When you want some instant gratification, crochet is definitely the way to go. It’s so much faster than knitting! I decided that a crocheted cotton washcloth would be the perfect project for my weekend, and after some searching of the Ravelry library I decided on the free Big Girl Dishcloth/Washcloth pattern, upsizing it by 150% because big washcloths just seem so much more luxurious.
My own beginnerness at crochet caused me to run into some trouble getting started, but after six or seven beginnings and watching a few tutorials on YouTube I was able to get past the first row. I probably tore out half as many rows as I crocheted; I kept missing stitches or ending up with too many stitches at the end of a row, but by the end I was cranking away at it. Not counting the several attempts at starting, it took me one evening and a solid day to make the washcloth. The next one will go faster; I’ve learned a lot about crocheting from doing this one, and if I don’t lose time working rows and tearing them out again… yeah.
I used about three-quarters of a ball of white Sugar ‘n Cream, and the finished cloth came out to be around 10.5″ x 11″. It will almost certainly stretch out to an even larger size as I use it. If I hadn’t made a bigger washcloth than the pattern specifies, I probably could have gotten two smaller ones out of one ball of yarn. As it is, I will use the remainder of the white for edging on other projects.
Things I’ve learned: The chain and the first row need to be worked a lot looser than I would have thought; that edge pulls a little tight. I’m not sure if I like the little loop from which to hang the washcloth, so I’ll see if I end up using it and then decide whether to include it in the next one. Maybe a fancier border would have been fun to try. And, I learned that washcloths aren’t too difficult at all… perhaps I’ll design one of my own! Combine a few different stitches to make a nice design and texture, add a nifty border, test it out a few times, and voila – a new pattern to offer. That makes it sound really easy…
I tested out the new washcloth on my face, and I am so thoroughly impressed that I’ve already begun a second one.
In other news, this is the blog’s five hundredth post! Wow, huh?
It may be impossible for a cat to enjoy being scritched more than Kipling does. He would be happy if I spent all my time scrubbing his ribs with my fingertips like he was a washboard, with brief intermissions for bellyrubs and ear-scratches.
I think I’m going to be taking a summer break from blogging here. I’ve got a camping-trip vacation coming up, followed by travel for work, and a bunch of other distracting stuff going on.
Pirate-Husband and I are embarking on a big home renovation project. Log homes require much more maintenance than I’d realized. We need to wash, strip, bug-proof, repair, stain and seal the entire house. A contractor gave us a quote that was way too high, so we’re going to be doing it ourselves. To be fair, Pirate-Husband is going to be doing most of it. Just not today; the heat index is up around 127F/53C and it’s a day for staying inside.
Once that is done, we hope to be putting new windows into the house before winter sets in. That one, we’re not doing ourselves. We’ve gotten quotes from a number of window companies and picked the best one. It’s still going to be some major work!
On the knitting front, I’m almost done with the first of the stockinette socks I’ve been carrying around, and I got started on the second front half of the pink sweater. I’ll probably end up making my own buttons for the sweaters, either from shrinky-dink or out of polymer clay. Store-bought buttons are so expensive!
I’ve managed to spin a little bit for the Tour de Fleece, but not nearly enough as I’d hoped. Ah well, the wheel is oiled and ready to go, even if I only have a few free minutes. I have it next to my computer so that I can turn 90 degrees and spin a few yards at any moment.
And that’s the State of the Pirate. I didn’t want to just drop everything and leave with no explanation, but I can safely say: I’ll be back!
Day Five: 1st April. And now for something completely different. This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create.
There are no rules of a topic to blog about (though some suggestions are given below) but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog. This can take one of many forms…
ODE TO A SOCK
O sock, O most-loved knit garment
What joy there is in your embrace!
Such happiness I take in knowing
That while I run the daily race
My toes will stay dry and warm-
into the shoes you now must go,
Hide your delicate stitches from sight.
While the winter wind’s still blowing
My feet need not fear frostbite,
My mood will never be low.
People laugh, and people tease,
For socks may still be bought with ease.
