for lack of a better word, holey. I tried three times and finally gave up. I will try again later tonight, and if it doesn't look better this time, I will use other yarn. It can't be me. My cream swatch was fine, neat and delicate and stretchy and soft. I'm using the same needles. I'm going to knit past any holes and ignore the whole thing if it looks like a lace doily. And blame a cat.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cats. Yarn. Oh Darn.

Why on earth do cats love knitting so much?

We have three cats, but only two are worth mentioning. The third is an emo cat who hates the world and everyone in it. If it could grow its fur long and wear eyeliner and be very very angry all the time, I think it would.

The other two cats generally ignore me. If I want to pet something, I have to go find them and dig them out and they always do the dead weight trick to try and discourage you from picking up their heavy and stretchy bodies.

Since I've started knitting, they are all over me. I mean, they climb on top of me, and my knitting, and sit on top of it. If I dare move, they take a swipe at my yarn. What's the attraction? As soon as those two needles slide against each other, the cats are there.

The only explanation I can come up with is the 'hard to get' theory. When you call a cat, they won't come unless there is something in it for them. Like food. Cats aren't petted when you want to pet. They are petted when they want to be petted. As soon as a cat is unwanted, like when you are reading a paper, the previously cold and distant cat will make itself comfortable on top of your paper. If I have to guess, the cats don't appreciate the amount of time I spend doing things other than trying to convince them to come out and play.

I left my knitting on the table - let's hope it's still in one piece when I get there...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Glad I got that Burda

I forgot to mention that when I paged through my Burda to see the patterns I'd like to make, I noticed that they had some very nice knitwear in there too. That looks a lot more advanced, though, so give me a year...

Day One - Got My Supplies

Yesterday I saw a knitted floor cushion in a magazine. The article included the pattern and since it fit on one page, I figured "this must be easy". I decided to knit it.

I don't knit.

Last night I downloaded several how-to video clips and registered on the knittinghelp forum. I introduced myself so that I couldn't back out today and pretend nothing ever happened.

Today I went to the best knitting supplies store in Port Elizabeth - Little Angel. I purchased the ten balls of yarn the pattern requires, two pairs of 5 mm knitting needles in two different lengths, a darning needle, a measuring tape and a small pair of scissors.

I was itching to give it a go, but had to go watch a movie with my sister and a friend. While we were waiting for the movie to start, I decided to go to CNA, a newsagent, to see if the latest Burda was out yet. Burda is a sewing magazine with clothing patterns. The first thing we saw when we entered the store was one of those monthly "learn to" magazines, that always comes with free stuff. You know the kind, they start off being almost free, and in fine print they state the regular price. This series is called 'The Art of Knitting' and the first issue cost R9,95. A milkshake costs more than that. You also get a pair of knitting needles (in a size I didn't have yet!) and two small balls of yarn. Oh, and a DVD with some basic instructions.

I had told my friend, Carlien, about my desire to take up knitting, and so we laughed when we saw this knitting magazine - what a coincidence! I found my Burda, took it to the cash register and saw Carlien moving towards the queue with this massive cardboard square, containing the knitting magazine, needles, DVD and balls of yarn. She's buying it, she said. Now, I'm a cheapskate. I can learn how to knit for free, online. I can get my patterns for free, online. But R9,95 is practically free and I'm nothing if not dedicated, so I bought it too.

Tonight I got home, took out the needles, watched the DVD and started knitting with the practice yarn. I have to make it clear that I am not a complete stranger to knitting. I was taught how to knit at school - I just never took a shine to it. But this is different. I want that pretty floor cushion! I soon had my stitches on and off I went. Easy. I also really like the magazine and the patterns in it, so I've decided to continue buying it.

I will start on the cushion tomorrow. Right now I am not even going to redesign the look of this blog - I have a square to knit! I want to practice keeping an even tension before I start on the large piece. The squares will end up as a knitted blanket made up out of 90 squares.

So far, day one = good.