Process vs. Product

Several times over the last few weeks I’ve had the conversation about whether I am a process knitter or a product knitter.  The conversation is fascinating to me because I cannot imagine knitting any other way than the way I knit.  I simply cannot put myself in the mindset of the other knitter, as much as I might try.

For simplicity’s sake, I will define process knitter as someone who enjoys the knitting of the item, regardless of whether they finish the item or not.  The process knitter often likes new and unique construction (although not always), this person may never finish, weave in ends, or wear the item in question.  The product knitter is someone who wants an end result.  The thing that drives this knitter is having the completed item at the end.  They would never think of finishing a scarf only to stop before the ends were woven in.  Or, heaven forbid, not blocking a shawl that was finished with the ends woven in.

True Confession time folks:  I am a process knitter.  I cannot tell you how many finished but not blocked or woven in ends may or may not be lying around my house.  I have sweaters that are 2/3 finished in a knitting bag.  I have no desire to rip it out and start something else – I am simply done with that project.  Emotionally done.  I might be bored, or a new more shiny project inserted itself in my life.  I’m just done.  If I start a new project, my husband will say, “who’s that for?” He knows that often by the time I am done knitting something, I don’t really need the finished project anymore.  I’m happy to give it away.  I also find that often I knit things in colors that I do not really wear.  I knit it because its pretty, not because it’s going to fit in my wardrobe.  Don’t get me wrong, I do wear my own knitting, but sometimes I struggle with finding something to wear it with.  That’s also why sometimes I don’t show finished knitting on the blog… because I’m just done with it and don’t want to take pictures of the finished item.  I know, it’s odd.

Tell me about your knitting.

What I’m Knitting

I’m still slowly plugging away on the Clayoquot cardigan that was my Ravellenics project.  I have the 2 sleeves done and am up to the pockets on the body.  This is a struggle for me because it hurts my hands to knit.  I switched out needles and that definitely helps, but my hands still get tired easily when knitting it.  

I just finished weaving in the ends and sewing on buttons for the pink Snug cardigan.  I absolutely adore this pattern.  I like it so much I’m doing an itty bitty size.  I’m also going to knit a larger one as a class sample to teach this summer.  Oh, and those buttons you see above?  I’ve had those for years… they were just waiting for the right home.  I had imagined I was going to use them on a sweater for Lily at one point, but they never really fit.  I think they’re perfect for a little baby sweater.

Oh yes, and I finished a simple brioche cowl that you may or may not see pictures of.  I actually wore it yesterday but didn’t feel like a selfie was going to yield a result that didn’t make me look worn down and tired.  I will try to get someone to take a picture when I look more awake and less like I need 3 more cups of coffee to get through the day!

What I’m Not Knitting

Oh so many things have fallen to the wayside as I worked almost exclusively on the Clayoquot the last few weeks.  I’ve done a couple of baby hats here and there, but mostly they fall into the What I’m Not Knitting category.

Whatever your knitting style, I hope your week is filled with great knitting.  And remember, “Knit fast, it’s cold up here!”

 

Close Call

My Ravellenics project was going along as easily as a curler’s stone on ice right up until last week.  Apparently spending a long time on the phone at work with my head cocked at an angle holding my phone while clicking through hundreds of photos was a bad idea.  I got off the phone and had very little strength in my right hand with a lot of pain.  I stretched.  I gave myself a little shoulder rub.  I stretched some more.  It helped, but only a little.

It was a strong reminder of how important proper posture and ergonomics are.  In thinking back to a class I took with Carson Demers in August, I knew I needed to think through what I should change about my knitting habits and techniques.

  1.  Be seated properly.  Feet on the floor with legs at a 90 degree angle.  This is next to impossible in our living room with the current configuration, but relatively speaking I don’t spend all that much time there.  It is very possible to do at the desk I spend so much time at.  I have to remind myself to sit up straight!
  2. Stretch.  This list of hand exercises for knitters is golden.
  3. Take breaks often.  This not only means get up and walk around, but it also means drink a glass of water.  It’s easy to forget that water is the natural lubricant in our bodies.
  4. Change it up.  I know it is not good for my body to work exclusively on one project at a time.  It’s always better if I have one or two projects that I can alternate with.  Generally this is one fingering weight project and one project with worsted or heavier weight, or one with a significantly looser gauge.  This alternating of projects gives my hands a break.
  5. Use good tools.  I’m a big believer in using good tools when it comes to knitting.  I use good needles and am picky when it comes to the quality of the yarn I use.  In this case, I was using both good needles and good yarn and they were suited for each other.  But you see, the mouse I was clicking with was not such high quality.  I also wasn’t using the soft gel pad that I often put under my wrist to remind myself to lift up my hand as I’m click clicking away at photos.