But store-bought socks cannot be said
To bring pleasure like the socks I made.
(Okay, so I stretched the rhyme a little from the first verse to the second, but it still sort of works. Mostly. And as for that winter wind, even though it’s technically Spring, it’s freaking cold outside! I am indeed wearing handknit socks today.)
Are you ready? Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is coming! Run by the inimitable Eskimimi, Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is a “week of blogging for knitters and crocheters, where individual bloggers could all simultaneously post about the same topics over the course of seven days, so that for one week readers might be able to read from blog to blog and enjoy a community of bloggers all talking about elements of their craft in their own unique way.”
I’m really excited for this. Not only is it great to have a week’s worth of blog prompts, but it’s so much fun to read everyone else’s take on the same subjects at the same time. I can’t wait to see what the topics are! Last year, they were released a little in advance to give us time to consider and maybe even write some posts ahead of time.
There’s one love that we all share: yarn. Blog about a particular yarn you have used in the past or own in your stash, or perhaps one that you covet from afar. If it is a yarn you have used you could show the project that you used it for, perhaps writing a mini ‘review’. Perhaps, instead, you pine for the feel of the almost mythical qiviut? You could explore and research the raw material and manufacturing process if you were feeling investigative.
I’m a sucker for sock yarn.
There, I said it. You heard me. I can’t resist the stuff. It’s the first and last thing I look at in a yarn store, and of all the yarns there, sock yarn is the most likely to come home with me. Why? Why NOT! It’s not too expensive, and unlike yarn for a larger project like a sweater or a blanket or a bag, I don’t need to have a pattern in mind when I buy it. I just need to get 100g and I know that I’ll have enough to make a pair of socks. (Unless they’re for Pirate-Husband; then I need 150g. He has wide feet.) Sock yarn is the best souvenir from visiting yarn stores in faraway places, too.
My latest favourite sock yarn has been Cascade Heritage. This is one of their “Paints” colourways, but it is available in solids as well. The feel of this yarn was a pleasant surprise. It’s soft and smooth, I had no trouble with it being splitty, and it knit up into a wonderfully squooshy sock with only minimal pooling. The only socks I’ve knit from this yarn as yet were given away as a gift, so I’m not sure how well it washes and wears yet. Reviews that I’ve read say “very well” and that it can even go through the dryer without anything terrible happening to it – no felting, no pilling, no nothing but getting softer.
I have another skein for myself, in this reds and blues colourway, but I’m not yet sure what pattern I’m going to use when I knit it up. Something simple? Something a little more complex? Not only that, but I’ve got my eye on yet another skein in medium blues to knit a pair of socks for Mom, who surprised me with a request for handknit socks. Those will probably be top down and 3×1 ribbing, for the best fit possible. Maybe I’ll knit the pair for myself that way, as well.
I have enough sock yarn in my stash for 20 pairs.. and at approximately three months for me to knit a pair (I’m slow!), that’s about five years’ worth of sock knitting. Is that going to stop me from buying or spinning more? No way! Like I said… I’m a sucker for sock yarn.
Bring the fortune and life of a past finished project up to the present. Document the current state and use of an object you have knitted or crocheted, whether it is the hat your sister wears to school almost every day, or a pair of socks you wore until they were full of holes. Or maybe that jumper that your did just didn’t like that much…
I think for this one I’m going to have to go with the Fleep-Top Mittens, my absolute favourite knitted object(s) ever. Every winter, I go to visit my sworn-sister, the Knitting Ninja, in Ottawa for Winterlude, and we go to a stew cook-off. Well, one year it was more cold than usual, and I couldn’t eat my stew with heavy winter gloves on, so I took them off. What a mistake! I didn’t get warm again for hours, and I swore to myself that I’d knit a pair of fingerless gloves with mitten tops before the next Winterlude.
