September 14, 2010
I’ve moved to a new home! Please come visit me at knitapeach.blogspot.com. I promise it will be stuff you’ll want to read.
July 20, 2010
Pattern: Donegal Cap
Yarn: Hemp for Knitting Hempton
Started: July 12, 2010
Finished: July 18, 2010
Notes: A quick and satisfying summer knit. Zach really liked the original driving cap I knit for him, but had one complaint: the brims were a little too wide, and protruded a little too far from his head. I agreed. He imposed a new mission: find a hat pattern that would fit him better.
I’m really puzzled as to why this pattern isn’t more popular. Despite a somewhat intimidating construction method and some pretty awesome short row shaping, it’s really not that difficult once you get a handle on it. I want to know, as a blossoming designer (can I call myself that yet?) how Cheryl Andrews of Wooly Bear Hand Knits got her head around all that shaping and structure. The end result is pure genius.
Hempton by Hemp for Knitting is surprisingly forgiving on your hands, for being, well, hemp. It had a hand similar to cotton, but was stiffer and didn’t stretch much. The rigidity of the yarn makes a perfect fabric for this hat: it doesn’t sag or lose its structure, and you don’t even need a plastic template for the brim. Amazing!
This hat is an early birthday present for Zach. I think it really suits him!
July 17, 2010
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh sock
Started: March 7, 2010
Finished: July 11, 2010
Notes: What a lovely, thoroughly enjoyable pattern. Haruni has a very simple lace pattern up until the border, where there’s rapid increases for several rows, followed by rapid decreases to create large leaves and blossoms. The crocheted edging was a first for me, but well worth the extra time it took to complete. The end result is a very elegant and wearable shawl that I just love love love.
Tosh sock is amazing to knit with: really springy, yet also incredibly soft. And the color! The variegation is subtle and perfect for this intricate pattern.
Believe it or not, it took me about two years before I tried wet blocking my knitting. But as someone who loves knitting lace, I’ve obviously realized that blocking is essential to the process, and often takes your knitted piece from “just okay” to pretty gosh-darn spectacular.
The steps to blocking are pretty simple. And look, there are pictures!
1) First, knit your lace piece. As you can see, it’s pretty small and garbled; not shawl-like at all! Wet blocking stretches the lace so the yarn overs are exposed and the pattern is clearly seen, which also brings out the drape in your yarn.
2) Now comes the “wet” part of wet blocking. Prepare a bath for your knitting with tepid, lukewarm water and a soap specifically for yarn. I like Eucalan because it’s a no-rinse formula, but Soak is also good, and there are many others. Swish your hand through the water a little bit to get some bubbles going. Place your knitting into the water.
3) It’s important to completely submerge your knitting in the solution. At the same time, be mindful of the fiber content of your yarn. This shawl was knit with merino wool, so I must be careful not to agitate the water too much, or wring the piece–this will induce felting! Gently squeezing the knitting will release the air bubbles and let in the water; just don’t overdo it. Let your shawl sit in the water for 15-20 minutes.
4) When 15-20 minutes has elapsed, remove the knitting. Again, be gentle when draining the water from the piece. Don’t don’t don’t wring it! Gently squeeze out the majority of the water, then lay it on a towel. (Some dyed yarns will “bleed,” so you may want to use an old towel.) Spread the piece out slightly so it doesn’t sit in one lump, then begin rolling the towel into a snug roll.
5) Once the towel is rolled up, apply lots of pressure to squeeze more of the water from the piece. I sometimes sit on the towel!
6) For good measure, repeat steps 4 and 5. Your shawl won’t be bone-dry from all that squeezing, but it shouldn’t be dripping with moisture, either.
7) Now comes the fun part. Select a surface to block your knitting on. This could be as simple as a towel, but I suggest using something that’s non-porous, such as a rubber mat. You’ll be sticking pins into this surface, so make sure it’s not something that you don’t want lots of little holes in! My blocking surface was purchased at Walmart in the athletic section: it’s several interlocking rubber mats that are usually used as padding beneath treadmills and workout equipment. However, lots of people also use interlocking play mats found in toy stores.
Step 8: Spread out your knitted piece on the blocking surface. I always begin pinning in the center of the piece and work outward. Since my shawl is triangular, I’m starting at the point where I cast on.
Note: Make sure to use non-rusting (nickel-plated works!) quilting or straight pins, unless you want rust all over your nice knitted shawl.
Step 9: For a triangular shawl, I use blocking wires to evenly angle the left and right sides of the shawl. Thread the wires through each of the natural “points” in the shawl that were created from the knitting. Thread both wires through the bottom point. The wires should cross at a 90-degree angle.
Step 10: My shawl had a crocheted bind-off, so it has a lot of extra points. I don’t have a very scientific method for pinning these smaller, less protruding points. I tend to just eye it until it looks right to me.