Obviously, every knitter is different and your mileage may vary.  However, I find reminding myself of these things is very helpful.  And if you ever have the opportunity to take a Carson Demers class, I highly recommend it.  He’s smart and funny and knows his stuff.

My Ravellenics project may not get done as quickly as I would like, but I continue to make progress on it.  The sleeves are finished and I’m working on the ribbing on the bottom of the sweater.  I’m debating if the inside of my pockets should be a contrasting color, so I’m holding off on those for a bit.  To change things up I’m also doing a baby hat here and there in worsted weight.  See?  I’m actually taking my own advice!

 

 

Optimistically Speaking

Every year my Optimist Club does a hat knitting challenge.  It started many years ago when I had a hair-brained scheme  to get the (mostly) older men in my Optimist Club to do a project for the local hospitals.  I thought I could teach them to knit and they could knit a few hats here and there for the local Birth Centers.  Little did I know that they would discover knitting looms and that this annual challenge would go on for YEARS.  I don’t know how many years it’s been… probably around 10-11 years if I had to guess.

We set ourselves up into 2 teams.  Sometimes we pick up knitters from across the country who help us knit hats.  Everyone in the local club uses the looms with bulky yarn.  They think it’s hysterical that they can knit a hat on a loom faster than I can knit on 2 needles.  Everyone considers me a “ringer” to have on their team, even though I do not knit anywhere near the highest number of hats.  Oh, and the winning team?  They generally get chocolate.  And bragging rights.  It’s a pretty good deal.

This year the contest is running from February 6 – March 20, so there is plenty of time to get in on the knitting action if you’d like to play along.  If you’re a local knitter, stop on by the Incline Station in Duluth on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month.  If you’re non-local and want to play, just leave me a message and we can figure out how to get the hats where they need to go.  Or knit for your local hospital, that’s cool too!

Hats can be any size to fit micro-preemie through newborn.  Hats that are slightly larger than newborn tend to be given to the big sisters and big brothers of the new arrivals.  The local hospitals definitely appreciate these hats!

So far I’ve finished 3 hats during the contest.  that’s the short stack of hats in the photo above.  I kind of like having a stack of knitted hats sitting on my end table just waiting to have more hats added to it.  I have one or two more that I should be able to finish this evening…. but then the hat knitting will slow down considerably.  See, I’ve got Olympic-sized knitting to do.  I’m planning on knitting a Clayoquot Cardigan from Tin Can Knits during the Olympic Games.  If you haven’t joined a team for the Ravellenics yet, you totally should.  You’re only competing against yourself and it’s kind of fun to see just how far you can get.  So come on, jump into the deep end of the pool snowdrift with us!

There’s a Season for That

Have you ever noticed how people tend to get married or have babies in waves?

We’re in the middle of one of those waves.  Several of our friends and family members are having babies right now.  Between December and June there are 4 babies.  There’s not much I like more than knitting for little people!  The projects are fast and fun.
And I firmly believe that babies should be wrapped in wool to keep them cozy.  I tend to use superwash wool because I believe in keeping it easy for the parents.  I’m not a fan of acrylic for babies partly because I think acrylic sweaters make me feel clammy instead of warm and because I don’t like knitting with most acrylic.  Every knitter is different – this is just how I roll.

I’ve been combing through Ravelry finding new patterns to knit.