I used Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed, and a combination of the Gnomittens and Cigar patterns (both Ravelry links) to get the sizing right. They were finished in a month, and they were absolutely perfect for Canada in February. My hands stayed warm, even though it snowed into my stew. It’s possible that my hands only stayed warm because I had those little air-activated heatpacks in my pockets… and this led to near-disaster for my Fleeps. On the drive up to Canada, I’d stopped at a restaurant which offered Andes Chocolate Mints in a little bowl by the door. I took two and ate one, and put the other in my pocket for later. Then I forgot about it. Well, when you put chocolate and wool and heatpack together in a pocket, you end up with chocolate in your wool…
Fortunately, with some hot water, Eucalan, and very careful cleansing, the chocolate washed out and the Fleeps didn’t felt at all. And the next year, I went to Canada with no chocolate and no heatpacks, and was happily surprised that the Fleeps kept my hands warm enough even in -5C/23F weather. The Fleeps are so beloved that I bought the yarn to make another pair for myself and a pair for my sworn-brother Michael, who keeps eyeing mine with some envy. I just have to finish them before next year’s Winterlude.
Where do you like to indulge in your craft? Is your favourite arm chair your little knitting cubby area, or do you prefer to ‘knit in public’? Do you like to crochet in the great outdoors, perhaps, or knit in the bath, or at the pub?
Wherever I can!
No, seriously – I do most of my knitting and spinning in front of my laptop, at the table in my little room upstairs. There’s almost always a knitting project within reach, and I’ve put my spinning wheel just to the right of my chair, so I only have to turn a little bit to use it. There’s a Very Bright Light clipped to the underside of the loft-bed that is almost as good as the sun as far as providing light for working, though it doesn’t give the greatest light for taking pictures.
Knitting while watching television doesn’t work too well for me, because I find it difficult to pay attention to both at the same time. But I can easily knit while I’m holding a conversation… unless it’s the Stitch ‘n Bitch, and then I do much more talking than knitting! (Either that, or I knit and make mistakes. I can’t bring anything more complicated than a stockinette sock to the meetups. It’s sad, but even ribbing doesn’t go well while I’m trying to talk to a dozen people at once.)
I do love to knit in public. Waiting at the gate for an airplane, on a train, at the pub, or wherever I find myself with a little bit of free time. The reactions I get from random people who notice what I’m doing are just great. Most of them have been quite pleasant, though every so often I get a person who has no idea why I’d want to play with pointy things and tangly stuff. There was only one time when I felt completely awkward about it. I was at the airport waiting to board, knitting a sock, wondering if anyone would ask me what I was doing… when I noticed that the man sitting next to me had had both his legs off just below the knees. I was glad he didn’t ask, but I’d sort of decided to say that it was an armwarmer – I wasn’t even up to the heel yet – just to keep myself from enthusing about how great handknit socks are.
My absolute favourite knitting-in-public experience has got to be World-Wide Knit In Public Day in 2007. I was in Ottawa with two of my sworn-siblings, and the three of us found seats on the patio at the Highlander Pub. We all drank beer and ate haggis and worked on our socks together in the summer sun, and it was glorious.
Is there a skill related to your hobby that you hope to learn one day? maybe you’re a crocheter who’d also like to knit? Maybe you’d like to learn to knit continental, knit backwards, try cables or attempt stranded colourwork.
Oh, goodness, there are so many things I’d like to learn.
For starters, I’d like to learn to crochet. It seems like a good complimentary skill to go with knitting – I could do crocheted edges, or crochet separate pieces together. And there are also some crochet projects that really appeal to me on their own, like the Prairie Star afghan I mentioned a few posts ago. Crocheted clothing doesn’t appeal to me as much, honestly, but things like amigurumi (cute little crocheted toys) are near-irresistible, though I have no idea what I’d do with them once they were made up. And I’ve been told that crochet is a lot faster than knitting, so it would be perfect for things like dishcloths and swiffer covers. I bought a set of crochet hooks with the gift card that my parents gave me for my birthday last year, but so far I’ve only used them to pick up dropped knit stitches. There’s a copy of The Happy Hooker on my bookshelf; I just need to set aside some time to sit down with it and absorb the information.
