Three Month Wedding Update

The stag and doe has finally passed! A couple friends of ours were waiting to see how successful our stag and doe was before they decided if they were going to have one. While it was very stressful to put together, it was definitely fun!

Alanna Marianne Me

I shouldn’t say that it was too stressful, because Paul planned everything. I have been having a hard time with my stress level lately and really not feeling well, so Paul took everything upon himself and planned it all. After that, I think it was just the stresses of a big event coming up. I tried to do my part and sell a few tickets here and there, but I really did not do too much.

The day of the S&D we had a BBQ for all the people who were coming to help out, and our families of course. Everyone brought a salad and Paul and I provided the hotdogs and hamburgers. Between 12 and 3pm we talked and figured out where things were going. Who was going where, what the itinerary was, etc. We got the hall at 3pm and had to leave to set up.

Chris

Everyone went over to the legion at 3pm and I stayed behind and tried to clean up as much as I could from the BBQ. My bridesmaid Erica with her four-week-old son stayed to help as well as my friend Sarah, who had hurt her knee.  I am really glad we stayed behind because it wasn’t long before there were a flood of texts asking me to bring things to the hall that were forgotten. Markers, games, meatballs, etc.

I am not going to lie… I smiled with smug satisfaction. One thing I do that drives Paul absolutely bonkers is when I forget little things that are essential. If I am making dinner and we stop at the grocery store on the way home, we pick up the ingredients. When we get home and I am actually making this food, I realize I don’t have any onion, or something else that cannot be left out. Then I bat my eyelashes at him to run out and just grab onion. It drives him insane. It has been especially bad since my concussion because my memory has never quite recovered. I have to write everything down or else it is just GONE.

I think this was a good learning experience for him because usually it is me that knows everything and everyone constantly asks me ‘where do you want this?’ or ‘where is this?’ or ‘how does this work?’ I think he was pretty worn out by the end of the night and EXTREMELY glad we have a wedding planner and he won’t have to deal with that on our wedding day.

Whack it Winner

The setup went really fast, by the time I was done cleaning up and got to bring all the little things that were missing, they were done. The day was really humid and sticky so I wanted to take a quick shower and wait for Shauna to come do my hair. Since I never wear makeup, Shauna and Marianne decided I should wear make up to this event and try out fake eyelashes. No one was injured in the application and I managed not to glue my eyes shut so I will put that in the win column.

When I got there, the rest of the night went off without a hitch. There was a pretty good turn out and I think everyone had fun, which is the most important thing! I am glad it went well and look forward to the next event coming up. That will be the bridal shower here in Burlington. Mostly people from work and a few friends.

I feel I should explain the photos below. We had two jars, ‘Pie the Groom’ and ‘Pie the Bride’. People put money in the jars throughout the night to see who would get a pie in the face at the end of the night. It is pretty obvious who won…

Bride Pie-ed

The wedding is coming up really fast, I feel like the last three months are going to really fly by!

Etsy Update!

It is coming around to the time where I need to update my Etsy listings! Since I have been stocking piling all this yarn, I figure I should at least have it up on the Etsy site. I don’t have photos of everything so the update will happen within the next couple days, but I have a few teaser photos for you!

Yarn Photoz 2

I’ve been trying to have the Garnet Label photographed since it is the most lacking. I believe I only have one listing with multiple photos and colour options. I really need to put each colour in it’s own listing so there is no confusion.

This is going to be a great way for me to keep track of my stock as well. Instead of going through and counting all the skeins every time, I am just going to adjust my inventory on Etsy. I just need to sign in and see what the stock looks like! Keep an eye out for this Etsy update; hopefully it will be within the next couple weeks!

Yarn Photoz

I’ve also started sending out a monthly newsletter. There is a place to enter your email in the sidebar now. It is the very first one. I am going to be sending out coupons to the Etsy shop and updates about the blog and inner workings here at Stitch Please!

Technical Tuesday: Cables!

I have taught a couple people to knit; since I am not always on hand to answer questions and show them how to do things at home, they end up teaching themselves quite a bit. I am going over cables because I realized I’ve never actually shown anyone how to do cables. Sometimes it can be a little confusing and the written instructions may not seem the clearest.

I really liked this video for several reasons, first, because she showed you all the different cable needles and mentioned that you can use any of them or a double pointed needle. I always use a double pointed needle because that is what works for me. A couple friends that have taught themselves to knit, told me with EXTREME guilt that they were using another needle or a double pointed needle instead of a cable needle. They either didn’t want to go out and buy one, or they didn’t know where they could find one. Rest assured, there is no wrong way! I always use a double pointed needle and have actually never owned a cable needle. If it works for you then it is the right way.

