Functional Friday: Bohemian Girl

This e-book I stumbled upon while creeping one of my Ravelry friends. I do this whenever I am looking for something in specific. Usually I have a yarn that needs a pattern and random searches have not pulled up anything really good. I think only one sweater in particular had been put in this person’s library, but I looked through the entire e-book.
Whenever I see a pattern I like in an e-book, I usually spring for the whole thing. There is no point in buying a single pattern now and realizing later that you should have bought the whole book. Even if one pattern in particular is really on my mind, I find that blinds me to good things about the other patterns.

Feathers in the Wind

Bohemian Girl has three sweaters and a cowl included for the price of $15 USD. For these patterns I gladly paid this amount and I am quite happy with the quality. I haven’t knit any of these patterns yet, but I have read through them all. The instructions are very clear and there are written as well as charted directions.
All the patterns in this ebook are natural and evoke a boho-gypsy feel. The pattern that attracted me in the first place is called Feathers in the Wind. It has a lace panel in the front and is fairly reminiscent of the Julissa, except it is a cardigan. I am planning on knitting this in a cranberry colour closer to thanksgiving when I will, hopefully, have more time. I think the lace panel looks like leaves a little more than feathers. The pattern itself is really basic with a garter stitch collar and button band. The lace panel is a series of yarn over-s and knit two together-s. I am very excited to see how it turns out in the red.

Looking Back

The sweater Looking Back is very interesting because it can be worn with the buttons on the front or back. The buttons going up the back adds a classy look to a sweater that can be seriously dressed up or you can turn it around and have the lace panel in the back. I guess that is the cool thing to do now-a-days is have a lace panel somewhere in your cardigans. If this were knit in a neon pink, it would jump from boho-gypsy to just straight up stylish. I am personally a fan of the more natural look, but I would love to see any of these sweaters knit in a very loud colour.

Old Romance

The last sweater is named Old Romance; it is a loose fitting cardigan with lace panels up the sleeves. The lace on the sleeves has been knit in another colour so it stands out from the gray background. This one is just not really my style, but that doesn’t mean I will never knit it. There is an opportunity for everything!

Something in the Air

The cowl is lacy and feminine with a little extra fabric around the edges. I don’t want to call them bobbles, because I feel like a bobble has to be bigger, I also don’t want to call them fringes because a fringe needs to be longer, but there is definitely a fancy little edge on the cowl that makes it very soft and delicate.
Overall I say the ebook was well worth the money and I will be knitting the Feathers in the Wind cardi before thanksgiving. Fingers crossed anyway. I already have my eye on a sweater that I was hoping to get done before the Kitchener/ Waterloo Knitters Fair. We will have to

2 Month Wedding Update

Less than two months to the wedding; it is unreal how close this is getting. On one hand it is starting to feel real, but on the other it still seems so far away. I think I almost had a panic attack the other day when someone said it was only seven weeks away. I mean, it sounds a lot longer when you say 50 days. We are always running around and putting together last minute details with our wedding planner. A lot has happened within the last month.

First of all, my maid of honour and bridesmaids threw me the second bridal shower! It was at Alanna’s mom’s house because they have an absolutely beautiful backyard. It is quite large as well so they were able to fit in a table and chairs without disturbing their garden.

Bridal Shower

When everyone started arriving we all went to the refreshment stand and got drinks, then found a good place to sit and admire the decorations. Once a majority of the people were there, we got to eating. It was a basic backyard BBQ with hamburgers and salads; everyone brought their specialty salad and there were many great foods to choose from. I ate way too much and tried to circle from group to group and say hi to everyone. In the end I think about 12-14 people ended up coming. It was the perfect size group; I think if there were any more than that I would have been overwhelmed.

Bridal Shower Bridesmaids

The games came after lunch and Alanna managed to pick a couple really great ones. There was the usual word scramble and how well do you know the bride; but my favourite one was Him or Her. It was a list of things put together and the guests had to guess which one was me and which one was Paul. For example, there were things on there like, who is the most ticklish, who does the dishes, who takes care of auto maintenance, and who approached whom in the very beginning of the relationship. People really got into that one and started shouting out their answers as we marked them. I would just have to point to myself or shake my head and they knew if it was Paul or myself.

At this point all the wedding party brought out the cookies and cake! They were really good as well. This is also a perfect opportunity to practice getting your picture taken doing inane things like cutting a cake… or laughing.

Precious Moments

Perfect smile always!