I’ve already tried stranded colourwork with the (still unfinished) Napramach bag, but I’d certainly like to get better at it. Which means learning how to knit better in the English style, so that I can hold the different strands of yarn in each hand, instead of having to struggle with all of them in my left hand. I’d like to learn how to better handle the multiple strands, how to manage the dominant colour, and how to keep the tension even. And I’d really like to knit some colourwork gloves, even if I don’t go with the traditional black and white. I have a copy of Selbuvotter and every so often I take it off the shelf and sigh longingly at it. I just picked up a copy of The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques as well. It was delivered yesterday and I’m looking forward to learning from it.
I’d like to improve my spinning skills, too. I would like a better understanding of how to make yarn, the different types of wool and their uses, spinning techniques. I have a drum carder and I’m not afraid to use it. I want to make lovely blended batts and experiment with different styles of yarn. I want to try spinning a cabled yarn, and sturdy but soft singles, and I want to learn to navajo-ply without getting tangled up. I’d love to try dyeing yarns and fibres. Maybe one day I will be able to go to Yarn School and really throw myself into it for a long weekend.
Write about a knitter whose work (whether because of project choice, photography, styling, scale of projects, stash, etc) you enjoy. If they have an enjoyable blog, you might find it a good opportunity to send a smile their way.
I’m not sure this is going to be a surprise to anyone who knows us, but I’m going to say Janis. She’s encouragement and inspiration, and every time we get together I find that I become newly enthused about this hobby that I already love. And she knits SO FAST. Just look at all of this! (Ravelry projects page.)
What I am sure of is this: I may have wanted to knit, but seeing the beautiful projects that came from her needles really motivated me to pick up the skills fast. We learned to spin at the same time, I helped get her a wheel and she helped talk me into buying mine, we challenged each other to handspun socks (because what good is handspun yarn if you never knit it up?), yarn shopping just isn’t the same without her, I can’t go into a yarn shop without thinking “those colours would be perfect for Janis,” and if she’s not blushing now then I don’t know what will do it!
Blog about a pattern or project which you aspire to. Whether it happens to be because the skills needed are ones which you have not yet acquired, or just because it seems like a huge undertaking of time and dedication, most people feel they still have something to aspire to in their craft. If you don’t feel like you have any left of the mountain of learning yet to climb, say so!
For a dedication of skills that I’ve not yet acquired: I would like to knit a sweater for myself. I have dreams of knitting a Bohus sweater and then I have nightmares of it not fitting me well. I have a store-bought cabled cardigan that I wear to work sometimes, because my office is cold, but it is old and pilling and not very warm, so I’d like to knit its replacement. I already have the itchy Irish yarn to knit a sweater for Pirate-Husband. I’d like to knit a more casual sweater for myself, something like the Ribby Cardi. Or Eris (the website is currently down, so this is a link to the pattern page on Ravelry.)
A dedication of time: I would love to knit (or learn to crochet) a blanket. Not just any blanket, though. One that is big enough for a queen-sized bed. One that I could snuggle up under and be ridiculously warm. (Pirate-Husband says I can fold it in half and keep it just on my side of the bed. He’s already ridiculously warm.) I love the Prairie Star afghan, or Lizard Ridge, or the ones that are blocks of cable samples stitched together, or one of the wonderfully geeky Woolly Thoughts afghans. I suppose a project of this size would also be a dedication of money, because if I’m going to be knitting on a project for that long, you can bet that it’s going to be made of wool and not acrylic.
I also have fibre goals: I’ve already made a pair of handspun socks, but what about spinning enough yarn to knit a sweater? Mastering the long-draw, spinning finely and evenly enough to make a cabled sock yarn, blending fibres on the drum carder, learning to dye… growing a dyer’s garden… it just never ends. There’s always more that I want to try.
The idea that I might not “have any left of the mountain of learning yet to climb” makes me laugh. I don’t think I will ever reach the point where there’s nothing left to learn. But that’s okay, I like it that way!