The Manly Maze: Part one

About 10-15% of the way done and already learned a couple of interesting lessons. 1) I knit much smaller in the round then I do flat. I will have to learn to buy extra fiber to do gauge tubes and forget swatching all together for my round projects. (My frugal self does not much like this particular lesson.) Not sure why this happens, as I purl smaller then I knit, so it would seem logical that the opposite be true. It’s not though. 2) I really should read up on knitting theory and how things work before trying to be clever. I’m still too green to understand what I’m doing 9 time out of 10 until I’ve actually done them. For now, I *think* things will be alright, but we’ll have to see. DH is an odd size and one is just too small, the next one up would be way too big. So I was going to make one in the middle, until I realized that with the pattern, that just won’t work. Must learn to read ahead and pay attention to pattern details! So far though, it’s going well and I’m doing my first ever contrast color pattern. The world is still here.

But anywho!
Manly Maze is going well and I am thus-far pleased with it. Couldn’t quite get my gauge right while swatching, so I thought I’d be clever and cast-on the next size up and lose about 2 inches when all was said and done. (Mental note: learn how to properly swatch, as annoying as it is.) This didn’t quite work out in practice as it should have in theory. Luckily, I think I’ve managed to get it wide enough because, had I followed the pattern and ignored the nagging voice telling me to try it on him first, it would have been too long and too big. The pattern would have been too low on the chest and arms and the arm holes too low. So I’m pre-emptively calling this a good save and thanking the heavens that I’m overly-cautious and worried things won’t fit. (Mental note: this is a good trait to retain.)

There’s a slight pull on the back that the camera caught. It isn’t noticable otherwise, not to me anyway. It’s from when I realized that size 4’s were giving me too small a gauge and it was time to go up a size. Yes, I’m lazy, I didn’t frog back. I would think a good washing and blocking should fix it right up.And a side view. I’m currently 5 or 6 rows below this point and am optimistic this first large project will turn out. If I don’t drag my bottom, I should have it done before we go home, if not, I’ll just have to finish it there, no biggie.

Irritation can lead to a lack of updates…

…and I was irritated in spades by my latest project. So it’s been awhile since I’ve felt like blogging about knitting–though I have been keeping myself busy with small projects I haven’t been overly into. I will get into my irritation in just a bit.

First, happier things: FOs!

My Voodoo Wristwarmers have technically been done since the beginning of September, however, I was lazy and didn’t feel like weaving the tails in before moving on. I finally finished that small detail the other day so I can declare them finished. To knit these, I used the dual circular method, not dpns. I rather enjoyed knitting them that way and I later used the same technique for my Foliage hat rather then try dpns at that time. I also learned how to make a multiple stitch button hole with a twisted purl cast-on, which caused me much confusion and I cursed it several times before figuring it out. In the end, the only thing I don’t like about these is the thumb holes made by that method: six stitches is just a bit tight on my thumbs, should have increased it to 7 or even 8. Oh well, you live, you learn. They’re still wearable and match my first hat I made. Still have enough of the yarn left over for more wristwarmers, or possible even another hat. I never realized I’d get so much mileage out of that yarn.

My newest FO is a Punkin hat I made for my son on a whim. They don’t really do trick or treating in Texas, but we may go to a pizza party on the base, so I thought I’d pick up some cheap acrylic and get a hat made really quick so my son has a costume if we decide to go. Learned to do i-cord from this–had a good giggle when I found out the “i” stands for “idiot.” Also learned I refuse to use cheap acrylic in the future except for toys; it was so splitty and kept tangling on itself. Icky all around. It was so distasteful, I stretched the project out 3-4 times as long as I should have because I couldn’t stand to knit with it for more then a couple of rounds at time. The leaf, on the other hand, went very fast and was fun. I’m glad I did that part first or I may never have finished the hat. Didn’t stick to the pattern at all. Used sport weight yarn instead of worsted, and knit on size 4 dpns. Cast on for the child size and it ended up perfect for a toddler. Didn’t follow the length recommendations either, just stopped when I felt like it and tried it on him. Went well, I think.