Paul showed up with some beautiful flowers at this point and made his own rounds of all the ladies. He also brought my Dad, nephew and father-in-law-to-be. I expect they were coming to partake of the food and waiting to drive the ladies home. As soon as my nephew came into the door he spy-ed the cake. Enough said.

Michelle and Ethan

Once the pandemonium calmed down Paul and I got to open gifts. I was glad Paul was there for this part because I got to open all the gifts from the first shower and he should have a little bit of the wedding spirit too.

Paul and Michelle Bow Hat

I’ll claim that as my excuse for making him try on the infamous ‘bow-hat’ that Megan and Liane put together.

Sneaky Sneaky

I really enjoyed this shower and for a few hours it made me forget about all the stresses of planning a wedding and the never-ending to-do list that has become my life. It is really nice to get those opportunities to just BE. Living in the moment is a hard thing to do when you feel like the last several, and next few, months of your life have been all for one moment or day in particular. I have been really careful to try not to set standards in my mind about my wedding day or how things will go. I try to live my life in a very ’go with the flow’ way. There is no point in getting upset about things you cannot change; accept them and try to see how you can keep on shining. It is always important for you to have friends to help you take the tarnish off that silver lining too, sometimes it is too dim to see on your own.

Paul and Ethan

Just an Update

What have I been working on lately, let me see. There is the French Cancan and the Vampire Barbie Sock, but those are nothing much new. I have really been trying to get them done and making pretty good time on them as well. I am close, I can feel how close I am. I was also inspired to design my own sweater, but I will save talking about that until the very last.
The French Cancan, I am still applying the edging. It is really deceptive, you don’t think you have that much left and then it goes sooooo slowly. Partly because the edging only takes away one body stitch every other row. This way, you could only have 15 body stitches left, but you need to knit 30 rows to get rid of those stitches.

Green Shawl 90 Percent

Regardless of that, it is so beautiful! I really love it! A lot of people have been saying “oh! Cool, a shawl!” but they don’t even notice the edging, which is the most impressive part of the whole thing. My mother and mother-in-law-to-be did the same thing. When I showed them the edging they ‘oooh’ and ‘aaaaah’ over it, which was much more gratifying.

VB Sock Finished

I am getting pretty far up the shaft of the sock and coming up on the heel. This sock is striping up a little differently; I think my tension is slightly different. I always have this problem though it is a lot more noticeable with variegated yarn.

Sock Comparison

You could really notice it in the Royal Sock that knit for a lady at work. I really don’t mind the look that comes from them, chances are that no one really sees the pattern or how different it is from one sock to the other.

VB Socks Different Pattern

Another thing I did this week was updated my Ravelry Projects page. I am not too bad at this, usually I remember to keep things updated, but there were a few socks that I completely missed putting them up. I am really glad I keep the blog going because I already had great photos of all my FO’s.
Now that the percentage bar on the Vampire Barbie Socks and the French Cancan are getting closer and closer to done, I am really looking forward to starting something new. Any pattern suggestions? I am thinking another sweater!

Technical Tuesday: To Gauge or not to Gauge…

Since I went over tension last week will go over gauge this week. These two things go hand-in-hand while knitting. Without good tension you cannot take accurate gauge, and without accurate gauge your garment will not fit. It is a ‘wrist bone is connected to the arm bone’ kind of thing.

In order to start this off right, I will tell you the story of my first attempt at a pattern. I had this gray yarn, from Michaels, that looked like tweed. I wanted to make a really cushy sweater; something really comfortable so I held the yarn double. I followed the pattern to a T and sewed everything up, and there was no way this was going to fit me. It might have even been a bit big for Paul, so I gave it as a gift to someone who LOVED it and actually fit into it.

I managed to discover gauge the hard way and have now because a gauge tyrant. I always swatch and very carefully do all the gauge math to make sure my garment turns out perfect; even then, it doesn’t always work. I’ve had a couple fabrics stretch after blocking or shrink; sometimes they even lose all constitution after blocking and you are left with a slippery and limp sweater, which is really more comfortable than it sounds. However, when it isn’t what you wanted, it can be disheartening.

Without further ado, here are some videos about gauge and gauge swatching.

A tip I learned at Vogue Knitting Live was to never put a boarder on your gauge swatch. I always used to slip the first stitch in the row of my gauge swatches, but I learned later that this would throw off my calculations. The slipped stitch changes the nature of your fabric ever so slightly and can make it seem like there is one too many or one too few stitches in your gauge. This is the same for a seed stitch boarder or ribbing.