The second reason I really liked this video is the way she showed you how to see how many rows you have knit between cables. I didn’t actually know this trick and am really happy I found it! I am forever trying to count the stitches on either side of the cable. There is a lot of guesswork and sometimes some frogging.

That video was very comprehensive so I am not going to post another one, the next video here is how to read a cable chart. Now, usually there is a legend to tell you what the symbols mean. There is no universal legend for stitch charts, so ALWAYS check your legend.

Usually charts are accompanied by written instructions. I prefer the charts because it is a lot easier to loose track of where you are in the written instructions. Here is a list of commonly used cable abbreviations and what they mean.

C2F
Slip 1 stitch purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 1 stitch from the left needle. Knit 1 stitch from the cable needle.
C2B
Slip 1 stitch purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 1 stitch from the left needle. Knit 1 stitch from the cable needle. 
C3F
Slip 2 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 1 stitch from the left needle. Knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.
C3B
Slip 1 stitch purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 2 stitches from the left needle. Knit 1 stitch from the cable needle.
C3L
Slip 1 stitch purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 2 stitches from the left needle. Knit 1 stitch from the cable needle.
C3R
Slip 2 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 1 stitch from the left needle. Knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.
C4F, Cross 2 Left
Slip 2 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 2 stitches from the left needle. Knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.
C4B, Cross 2 Right
Slip 2 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 2 stitches from the left needle. Knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.
C4L
Slip 3 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 1 stitch from the left needle. Knit 3 stitches from the cable needle.
C4R
Slip 1 stitch purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 3 stitches from the left needle. Knit 1 stitch from the cable needle. 
C5F
Slip 2 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 3 stitches from the left needle. Knit 2 stitches from the cable needle.
C5B
Slip 3 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 2 stitches from the left needle. Knit 3 stitches from the cable needle. 
C5L
Slip 3 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 2 stitches from the left needle. Knit 3 stitches from the cable needle.
C5R
Slip 2 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 3 stitches from the left needle. Knit 2 stitches from the cable needle. 
C6F
Slip 3 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the front of the work. Knit 3 stitches from the left needle. Knit 3 stitches from the cable needle. 
C6B
Slip 3 stitches purlwise to a cable needle, and hold to the back of the work. Knit 3 stitches from the left needle. Knit 3 stitches from the cable needle.

I have seen in some European patterns the use of T2B or T2F, this is cabling on the purl side. This is not particularly common, usually patterns have you knit the knits and purl the purls on the wrong side of your knitting, but I feel that I should warn you about them.

The most important thing you can do is always check your legend and ALWAYS check your cable as soon as you have completed it. As the above video mentioned, you can make corrections but it doesn’t look as good. I personally just rip back the knitting and start from where I needed to fix my mistake. It is really depressing to rip out a couple inches of cables to be aware while knitting! Make sure you have fun too, cables aren’t frightening and really add a classy touch to a lot of garments!

Monday Mishaps: Taking Issue with Mohair

Since I sang the praises of ShiBui Silk Cloud here on Friday, I’ll tell you how badly I managed to screw it up during the knitting process. Most of the time, my Monday Mishaps don’t really have much to do with the product or products I am using. It is me not paying attention and just going off on an assumption. Since I always say to never assume, because you only make an ass of you and me, I should really not live in this glass house.

Issues with Mohair 4

First thing you should know about this yarn is it sticks to everything. It sticks to the inside of your project bag, it sticks to your shirt and it sticks to itself. On one hand, sticking to itself is amazing because you don’t need to weave anything in, I just cut the strand I was currently using and spliced in the next strand. You didn’t need to do much in order to splice it in, just kind of put it close together and rub both strands between your fingers. Considered to everything else, this was nothing.

I didn’t manage to finish the scarf Friday night, I had gotten it mostly done, but not totally. I woke up on Saturday and knit a few rows then prepared to graft it together. This is when I discovered that I had done the provisional cast on wrong. Instead of unraveling when I pulled on it, the cast on stayed firmly put. I am stressing an even stronger recommendation that a quick overview of the provisional cast on be included with the pattern. Since I did it wrong, I had to meticulously unpick the cast on and pick up the stitches as I did. After this, I was thoroughly exasperated, but ready to do the grafting. I made sure to leave an extra-long tail because if I ran out of yarn on the grafting, I was going to lose my mind!

Issues with Mohair

I started the graft and it went very well, it looked great! I was very worried because in the last scarf I had knit, you could easily see the graft and I was not really impressed with that. However, closer to the end of the graft, my yarn was looking very short. I thought to myself ‘What. The. Hell.’ I had DEFINITELY left enough for this graft, there should have been an excess, a large excess. As it turns out, since the darning needle was half-way through the tail of yarn, I had not moved it closer to the open end as I went along. Instead of giving myself more slack I had been grafting in the open tail end of the yarn.