But onto the vexing part. Weeks ago, I cast on a sweater for my husband, “The Manly Maze” from No Sheep for You. I decided to use the recommended yarn, sight unseen, never touched. Splurged a bit on it. I will say this: I hate working with hemp. I wasted time and money on that endevor. Finally gave up when after several sittings, countless restarts, I realized that no matter what I did, that fiber did not want to be happy and was going to cause me nothing but heartache. So I frogged the sweater and ordered some nice superwash wool from knit picks instead. It arrived the other day. The colors are different then I thought they’d be, but after one sitting, I’m already as far as I was on the other sweater and it looks so much nicer. And my blood pressure is not going through the roof just thinking of it anymore. Lesson learned: Hemp is not a beginner’s fiber. It will sit in my yarn tub until I decide what to do with it as my son destroyed the receipt before I could learn I didn’t like it. So I can’t even return it. Thus is life. Oh well, with some experience and given time to forget how much it hurt my hands to work with, and how tricky it is to gauge, and its unforgiving nature, I have enough I could eventually make myself an Eiffel out of it. If not, the maker’s site claims it makes fantastic dishrags. Or I have enough to make a couple of Market bags. I have options, I just need experience and time.

Not far enough on the Maze to justify posting pictures, should be next time I blog. (Unless for some reason unknown to man, wool decides to turn on me as well and then I guess we’re all doomed.)

Of FOs and Ravelry…

After months of waiting, I was invited to join the ranks of Ravelry (http://www.ravelry.com/) on the first of the month. I about jumped out of my chair and danced with excitement. I’ve spent a few days uploading projects and checking it out; I have to say, it’s pretty spiffy and I think after they put everything up they want to, it will be even better. How exciting that I can keep track of everything in one place: my stash, needles, FOs, WIPs…and I can see other people who have done the same projects or have similar yarn. Very cool site. I’m Wit over there. So shocked that this late in the game, I was able to get a name with no numbers or silly spellings! Clean, simple, brief. Love it.
So there was the Ravelry part of my entry. Onto Finished projects! Nothing makes me happier then a finished project…except perhaps petting the yarn and dreaming of what a pretty thing it will become–now that I know I am able to do it.

The sweater for my son was completed on the Second. I’ve been having quite the week! Overall, I am so happy with how it turned out. The bottom still rolls despite the garter stitch, but that’s so minor that I’m not going to try and fix it. I’ll just have to keep it in mind the next time I make this pattern. For the only thing I love better then a hoodie for myself is a hoodie for my son. (That would be his hand in the picture, by the way, on its way to reign Toddler Doom upon the poor thing!)

And a quick close-up of the hood. I think there is something so sweet about toddlers in hoodies.
The next project was supposed to be a sweater for Hubby, but I realized too late that I lacked both the dpns for the project and needles to get the sweater to scale. So I am now waiting on my second shipment from KnitPicks. In the meantime, I decided to keep myself busy making my Foliage (http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall07/PATTfoliage.html), since I already had the Malabrigo to make it. (Another birthday gift when I went shopping with my MIL; just so happy I could finally use it! For awhile, I was worried I wouldn’t find a project fitting for it and I’d have to pet it and keep it in my yarn tub.) Started on the Fourth and finished today. Very quick but lovely knit. Can’t see the leaf motif so well because of the colorway, but it’s still lovely and I’m so happy with it. Wisconsin, you better be cold so I can wear my hats!
The only real change I made to the pattern was to start it on 2 circular needles instead of dpns. I didn’t have the right size and trying to use such a soft wool on nickel-plated needles was a disaster.
Playing with some acrylic while the wait for my needles continues. Ah, the joys of being without an LYS.

WIP: Toddler Tunic

Finally started the sweater for my son, and so far, it’s going pretty well. [Minus one error yours truly does not feel like frogging back for since it’s minor. No one will notice if I don’t point it out anyway.]
Working with the lovely hand-painted merino wool (from http://dreamincoloryarn.com/) my MIL bought me for my birthday. I have to say, I’m so fond of it, I might have to buy some more for a project for myself down the line. The colorway is gorgeous, the wool is soft and it’s been pretty easy to work with. Looking at the website for the first time tonight, there were several colors I fell in love with. And price wise, it’s not terrible.

Front shaping with the sleeves already divided out for. First try on to see if it fits.

After a couple of tries and having to frog, I finally managed to get my gauge correct so I could actually knit this. Suppose one of these days, I should learn to get off my butt and do a swatch–but what fun is that? I had to go up two needle sizes in order to get the correct gauge. Now that I have my needle sizes, I have a couple of pairs of DPNs on their way from http://knitpicks.com/ so that I can finish up the sleeves and the hood when the time comes. I ordered one of them as nickel-plated and one as the laminated wood to see if I have a preference.

Back shaping: very pleased with how nice and even it’s turning out.

For a first sweater, I don’t think I’m doing too bad. This project has given me enough confidence and knowledge that I’m ready to tackle one for my hubby when I’m done. Very very pleased with this.