Another tip I learned was to always cast on the amount of stitches for the recommended gauge. If the gauge is supposed to be 21 stitches for 4 inches, then cast on 21 stitches. It makes it much easier to see if your gauge is off when you just have to see if the square measures 4 inches. I used to cast on more than I needed, if the pattern wanted 21 stitches, I would cast on 30. Then I would measure how many stitches were in four inches and divide that by four. There were some other unnecessary, yet complicated, things in there, but I have seen the light and started doing this the easy way!

 

Silence is Golden but Duct Tape is Silver

Okay, I will admit that I did not actually USE Duct Tape, it would have left a mark. Liane and I have been trying to figure out the best possible way to skein things. The way we were doing it was A) not ergonomically correct at all. Seriously, while we were spinning the swift sometimes the bars holding the yarn would come up and hit our forearms. While this doesn’t sound particularly painful, I will assure you that it is not something you want to experience while you are turning a swift as fast as you can. B) the swift was slipping all over the table.

Swift 1

As we were turning the swift and it was sliding across the table. To stop the swift from sliding across the table I would put my hand on it but my hand wouldn’t be low enough and the next time the swift came around it would hit my knuckles. After I had finished cursing, I would try to wrangle something so it wouldn’t slide. I managed to get it between my knees so it wouldn’t slide as bad but it slipped out.

Swift 2

I finally got so frustrated that I used masking tape to attach it to the table. This worked great for about 10 seconds then the tape started coming off. Liane actually just started adding layers and layers of tape in an attempt to keep it on the table. This wasn’t working really well either, but it was keeping the swift on the table. I count that as a win.

Swift 4

Another modification we added was to add a pole to turn the swift. We drilled a hole in the leg of the swift so we could turn it and keep our forearms above the poles. This works really well, I wouldn’t go back on this for anything!
Lets hope it keeps going well, I will continue to keep you updated on the upgrades we keep doing to these swifts and hopefully they will be perfect.

Swift 3

Sidekick Saturday: Sara

Hello all! Welcome to my first guest post! Every time I have a guest post I am going to put them on a Saturday for SIDEKICK SATURDAY!! I doubt there will be one every week, but Sara has given me a two-parter. For the first segment… an introduction about her post Muddling Through Mittens – Fun with Two Colour Knitting.

Before I dive into the intricate nature of multicolour knitting, I’d like to start with a brief introduction *The word brief in this context is a red-herring… I’m almost never concise. I would consider myself to be a close friend of our fearless blogging & knitting leader, Michelle. Though through the years we’ve grown apart geographically speaking, we manage to keep in touch as best as two ladies can while simultaneously yarn-crafting, working and planning weddings (just one and a half months between the big days).

Michelle and Sara

Our friendship blossomed during our final year at University. My boyfriend (and now fiancé, soon to be hubby) and his housemates lived just two houses down from Michelle and her ladies. As Michelle and Paul‘s relationship developed, and as mine did with Piotr, the time Michelle and I spent together grew as well. With graduation from University, and specializing through college (for us ladies), it became more difficult to get together on a regular basis. Thus the need for pre-scheduled creative gatherings.

I have always been a very creative and crafty person (not to toot my own horn), and I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to express my creativity. Most of my creative outlet (before the takeover yarn has had in my life) was through drawing, painting, sculpting, photography and paper-crafting (usually cards). I worked at an artist’s supply store throughout University and before that I worked at my local library (delving into the spooky past of bookstacks and the dewey-decimal system).

Michelle and Sara 2

One day on a much needed “est-fest” (a happy term coined by this blog’s captain), Michelle was sitting on the couch surrounded by her feline companions and many much yarn. I was intrigued to say the least. That was the beginning of the end! Michelle first taught me how to crochet – I always liken the difference of knitting and crochet to skiing and snowboarding:

Knitting: two needles, yarn VS Crochet: one hook, one yarn. I feel it is much more simplistic.

For my beginner years, I was definitely looking for simplistic. After a trip to the craft store for supplies, I was well on my way to crocheting my first blanket… in single crochet. For anyone who is aware of crochet terms and stitches… crocheting a BLANKET out of single crochet is just.. a lesson in futility. This project has never been finished. Its still sitting the bowels of my knitting cave amongst many balls of yarn end-bits, destined to one day become a beautiful granny square crocheted blanket. This was however, a turning point – I googled, you-tubed and read countless online guides about crochet stitches, patterns, symbols, and the such like. I even found a wonderous blog (Lucy’s “Attic 24”) full of colour, patterns with step by step photos, even non-crochet/yarnly things like fun recipes and crafts. After many years of crocheting for pleasure – and even for very small profits (a market bag here, a matching slouchy beret and mitten set there…even a large purple polkadotted giraffe..don’t ask), I decided maybe Michelle was onto something with this mysterious hobby called “knitting.”