I didn’t have time to go through and pick the end out. I had to get ready because we had to leave for the train.

When we got to the train station, I dropped off Paul to get his ticket while I parked. The line for tickets was 20 people deep. There was no way he was getting through that line in 10 minutes. I told him to just buy a Presto card so the next time we could just tap and get on the train, rather than waiting in line. After Paul and I got onto the platform and the next train was 15 minutes away I realized we forgot the tickets for the game on the kitchen table. I wouldn’t have time to run back and grab them, and I already paid to get on the train. Not wanting to be a pain in the ass to the birthday girl, I called her boyfriend and asked him if he had access to a printer. Since he didn’t I ended up emailing the tickets to Alanna and she printed them at work.

After this was settled, I sat down on the platform and tried to fix my mistake. IT TOOK FOREVER. I had to carefully separate the graft from the tail and pull the tail out, without tightening or otherwise altering the original graft. After this, I was able to complete the graft on the train and take photos.

Alanna's Scarf

I told Alanna that the scarf fought back when I tried to complete it, but the beginning of that day was almost biblical in it’s tests. I was lucky the train wasn’t late or something! Even though we got off to an auspicious start, the day flowed fairly well after that, and the Ombre Cardigan was well behaved.

Functional Friday: Gradient Scarf by Shibui Knits

Here is the review of the pattern for Shubui Knits Gradient scarf. As you can see in the photo it ranges from colour A to B to C to D. That is not actually how the pattern is written. I like to take my own initiative with patterns, but I did knit it true the first time.

The cowl I made for myself was a chocolate brown, flax, gold and a deep purple. I decided to follow the pattern and do the brown twice, so it goes from grounds to camel, to flaxen then Velvet It is quite subtle. Normally I don’t do subtle but I wanted the gradient to be as inconspicuous as possible. It worked out quite well, for the most part.

Shibui Scarf

The pattern itself it not very difficult; this cowl is worked with a seed stitch while holding three strands of the mohair yarn. The first thing you do it make a provisional cast on, the instructions plainly say to use your favourite provisional cast on and cast on X amount of stitches. I personally do have a favourite provisional cast on, but I think I would have outlined one for those who are not as experienced with more advanced techniques. Aside from the beginning the pattern is really clear about which colour to sub in next and which one to take out. It really into too hard to figure out if you use your head.

Shibui Scarf 2

One thing that is very good to know about this pattern and yarn is, once you have completed it and wear it a bit, the yarn stretches. If it looks a bit small I wouldn’t worry about it because I made mine a little smaller than I would have liked but once the yarn got really comfy in this new position, it relaxed. I know it might have been short sighted for me not to realize this, but the thought never struck me. Partly, I think, because I don’t really knit too many things that are in danger of stretching. The yarn I usually use is much more springy and robust.

Shibui Scarf 3

The needle size also goes onto the long list of things I like about this pattern. So many people look at the think mohair and go ‘you’re knitting a scarf… with that?’ The assumption that it is going to take the rest of my natural life is misplaced. This pattern is knit on 5.5mm or US 9 so it knits up really REALLY quick. Mind you, this is not a heavy winter garment that is going to protect you from the ravages of winter, it is a fashion piece. It is incredibly soft and beautifully coloured, perfect to be worn next to the skin for a warm summer night out.

Happy Birthday Alanna

Okay, so it isn’t today but yesterday was Alanna’s birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Now I can finally reveal the super sneaky project I have been working on! I was able to hand over the cowl this weekend; there wasn’t too much time to spare as I finished it on Saturday, but so help me, it was complete.

Alanna's Scarf

This was knit in Shibui Silk Cloud, in the colours suit, graphite, raspberry and caffine.Alanna had mentioned that she really liked my version of the scarf when I first finished it last year and wondered if I would commission one for her. I questioned her about the colours she would want, when she was ready of course. Just throwing around ideas she liked these colours, I think the only colour I substituted was caffeine because the original colour she liked was sold out.

This is what I have been working on for the past couple weeks and I am really glad to have it finally finished!

Scarf Collage

I managed to get it to Alanna before we went to the Blue Jays baseball game on Saturday and she really LOVED it! I shouldn’t talk though, I had a good time knitting the cowl and it is hard to hate something that is made of silk and kid mohair.

At the baseball game I got to work on my Ombre Cardigan, which I thought was very enthusiastic of me since it had the Blue Jays colours in it! The rest of the sporty people were shaking their heads at me and asking if I was bored with the game. It isn’t so much I was bored with the game as I can’t sit still at all… ever. Even when I was watching an absolutely riveting tv show… I am knitting.