Project 4: knitting needle roll

Not an actual knit project, but for knitting purposes none-the-less. SnB contained this pattern which I modified to include a second set of pockets for my DPNs–when I finally get around to purchasing some, that is. I don’t own much in the way of knitting needles just yet, so my case is rather empty. But I’m sure that will change as time goes by!

Overall, this project took about five to six hours, considerably less them then I thought it would. Though I’ll admit, I thought I was going to lose my mind drawing all those seperate lines and then having to stitch them all. I was nervous starting this since I haven’t actually sewn in some time, but I think it turned out well! I do prefer knitting to sewing at this point in time, however.

A view of the inside as well. Roll was made entirely of fabrics from my pre-existing quilting stash–just glad they could be used finally and not sit in that tote any longer! I’ve had a hard time trying to use my L.B. prints, nothing ever seems special enough for them. Until now, that is. Considering I didn’t have to buy any outside materials to make this, I feel it’s very nicely color-coordinated and looks like I intentionally picked fabrics out!

Project 3: head scarf

I have three skeins of sport weight alpaca yarn I picked up at a funky yarn shop in Austin the first time I tried to learn to knit about two years ago. Now, I couldn’t tell you why I picked up the yarn I did or if I had a project in mind for it. My husband says I picked it up purely because I loved the feel and the color: it sounds like something I’d do as I’m a very tactile person and pick my clothing based on how it feels rather then how it looks.
Coming from a quilting background doesn’t help. Usually when you find some fabric you love, you can pick up a little and squeeze it into a project. You can work around it. I’m finding knitting is a bit more precise and project-oriented then that. So note to self: Do not buy yarn that you do not have a project in mind for or a use. It will sit in your closet for two years and gather dust while you feel miserable and guilty that you haven’t used it.

So yesterday I went on a search for a quick project. One that would allow me to use up some of said yarn and wouldn’t require any hardware I don’t already own. Meaning I had to be able to do it with single-point needles in a small smattering of sizes. Rather then get a monster collection of items I may not use, I’ve been picking up needles as I have gone. I finally ended up in my Stitch ‘n’ Bitch book and found the perfect project: kitchy head scarf. Seemed simple enough, didn’t require any skills I don’t already have and even better, no additional hardware I’d need to purchase in order to do it. Seemed like a godsend.

But then, Mommy Brain struck and what should have been a very simple and relaxing project turned into a vexing exercise and lesson in why one does not try to start a new pattern while her toddler is wailing like a banshee. I can do a lot of things when he decides to be like this–knitting is apparently not one of them and now I know better.
So three restarts later and the realization my frazzled brain was adding instructions that
didn’t exist, I finally got what I was looking for: a quick, easy project that I can actually use. I think it turned out quite well and it is one of my favorite colors which is always a bonus. Not counting the times I messed up, this was a two to three hour project. I have plenty of yarn that I could make more if I knew more people that like the same colors I do.
Now it’s time to find the next project. I think I have the perfect one in mind; I should have enough yarn left over from my rolled-brim hat, but I need to buy either circular or double-pointed needles to work on it. Would be a nice change from the projects I’ve been doing and maybe I’ll learn enough to start doing socks. I’d love to make socks and have already found several yarns I need the excuse to buy.
I also have a dishcloth pattern my MIL gave me that will teach me how to do yarn-overs, but I need to find a decent yarn to do that with. I’m thinking maybe a good sturdy cotton should do.

First two knitting projects…

Recently, I have found a new hobby to keep me busy. I am learning how to knit, thus the title of this blog. I will keep track of all my projects here rather then my personal journal.
For my first project, I made a scarf. Nothing overly-original there. Used a soft heathered wool yarn, worsted weight, and size 8 needles, I believe. I found out, I knit a little loose and need to go down a needle size to stay in gauge. This project didn’t take too long, roughly an hour a day for about a week.
Learned the project, while useful for learning to knit, was impractical. The scarf it yields is just too short to have an real use. I should have cut it short and made a dishrag instead, perhaps.

Project #2 was a rolled-brim hat. Once again, nothing too exciting but I did learn about increasing and decreasing while doing it. I used this beautiful handpainted superwash wool and size 7 needles. I still have half the skein of yarn left and am wondering what I can do with this beautiful fiber so it doesn’t go to waste!

I’m very excited for the trip back to Wisconsin this winter so I’ll have an opportunity to use this hat which is gorgeous in person. The air rarely gets chilly enough in Texas during the day to show it off.
I am now looking for my next project and can’t wait to get started on it.
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