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Not that I had never knit before, but it was always something very small…very not useful…and always just one colour. My mum would often cast on a few stitches for me during Christmas Holidays in primary school… I’d get bored after a few rows and she’d cast off. I never really made it past that. But in these recent years of yarn-fun, I had crafted many decorative pillows, some gorgeous blankets (that my puppy might have eaten…maybe.. he did, I just can’t bear the thought). I always looked at Michelle’s amazing colour work sweaters, intricately stitched scarves (esp the criss-cross one! I believe is called Entrelac), and really fun socks… thinking “I wish I could make useful things like that.” Blankets and decorative pillows are very useful, but I needed to expand my horizons.

Functional Friday: Knitting to Share by Gerard Allt

There is an interesting story behind this book. I had seen a pattern from the book on Ravelry and the only place you could get it was from the book. This book, first published in 2008, was quite illusive. I probably could have ordered it from somewhere if I really wanted, but I hate ordering books online. I like to flip through them and feel the pages. I think that is something strange that I do, but I really like to touch it before I buy it.

Knitting to Share

I searched through book stores and knitting stores. I wasn’t actually looking, so much as checking when I had the opportunity. I think it was almost a year until the book actually presented itself for purchase. Oddly enough it was at the fall Creativ Festival. I happened to walk by a booth selling all manner of crafty books and checked to see if this book was among them. I didn’t see it, so I asked the person manning the booth, just in case I had missed it. He actually had it in the back. There was only one copy left.
I was really glad I waited because it made finding the book that much more exciting. Also, the pattern that I liked was a maternity pattern and I didn’t know anyone who was pregnant at the time and didn’t plan on being pregnant myself anytime soon. I had the time.

Knitting to Share 2

The overall impression of this book is very earthy, in the sense that there are hand-drawn examples and the yarns are closer to natural colours. All the samples are knit in tones of cream, brown and greens. There are some colours, but I find they are slightly muted; a pair of baby booties on the cover are knit in yellow, green and red. The red isn’t glaring, but it doesn’t qualify as pink either. I think the brightest yarn in the book is the men’s hand warmer pattern.
One aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was the name of the patterns. Each pattern has the name of an angel in it. Gerard Allt wanted this book to encourage good will and give people a lift when they need it. In the introduction, he states that when you knit something for someone, you are putting love and work into that garment and passing it onto that person. There are three small blurbs about ‘for those you love’ and ‘for those in need.’ Allt strongly recommends that you donate knitting for those in need. There is an entire world of people out there who could use the comfort and love a knitted hat would provide. The links provided in the book are for Care to Knit and Water Aid. There is a gallery of photos from a non-profit event filled with yarn bombing and the most gigantic granny square blanket you will ever see!

Knitting to Share 3

The patterns are relatively easy to follow and are prefaced by a heartfelt introduction with info such as ideal recipients for this gift or the inspiration behind the pattern. There are also a couple ‘hints’ sections. Small things that would make substituting yarn base or weight easier, help through tricky parts of the pattern and diagrams.
This book has beautiful patterns and a great message. It is obvious the author poured a lot of time and love into the creation of this volume. If you can spot a copy, this would make an excellent gift for a knitter of any level.

Button Lane

I have heard about this store in Toronto that sells thousands of buttons really cheap. I’ve never been there myself, but always thought it was the perfect place to find buttons for a cardigan. Fabric Land is good for buttons, but they are quite expensive, local hand-made buttons are great for the occasional cardigan, but not all the time. This place, was perfect.

Buttons 2

I originally thought it was a store that only sold buttons, but it was actually a sewing store with fabric, thread, handles, buckles and all manner of embellishments. It was really disorganized and cluttered and I will admit to being slightly put off by the sight, simply because it wasn’t expected. I forged on in the pursuit of the perfect buttons for my Ombre Cardigan.

Buttons

I followed the narrow path to the back of the store and there was a corner of the store with nothing but buttons from floor the ceiling. I was a little overwhelmed so I let my eyes glaze over and just searched for blue. Since I am much fonder of blue than I am of orange, I decided that I should go… more blue. Of all the hundreds of buttons I wanted to keep with the theme I had going and not going with a third colour or texture. The toggles seemed much too heavy for this cardigan; it was knit with lace held double. The buttons need to be delicate to work with the garment.