Baseball Knitting

Aside from the cowl and sweater, I really haven’t worked on too much. I had to get some of the things for the wedding done up. The stag and doe is this weekend as well so I have been slacking off on my knitting in order to get some of these things done too. I’ve been calling people into service all over the place so watch out! You never know who I will assign a wedding duty to next!

 

Stitches be Droppin’

Okay, I know everyone who read the title of this post just recoiled in fear and horror. Dropping a stitch is an annoying and terrible experience that we all have or will encounter. The first video you see will be how to fix an accidentally dropped stitch so everyone can have peace of mind! The true topic of today’s post is how to drop a stitch, on purpose, and follow it down to fix a mistake.

Now that everyone has seen how to pick up a dropped stitch I hope you will be more comfortable trying out the techniques outlined in this post.
I love dropping a stitch to fix mistakes because that means I don’t have to rip out several inches of work to fix something small and relatively insignificant. I most commonly use this technique when I am doing colour-work and have made a stitch of the wrong colour within the pattern. The fiddlehead mittens for example, if I messed up the pattern I will usually find out along the next row. In this case, I carefully drop the stitch with the wrong colour and pick up the yarn of the right colour. Usually the yarn is just carried behind so it is very easy to pick it up. If you weave in the back of your colour work as you go, you can usually get away with one or two stitches of changed colour.

You can also drop a stitch down to take out an accidental increase that the accursed knitting pixies put into your knitting; because we all know it was definitely not us. If you missed an increase or added one too many you can fix it by dropping down a stitch; the same thing goes for decreases.
If you are doing a particular stitch, such as a textured stitch and you went off your pattern, you can drop the stitch down and fix it. It is much easier to drop the stitch down and move a purl bump over one row rather than rip out two inches of knitting. The same rules apply if you shift the stitches on a seed stitch or a rib pattern.

As with fixing any mistake, catching it early is really REALLY helpful. Once I had dropped a stitch in my stockinet stitch and I had continued knitting for about six more inches. Needless to say that if I picked up this stitch it would have looked like a run in the fabric of my scarf. I ended up fudging it and threaded yarn through the live stitch and wove it into the fabric so you could not really see where it was dropped. It looked like a very subtle increase, but I am crazy enough with my knitting that I always noticed it. I finally had to give the scarf away before it drove me insane!
The moral of the story is, watch your knitting. Make sure you don’t drop a stitch on accident or go completely off the reservation with your pattern. There is safety in numbers stay on the reservation!

Monday Mishaps: Swiftly

The dyeing I have been doing for the show, is getting behind, right now I think I stand to be three weeks behind. It really doesn’t sound like a lot, but it translates to a whole lotta yarn that needs to be dyed. The dyeing isn’t what is on my mind today though; it is the reskeining. Whenever I dye anything, I reskein it so those who purchase it won’t have to fight with it… well that AND it looks much prettier after it has been reskeined.

Swift 2

First, I was having issues with the swifts. I had two plastic adjustable swifts, which are like magic when you go from a swift to baller, however, they were not pleased to be helping out with the reskeining. When you reskein yarn from one swift to the other, a certain amount of tension begins to accumulate. The plastic swift was being squeezed in the middle to the point where I was very afraid it was going to break.

Swift 3

I had finally decided to get a wooden swift that would stand up to the amount of tension I needed. Looking online, they ranged anywhere from $50 up to $200. That is not even including the really ornate ones. I didn’t need something ornate, I needed functional. Even the absolute cheapest versions I could find were not worth it because the shipping cost as much as the swift itself.
I resorted to looking up DIY swift instructions online. I will take this opportunity to explain how Paul and I are NOT handy at all. We have only lived in our house a year and thank heaven nothing serious has broken because I would have to call my father, who lives three hours away. Aside from not being able to fix a leaking tap, I wasn’t sure how we were going to make this swift, we really don’t have many power tools to speak of and buying them JUST for this project seemed absurd.
I ended up mentioning this to Liane and she volunteered her fiancé Richard for the job. He has the tools and the experience to finish this project. I sent him over one of the DIY websites and pretty much told him I wanted two and he could bill me. As impressed as he was with my request he took on the job with good grace.

Swift 1

The first swift was built to the specifications within the website and christened ‘The Prototype’. It wasn’t very stable though and after explaining why the person who wrote the instructions was a quack, Richard modified it a little bit.
I am pleased to say with all the hard work Liane and Richard put in, I now have two very stable and functional swifts! Liane volunteered to help me skein a little bit and I showed her the fine details within the mechanics of a swift. Not that it is rocket science. We quickly termed the second attempt at the swift as ‘Ankle Crusher’. The arms of the swift were a little long so you could use them to turn the swift itself, unfortunately this had the side effect of smashing your ankles, thighs, forearms or anything else that got too close. You also had to lean waaaaaaay over to use it. I was clearly headed to ergonomic hell.
Luckily Liane was having none of this and we took said ‘Ankle Crushers’ to her place where she promptly removed the extra length of wood. I am in awe and slightly jealous of the way she wields a skill saw.