 

This sweater is the Garter Stitch Baby Kimono by Joji Locatelli.  (By the way, you pronounce her name the Spanish way, as though the J’s were H’s.  “HoHee”)  This was a really fun knit and the pattern was free.  It takes less than 1 skein of sock yarn to make.   I used a skein of Knitted Wit Victory Sock, which is lovely to knit with. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite sock yarns.  You are supposed to finish the neckline with an I-cord edging, but I thought the pico type edging was pretty cute for a girl.  I did not check my gauge on this one (I know!  Bad knitter!  But I often don’t on baby knits) so it is a little wider than it maybe needed to be.  However, I kind of like a little extra wiggle room in the belly on baby knits.

The hat was made almost entirely of the leftovers from the sweater.  I did throw in a couple of rows of sparkly white that I had in a mini skein.  Partly because I thought this little girl needed a little sparkle and partly because I was nervous about running out of yarn at the very top.  I ended up ripping this hat out once and redoing it with a smaller needle size.  I think it’s already on the large size for a 1 month old, but that’s ok, she’ll grow!  The hat pattern is the Sweet Norwegian Cap and I’ve made many of them.  The hat and sweater went to a friend who had their baby in December.

Speaking of growing, the hat at the very top of the post is one I’m doing for my brand spanking new nephew!  He surprised us all by coming at 33 weeks.  At 3 lbs 7 oz, he is one tiny guy.  Both momma and baby are doing well.  This hat is made from some leftover Quince & Co. dk yarn from my Clayoquot cardigan and is one I just made up as I went.  I started the hat this fall and then set it aside because I didn’t think I was knitting for boys and I certainly didn’t think I’d be knitting for a preemie.  See, the babies in our family tend to be girls and they generally tend to come on the large size (my girls were 9 lbs and 8 lbs respectively).  Just in case you’re wondering, I don’t gamble because I’m really lousy at playing the odds!  And I hate loosing.  The boy hat got put aside until a later time.  Probably a good thing because when I heard my nephew was born, it was right there beside my knitting spot, ready to finish.  The finished hat should fit an orange, which I’m hoping is about the right size.  If it does not fit, my sister can definitely donate it to the hospital for another baby to use.

 

On Your Mark, Get Set, Knit!

Is it Friday yet?  It feels like a Friday.  January kind of hit me in one fell swoop this week – and here we are more than half-way through the month.  Oiy!

Here’s What’s on My Mind…

February is going to be a great month for knitting.  First of all, there’s the Super Bowl.  Which since I probably don’t care a wit about who’s going to be in it (my poor Packers had a tough year this year) I’m watching for the commercials! Then, there’s the winter Olympics.  If you’re at all familiar with Ravelry, you might also be familiar with Ravellenics.  The idea of Ravellenics is to challenge yourself to knit something during the 2018 Winter Olympics.

My friend Knittymuggins and I were talking about the Clayoquot cardigan and steeking one day.  We fell upon the idea of doing a KAL with the Clayoquot cardigan, with the possibility of a skype phone call to do the steeking portion.  (Sadly, we live waaaay too far apart to do a in person steek together.)  Since the Ravellenics are right around the corner, we decided to do the cardigan as our very own Knitting during the Olympics KAL.  I encourage you to sign up for a Ravellenics team.  There are a lot of different teams out there.  I signed up for the YH Ladies one.  I tend to be a bit of a lurker when it comes to these big online group events, which is why doing a KAL with my knitting bestie is much more my style.

I’ve chosen this, The Fiber Co. Arranmore Light, as my yarn for the project.  I need to do a gauge swatch beforehand because time will be of the essence during the actual Olympics.  Wish me luck on that one!  Actually, wish me a lot of luck as my plan is to complete an adult size cardigan for me.

What I’m Knitting

I’m pretty much still knitting on everything I said I was knitting last week.  I did finish a Cindersmoke mitten (my 2nd one) but I need to knit a 3rd so that I have one class sample and one pair of mittens for me.  Yes, it’s crazy, but it makes sense in my head.

Loose Ends

Thanks to everyone who has commented on the blog in the last week.  It’s so nice (and slightly terrifying!) to know that people are out there reading this.

Hello 2018

I did a little experiment this fall.  I wrote down in my planner every project I was working on or planned to work on.  I wrote the start date, end date, if the ends were woven in, and if I photographed it.