Buttons 3

I wasn’t finding much in the blue, so I decided to look at orange and I found the perfect buttons. They are an opalescent orange and the perfect size. The main thing I was worried about was the buttons not fitting into the proper sized hole. I actually had my sweater there and tried to push buttons through the holes in order to gauge their worthiness.
Overall the trip was a success despite the lack of polish on the store. I would definitely go there again to get buttons because of the sheer variety. Trust me when I say, there is the prefect button there for everyone.

Socks Socks Socks

I have started a sock to display at the K/W Knitters Fair. I used the base Vampire Barbie because it was really popular on Etsy, but there had not been any samples knit from it. Everyone LOVES this sock, I think I might have to hide it before the show or it might not make it.

Socks VB

I knit another ribbed sock in order to show off the yarn to the best advantage. You really don’t want to do too much of a crazy pattern when you have a variegated yarn because the pattern will fade into the colours. When I knit the Alpha Sock pattern for my mom in the Manos del Uruguay’s Alegría yarn. The yarn was very colourful and the Alpha Sock pattern had cables up and down the sides. I thought this was a really cool pattern and my mom would like it. However, the yarn choice was not the best for this project. You can hardly see the cables at all, and for the amount of work that went into these socks… it would be better for a little more pattern definition.

Socks VB 3

I love knitting Glenna C’s A Nice Ribbed Sock pattern. I find it very soothing. It isn’t something you can mindlessly knit, you have to make sure you keep with the pattern, but the pattern is not a complex one. Just knit, knit, knit, purl. It almost becomes a mantra in my head and feels like meditation. I tried to get into meditation after my concussion. My doctor as well as myself thought it would help with the headaches. I could never really do it though; my mind was way too active. I would constantly find myself thinking about something when I should be clearing my mind. A friend of mine, who has the same problem, said if you focus on something inane, like an apple, it would keep your mind engaged but relaxed. I found this to be a bit more difficult than simply thinking about the apple. I would start out okay, but after a while I would be thinking about eating that apple, then if had any apples at home, then I would be compiling a grocery list or something similar.

Socks VB 2

I digress; I should simply say that knitting keeps me sane. Knitting these socks in particular is one of my favourites, the gauge I am using for these socks happens to create this interesting pattern on the shaft. I unknowingly hit the magic number when I cast on and started knitting. This has happened to me accidentally a couple times and everyone loves it. People always ask how I manage to get such an interesting pattern going. It is never satisfying when I say it was just the yarn and how it ended up knitting.
I think these socks are going to be very popular and lets just hope they don’t disappear before the show. I would really like to be able to display them in the K/W Fair and hope that everyone thinks they are as cool as my would-be sock thieves do.

Tension you Wouldn’t Want to Cut With a Knife

One essential skill in a knitter’s repertoire is tension. Fairly new knitters might not know exactly what tension is, so I am going to give a definition before diving right in. Tension is the force you are exerting on the yarn as you knit. Some people knit very tightly, pulling the yarn tight after every stitch is formed, resulting in a tight fabric with small stitches. Other knitters knit more loosely, giving their work a more open appearance. Two knitters can knit the same project in the same yarn on the same needles and get objects that are two different sizes because they knit with a different tension.

I personally started with a very tight tension. When I would knit, I used to pull the yarn tight and create a very solidly woven fabric. Once I started getting pain in my wrists from knitting, I had to figure something out. I googled something along the lines of ‘ergonomic knitting’ or ‘pain in wrists from knitting.’ I got a result that talked about gauge and tension. There was a note at the bottom that mentioned tight tension and how it can cause pain because of the stress you put on your joints. From then on, I made a conscious effort to knit with a more relaxed tension and my problems simply vanished.

I have found tension to be something every knitter figures out for themselves at some point. You will knit enough that you gain tension through sheer repetition. The project I perfected my tension on was the Harry Potter Scarf. It was around the time that the last, or second last, Harry Potter movie was going to come out. I wanted to make a Harry Potter scarf with the burgundy and yellow stripes. I just winged the design and managed to make a long striped tube. I put tassels at the end to close it into a double thick scarf. Since it was knit in the round, I would sit and knit for hours without a break or paying much attention.

Of course, once everyone had seen the scarf, they wanted one too. I actually had enough yarn to do several; after about my 4th one, I had tension perfected. I was actually lucky I had a project like this to help me on my way; the same stitches over and over again was perfect practice. Knitting different projects all the time would not be the ideal situation to get to know your own tension, especially when you are stopping to check the pattern then starting again. Once you are a seasoned knitter, these things are no problem at all; but in the beginning, they can cause your garments to be lose in some areas and tight in others.