Lucky seemed like she liked the look of this yarn cake!

Lucky seemed like she liked the look of this yarn cake!

With that modification we are onto version 2.1 and I think it is a winner. There is some catching of the forearms on the pegs that hold the yarn, but I will see what feedback Paul has for me. He is, after all, the head skeiner of Stitch Please.

Linen Stitch Scarf

The Koigu linen stitch scarf I completed last summer was one of my favourites! As per usual with my favourite things, it looks much more difficult than it is. This is the only pattern I have had a chance to complete from Church Mouse Yarns and Teas, but I have heard excellent things about their patterns!

I really like knitting things that are unique. It really sets them apart from all the other scarf or sweater patterns. Keeping things interesting is one of the best ways to learn new things and stay engrossed.  I particularly like this scarf because it is knit lengthwise instead of width wise.

Linen Stitch Scarf

Whenever I knit scarves, I am constantly checking the length to see if it is finally long enough. I subscribe to the school of thought that it is better to have a scarf too long than too short, but I always get impatient to be finished and cast off a little earlier than I would like. With this scarf, you cast on the entire length all at once. If you have completed your gauge swatch, you will know exactly how long it is going to end up. Oddly enough I didn’t get impatient and make it really skinny, I kept going until the scarf was a very decent thickness.

Within the pattern there are a couple modifications to make the scarf very different. One of these are to use all your leftover sock yarn in one scarf. Every different colour of the rain bow yet, they all seem to flow together. Instead of turning your work and going the other way, you cut the yarn and leave it long. These random strands form tassels! I am not a tassel person myself, so I turned my work and went back the other way; I was also using only three colours. I’ve seen this scarf started and it looks beautiful!

Linen Stitch

I find when people make socks; there is an average colour palette. My socks are generally cooler colours running along green, blue and purple lines. There is a little bit of red thrown in, but overall, those colours are predominating. You could even separate your yarn into warm and cool colours, if you have the shocking amount of leftover yarn that graces most stashes.

The pattern itself is easy to follow, I had never done the linen stitch before starting this scarf. The pattern was clear enough that I didn’t have to youtube instructions on how to knit the linen stitch. Aside from that it was really quite easy. I did not check my gauge because… well… it’s a scarf and I didn’t really care how big it was going to be. It ended up being around 8 feet long, because the pattern was written for sock yarn and the kit I was knitting it from included worsted weight yarn.

Linen Stitch 2

To date, this has been the comfiest scarf I have ever knit. It was so essential this winter when everything was frozen and we thought summer would never be here.

Bridal Shower Number One

I feel slightly embarrassed whenever I tell people I have two bridal showers. I kind of feel like they think I am just trying to get more stuff or something. I had one for my family this weekend, they live around Sarnia and that is a three hour drive from my house. I didn’t want my family to have to drive three hours to come to a shower here and I didn’t want my friends to drive three hours for a shower there. I ended up just splitting the difference and having two.

Shower Sign

This weekend was for my family and there was a turnout of about 15-20 people. My friend from Burlington, Liane, volunteered to make the drive with me so I had good company. I went early in order to help out a bit, from what I gathered, things had been pretty hectic the couple days before. However, I was told I was not allowed to help with my own shower and ended up playing with my nephew for a little bit.

 

 

Shower Table 2

Then I realized, I had forgotten the one thing I was supposed to bring; thank you cards. We were going to put them on a table and have people address them as they came in. This way I could write out the cards, put them in the corresponding envelope and send them off. I made a quick trip to Walmart to pick up some different ones, but they didn’t have a box of thank you cards, only individual ones.

Shower People

Since I had little thank you cards at home, I just found a box of small envelopes and brought them back. People would be able to fill them out and my little cards would definitely fit in them. Back at the house, everything was coming together and as soon as 2pm hit everyone arrived. It was like someone had planned it; three cars pulled in one after the other.

Shower People 2

It was really nice to see everyone again; I don’t get an opportunity to see my Dad’s side of the family very often so it was nice to catch up with my cousins. One of my high school friends was able to make it out as well, which was really nice.
There were some word scramble games, and get to know the bride and groom. Since most of that side of the family has only met Paul once or twice, there were some humourous guesses as to what super hero he would like to be and if he could live anywhere where would he live. There were a surprising amount of right guesses for my side. Cousins and aunts who hadn’t seen me in over a year were able to guess things like my favourite colour and food.
After the games, there was a game for me to play. Everyone had brought a pair on panties and I had to guess who brought which pair. I was extremely bad at this game and I just tried to stare down people till the person who brought it cracked a smile. This technique was more effective than my guessing.