Step 11: Once you’re satisfied with how your shawl looks, sit back and let it dry! It takes a good 12-24 hours (sometimes longer!) for a shawl to completely dry, and you don’t want to unpin before then.
Step 12: Once the shawl is completely dry, unpin it. You should be rewarded with a beautiful piece that you’ll be proud to wear!
June 30, 2010
And a new post is coming soon. I promises.
Also, I got to see dolphins.
June 14, 2010
The National Needleworks Association: a day in pictures.
TNNA is a test on my will power. I have to refrain from running from the building, arms filled with pilfered skeins, screaming “I couldn’t help myself! It was just so soft and beautiful!”
June 11, 2010
I think some people I know get puzzled when I say “I need to knit.”
I mean, there’s a definite difference between what we need to do, and what we want to do. I want to go bike riding every day, but I don’t need to. I need to breathe oxygen; it’s really not a matter of want (although I want to, too!) With so many daily demands on our lives, we’re often forced to make those distinctions, and draw harsh lines. What we once felt we absolutely needed (an hour alone in the tub, that new skein of yarn) may not be so necessary. It might be because things are tight financially (I, for one, am feeling the pinch) or because we don’t have as much time as we used to.
But back to knitting, and my supposed need for it. Knitting doesn’t pay my bills (although I wish it did) or keep me warm at night (Z does that). So why do I need it?
I’m sorry to say that last week was a rough one for me and Z. Hector was very ill on Sunday night and had to be rushed to the emergency vet, where he learned he had most likely been exposed to a bug poison or other toxin, as he was bleeding profusely from his mouth or nose. However, we weren’t able to get conclusive evidence that this was the cause, so we’re still a bit on edge about it. Two vet visits, two Vitamin K shots and $600 later, and he’s just fine. Poor guy.
This, coupled with a Check Engine light coming on in my car this morning and a vacation to go on next week, and I’m a bit frazzed. What to do with these super-stressed out nerves?
Why, knit, of course.
I found myself today wishing that I were home, a friendly, familiar bamboo needle in each hand, with a cake of laceweight yarn sitting in my lap and a shawl slowly growing from it. I craved that rhythm, that simple heartbeat of loops and tucks, that combination of tension and control and mistakes and craziness and warmth and joy that makes knitting so very special, relatable, human. It made me realize that, no matter how busy, hectic or money-deprived my life becomes, I will always make room in my life for knitting. It’s what keeps me sane in all this craziness. It’s a need, not just a want.
June 3, 2010
I apologize in advance for the long bout of radio silence. Alas, I cannot guarantee it won’t happen again, but I will try to be more diligent.
We have been busy! I moved into a new place in Ft. Mitchell, with Z and my little brother, who is 18 and graduating from high school on Friday. It hasn’t come without its own set of unique challenges. Evan tends to ball up his dirty socks and leave them inside-out in the hamper; he leaves gunked-up bowls in the sink. His diet consists chiefly of ramen and beefaroni. In short . . . he’s an 18-year-old boy.
But overall, this experiment in in-house birth control is going pretty well. We’ve had a smattering of arguments, but nothing to throw anyone out over.
What else has happened? . . .
- I knit this:
Pattern: Owl Baby Vest
Yarn: Encore Worsted
Started: May 7, 2010
Finished: May 13, 2010
Notes: I knit this up in less than a week for a coworker who is now on maternity leave, expecting her first child. Technically, it’s the first baby item I’ve ever made; I guess this means I don’t know many babies. The Encore Worsted was okay, but it’s also 50% acrylic, and I have a vendetta against synthetics. I’m sure it will stand up well to baby drool though.
I chose green because the sex of the baby is a surprise.
- I spun this:
This was Jacob wool, handspun woolen on my Kiwi (loooove that wheel), for my dear friend Lynne. She and I went to a wool festival in Lexington in early May, and I convinced her to buy some roving for me to spin up for her. It’s surprisingly soft and very lofty (that long draw method, you know) and still has that earthy, yummy lanolin smell. I was sorry to see it go, but I know it will be cherished.
- I took the plunge:
After much deliberation, I finally gathered the courage to submit a quasi-proposal for a knitting book to Jenni. That’s right: a real, live knitting book, with patterns that I design myself. I pitched it to her, and got positive response. I can’t say much more right now, but come the end of July, I might have some really awesome news.
Until then, though, I’m going to chill on the couch, drink my diet cherry 7-up, and watch reruns of Futurama. Cheerios!
April 20, 2010
I applied for a scholarship to attend SOAR this year and they just pushed back their response day to Friday. Urggggg. I hate waiting.
In other news I went to Crafty Supermarket this past weekend. So, while I wait on news from Interweave, you can wait on a blog post about that.
It’s only fair, I think.
April 13, 2010
I’ve been on a laceweight kick of late. There are a lot of little bits of projects floating about my apartment, and none of them are anywhere close to being finished.
But I’m most excited about this:
Holy geez, I’m spinning laceweight.