I have finished 17 projects since September!  That’s not bad.  Not bad at all considering I feel like I have very little knitting time.  Rarely do I look back at my projects in quite this way.  Until I stopped to count the projects, I had no idea how many I had finished in the last four very busy months.

So often we focus on what hasn’t been done.  When I see this page, I struggle to see the completed lines; instead I see the holes.  But when you break it down into it’s component parts, it feels like accomplishment.

What I’m Knitting

Currently I’m working on a pair of Smooth Operator Socks out of Desert Vista Dyeworks Lords a Leaping colorway.  (that’s the featured image up above).  I’ll warn you that DVD’s website is very tempting…. it’s tough to not purchase a lot of really fun self-striping yarn when I visit the site.  This sock is my take along knitting.   It sits in my bag and I work on it at lunches, at the movies, and whenever I need knitting that I don’t have to look at while knitting.

The Cindersmoke mittens I am knitting for class are almost done.  I’ve set the second mitten aside so that I can work through the top of the mitten and the thumb with the class. 

I‘m also knitting a Snug baby jacket out of Claudia Hand Painted worsted.  I’m considering teaching this as a class.  It’s a simple enough design but it has some interesting construction that makes it great for beginning knitters or those who have more experience and want to try a new technique or two.

 

What I’m Not Knitting

I am not knitting the Find Your Fade in turquoise that you see in the Best Nine photo above.  I really need to rip it back, but ripping out mohair is not a fun experience.  Currently it is sitting in a bag in the drawers next to our sofa – I’m hoping that by putting it in timeout it will have time to think about what it has done and how it really wants to behave.

I also have a BLT shawl that I was working on for a class I taught that has been set aside.  I really like this pattern and the yarn is to die for, but I had more pressing knitting that needed to be finished on a timeline.

 

Loose Ends

Speaking of classes, I’m taking the yarn classes to the pub this month.  I’ll be teaching the Grain Shawl from Tin Can Knits at Hoops Brewery in Canal Park on January 23 and 30 at 6pm.  I’d love it if you could join us.  You do need to go to Yarn Harbor to sign up for the class.  I hope to see you there!

 

A Sweater Place

It struck me the other day when someone asked me what I liked most to knit, that I was in a sweater place.  Most of what has been on my needles the last few months has been sweaters.

There’s been this little guy.  It’s the Zip Up Cardigan by Hannah Fetig.   I have to admit, I was a little intimidated by the zipper.  I almost outsourced this to a tailor shop, but I was determined to try to sew the zipper in myself.  I signed up for a class at Stitches Midwest on putting in zippers.  It was much easier than I had expected.  The only hitch came when the sweet lady next to me at class informed me that I had purchased a non-separating zipper!  Darn!  I ended up having to purchase a new zipper from Zipperstop.com Once that arrived I was able to pull out my class directions and “zip” right through it.  I would definitely make this pattern (with the zipper) again.

 

Then, I made these two sweaters.  They are the Anthropology Inspired Capelet made with Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande.  I made these for the girls to wear at my little sister’s wedding at the end of October.  Not to be content with following the pattern as written, I lengthened the arms and made each sweater longer than the original.  I really wanted these sweaters to be cozy on a cold fall day and I wanted them to have a bit longer of a life than just the one day.

I remember a day when I thought making a child size sweater was so neat because I, “couldn’t possibly knit something as big and involved as an adult size sweater!”  Child size sweaters just went so fast.  Now that my girls are in adult sizes (mostly), their sweaters still seem to move pretty quickly off the needles.  Plus, I can steal their sweaters and hand knit socks!  It’s a beautiful thing and I think I might have to savor it while it lasts, because I’m pretty sure my girls are going to take after their Daddy in height.

 

Last but not least is this little cutie.  It’s the Clayoquot Cardigan by Tin Can Knits.  This is knit in the round and steeked.  While I’ve steeked before, this was my first time using a crochet reinforcement.  I will definitely be doing this again as I really liked the way it worked to hold everything in place and I liked the way the crocheted line made a nice edging on the inside of the cardigan.  I also think that all of the Tin Can Knits patterns are well written.  I always learn something new from them and very often they make me stretch my knitting skills.

So, basically, I’m in a sweater place.  I’ve got several more started or in the line up.  After all, how many scarves do I really need?