Shower Table

After this I opened presents; everyone was very generous and I got a great deal of things to replace my student kitchen ware. After living together for five years, we have accumulated quite a few things. Paul and I registered for kitchen ware to replace those that were reaching the end of their natural life span.
After gifts we ate! The shower theme was strawberry, so there were strawberry mimosas, chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry cake, strawberry cheesecake and any other way you could conceive to work a strawberry into food. The favours were small jars of homemade strawberry jam, everyone LOVED the jam favours.
Now I have been brain storming a little bit to come up with interesting favours for the next bridal shower and the wedding. What is the best favour you have taken from a wedding or shower?

Who Needs Socks in Cuba?

The short answer to the title of this post is NO ONE! It was very very warm and I only got as much sock done as I did, because I had to keep coming into the air conditioned room and out of the hot Cuban summer weather.

Sock Folded

Before we left for Cuba I checked the weather, just as an anticipatory “Ohhh man, it is going to be really hot and beautiful weather!” When I actually checked it, there was a forecast for rain every day. I didn’t really mention this to Paul because I didn’t want him to be disappointed, but I packed a whole lot of knitting. I wasn’t sure why it said rain every single day, but I was going to be prepared.
As it turns out, summer in Cuba is the wet season, so it does rain, but not like it does here. It rained almost every day, for an hour or two; either overnight or in the evening. It was the time when you would be getting ready to go to dinner or going to bed (if you are 85-years-old inside like Paul and I).

Sock Heel

Since I had to keep coming into the air conditioned room I managed to knit in the afternoon and evenings so I finished the first sock and got very close to finishing the second one.

Sock Cuff

While Paul and I were in Cuba my order from Knit Circus arrived! I haven’t casted on yet because I have been working like a fiend to get my super sneaky secret project done! There will be the big reveal for that next Wednesday!
I have been trying to organize my plan of action for knitting a little bit. For the future I am going to need to have samples of knitted garments in my own yarn. The Ombre cardigan is a good start, but I will need a lot more than that. I feel like I will have an abundance of socks, so I’ll have to focus on other garments such as shawls and more sweaters. Any pattern suggestions?

Technical Tuesday: Kitchener Stitch

Today’s post is brought to you by the Kitchener Stitch! A lot of people absolutely hate doing the Kitchener stitch because they don’t really understand how to do it. It can be confusing when you only do it once in a blue moon, but I think it is really amazing . The very first time I did this stitch right, I was amazed! You can’t even tell where it was grafted together!

Sock Toe

The very first time I attempted the Kitchener stitch, I was knitting Elizabeth Zimmerman’s seamless hybrid sweater. There was a short description about how to complete this stitch and I followed it to the best of my abilities. Considering that I had only been knitting for a few months, I doubt I would have understood.
I use the Kitchener stitch most commonly on sock toes. By grafting the ends together you cannot tell where they were separated. It looks like solid knitting the whole time. I feel very sad when people don’t knit a pattern specifically because they have to graft something. Here is the video I found most helpful when I was learning.

Once you get the hang of it, I always say out loud “Knit-wise, purl-wise; purl-wise, knit-wise.” When I was first starting out, saying the directions out loud helped me to keep track of the stitches in my head. Now it is more of a nostalgic comforting thing; if I start to annoy people I turn my volume down quite a bit. Here is another video that I found decent.

The above two videos are more of a basic understanding of Kitchener stitch, so for the more advanced knitter, here is a video showing how to Kitchener stitch without a darning needle. I could have used this on my trip to Cuba, I didn’t think to bring a needle with me.

I really hope this has shed some light on the Kitchener stitch and made people a little braver to try it. When others talk of grafting, they usually mean the Kitchener stitch, it is just another way to describe it. As always, if anyone has any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to comment below or email me. I am always happy to help!

Monday Mishaps: Dyeing is Killing me

As you have read I have been doing a lot of dyeing and as you can probably imagine, the more you do something, the more you can mess it up. I have managed to find a few little things to make it easier, but I have had my fair share of screw ups lately.

First of all, with all the dyeing I am going to be doing, I made a schedule with what colours I was going to dye in what weeks. In order to make sure I didn’t run out of yarn completely, I also created a schedule on when I should order more yarn for the weeks ahead. I started by writing out all the yarn I was going to be using for the future and put room for a dye order once a week. Using excel I managed to figure out when I should be ordering what.

Dyeing 1

With my math skills I thought this was a particularly fine achievement. Now that I am more than a week behind, I have to shift everything in my book. Luckily I planned on getting behind; with everything going on with the wedding and having been unwell for the last little while, I figured I would not be at the top of my game.

Dye Explosion 1

Along with the schedule for dyeing, the job itself is extremely messy. I remember writing that it was much easier to dye one colour and multiple bases a while ago, but this means I have to make the dye solution several times in one session. This leads to a lot of colours on my kitchen island. I am glad I have the thick plastic covering it or else all the rubbing alcohol in the world wouldn’t be able to help me.

Dye Pot

I am going to have to look for more pots and pans in hopes that this will speed me up even more! Every time I dye a whole bunch of yarn, I don’t go slow and steady, I marathon through it. I don’t start unless I have time to do a lot. By the end, my back and feet are killing me; I’ve already cut the amount of time spent dyeing in half, lets hope I can cut it down again!

Functional Friday: Scissors on an Airplane

Since Paul kept the secret of Cuba until a few days before we left, I packed in one to two days. I usually pack over the course of about a week… Maybe even two. As I think of things I drop them into a suitcase and I am sure to have everything I need. I managed to decide I was going to bring the socks I was working on, but I was close to finishing the first one and would need to cut the yarn and start the second one.

Airplane

I looked at the flight guidelines for bringing scissors onto a plane and it said a blade under 2.6 inches was okay in carryon baggage. We weren’t bringing any checked bags so I couldn’t put it in there.

I measured my scissors and they were just under the allotted amount of blade you are able to take on a plane. Looking at them though, they looked pretty deadly to me and I really didn’t want trouble when trying to cross into Cuba. So I bought this.

Snip it

That’s right, the snip it you use to open milk and chip bags! The blade is only like 3cm and enclosed within a niche. It would be really hard to hurt yourself with this, let alone hurt someone else. You could theoretically walk up and say, “Oh excuse me, but would you please put your jugular in there and hold still?” Even then, it would probably be pretty difficult.

It was sharp and worked like a charm! It was also really useful for those little things you don’t think about, like taking off the wristband from the resort. For those knitters who travel and want to knit on board; this is a great little tool!

Anniversary Surprise

Paul and my six-year anniversary was on June 22, since it is the last ‘dating’ anniversary Paul decided to surprise me with something. He went through my planner and picked a stretch of five days and wrote ‘busy’ in each section so I didn’t plan anything else on the same day.

As it turns out, we were going to Cuba! A long time ago Paul and I were thinking about planning a trip somewhere. At the time, our budget just didn’t allow it so we were not able to go. I had mentioned that I didn’t want my first all-inclusive vacation to be our honeymoon. As the wedding came closer and closer, I completely forgot I said that and just accepted that we weren’t going anywhere before our honeymoon. I guess Paul has been planning this for a couple months and managed to get us a last minute deal really cheap.

Selfie

So I have spent the last five days in Cuba on a resort. It was extremely hot and humid. I managed not to get sunburned, but got a little heat exhaustion. I had to keep going back into the air-conditioned confines of our room since I am not used to spending a lot of time in a hot sunny environment. I managed to sleep a lot and spend quite a bit of time in the pool.

It was a much-needed vacation; I was getting very close to turning into a bridezilla. Even though we really didn’t do much more than sleep and swim I feel better for going. It’s nice to get an emotional reset sometimes and hey, if it is in Cuba, so be it!

Ocean

Sorry this isn’t a long and involved post, but I am exhausted and want nothing more than to go to bed in order to get up early and be refreshed for work tomorrow morning! Check in Friday for my review of the most useful piece of equipment for knitters on a plane!

Technical Tuesday: The Anatomy of Felting

In my previous Technical Tuesday posts, I covered blocking and cautioned about agitating the knitting too much because it will cause felting. I had a couple people email with questions about felting, so I thought I would dedicate an entire post about it. If you understand how things become felted it will be easier to avoid felting or do it on purpose.

Fiber Compare

The picture above may look like microscopic photos those shampoo commercials use to demonstrate split ends, but they are actually different yarn fibers. You will notice the four on the left look a little spikier and jagged than their counterparts on the right. Felting is caused when you rub two of those fibers together and the split ends get hopelessly tangled together. The rough edges want to stick to one another and never let go.

If you look at the polyester, on the far right, it looks like a perfectly straight tube. It has no rough edges or spines sticking out from it so it would be almost impossible to felt this fiber. This is why you can throw most synthetic yarns (acrylic, nylon, polyester) into the washer and drier.

Superwash yarn would look similar under a microscope. Superwash yarn is created when a fiber is soaked in an acid bath and all those little spines are burned off. This creates the ideal yarn for socks and baby knits, since it retains the natural fiber content, but is easily washed. An interesting fact, some people have a sensitivity to superwash yarn, but it can be a response to the lingering traces of the acid bath on the yarn.

In order to understand felting on purpose, here is an instructional video on felting oven mitts!

I really like the oven mitts and this is an excellent idea for housewarming gifts, you could felt matching pot holders too. I have the sudden urge to felt a coffee cup cozy… I may have to check into my non-superwash stash and see what I can felt up!

Monday Mishaps: Apparently there is a Curse?

I read quite a few knitting and crafting blogs. I enjoy knowing what other people are up and all the clever things your average crafter comes up with. The other day I was perusing one of my regular blogs and I came across an article about the Sweater Curse.

Cursed

The premise of the Sweater Curse is, if you knit a sweater for a person with whom you have a serious romantic interest, that relationship will either end before the completion of the sweater or immediately after. There is circumstantial evidence that this curse also applies to scarves.

Chloe Scarf

One explanation of the Sweater Curse is, handmade sweaters are typically thick, clingy and stretchy. The handmade sweater suggests the maker wants to surround this partner with love and warmth. However, to some men* this is a sign that this particular knitter has serious plans regarding his future. For those not ready for such a commitment it can cause fear, anxiety and a crushing sense of claustrophobia. The love and warmth previously mentioned will be felt as the shackle to a ball and chain; thus this gift of love can cause the unintended side effect of turning your paramour into an Olympic sprinter headed for the exit sign.

Chloe Sweater

Among my research, there was mention that a deliberate mistake within the knitting will negate the Sweater Curse by suggesting the article does not hold as much sentimentality as the gift would suggest.

When I knitted my first sweater I made it for Paul. I, of course, did not know about this curse at the time so felt completely safe making it. There were no catastrophic repercussions, but then again, the sweater was not perfect. The grafting was sloppy, the decreases were obvious and the yarn was absolutely huge! As it turns out I may have been saved by this little loophole in the Sweater Curse, the next sweater I made him was almost perfect. There were no glaring errors anyway, and by that time we were already engaged and planning our wedding.

Paul and the Sweater

Apparently the Sweater Curse need not apply to married or engaged couples. A handmade sweater for a husband or fiancé is alleged to keep him safe and warn off other women. If the handmade sweater is not enough, you can always put some colour-work on the back ‘PROPERTY OF MRS. ____________.’ To go so far may risk the unpleasant effects of the Sweater Curse to resurface.

I learned there was a Wikipedia article about this specific curse; I was thrilled. Usually I have a hard time finding really good references like this and I find it extremely amusing that it is in Wikipedia! Of all the things!

*I am using the pronoun ‘he’ since I have a ‘he’ at home… and it was exhausting to dance around gender specific pronouns.

 

Functional Friday: Vanessa Smith Julissa Review

The only pattern by Vanessa Smith I have actually knitted is the Julissa pattern. I really loved knitting the Julissa and it fits so perfectly! There were a couple stumbles and bumps along the way, but I think those were more my fault than anything else. Again, I was knitting without my brain on… I am really going to have to stop doing that.

Cables Julissa

My first issue came with the raglan decrease, I blogged about it here. While I did have issues with the raglan decrease it is something that is fairly standard. I was just not connecting what the pattern said and what my hands were supposed to be doing. Nevertheless, I managed to figure it out!

The pattern in general reminded me of the style TFA patterns follow. It was clear, professional, with great quality photos.

The way the pattern is laid out is very logical; with clear boundary lines there is room for notes as well. I especially love this since I almost never follow exactly what a pattern says. I usually at LEAST change the needle size since my gauge never matches. I always have to go down one or two needle sizes to match the pattern, or use a finer yarn. I n this particular pattern I took full advantage of this space and noted the needle sizes I used and the specific yarn. I always think I will remember, but this is never the case.

PJ Julissa

I am very fond of organization and plain, yet elegant things. This is really evident in the patterns I am drawn to. This particular sweater is very plain except for a lace panel in the front and a plait down the arms. These details add enough to set off the flattering shape of the sweater without overpowering the design.

The sweater has a perfect shape for me; the waste shaping here is not exactly what I thought it would be. Most of the time waist shaping means you decrease in for the waist and go back out for the hips or bust, depending if your sweater is knit from the top down or the bottom up. Usually this creates a nice perfect, symmetrical hour glass shape. As most people will tell you, not everyone is a perfect hourglass… as much as we might wish. This sweater is knit from the top down and as you are increasing to make room for hips, the pattern calls for more stitches than we started with for the bust. It never really dawned on me to change these proportions, but I may not be as clever as Vanessa Smith. This small detail makes the fit even better. Now, I always alter my waist shaping to these dimensions.

PJ Julissa Front

Aside from my Fiddlehead Mittens, this is the most complemented garment I have made. I ended up taking away the waist shaping skills and I use them regularly, since I make so many sweaters. I am really looking forward to making more of Vanessa Smith’s patterns, I really enjoyed knitting the Julissa and hope I will get time to knit her other patterns as well!!