Technical Tuesday: Mattress Stitch

As with the case of most people who don’t sew often, my stitches aren’t the neatest.  I always avoided sweaters that needed to be pieced together. When a pattern finally persuaded me that it would be worth it to venture out of my comfort zone, I had to learn.

I Heart Aran

I was lucky enough to pick Tanis Fiber Arts I Heart Aran Sweater. Not to sound too much like a fan-girl, but I cannot say enough about Tanis’ patterns. They are clear, well written and one of the reasons I’ve become the knitter I am today. I’ve learned so many skills from these patterns. Even when the directions for a particular skill are not included, the pattern is very clear and easy for a novice to follow.

This is the exact video I used when I was learning to do this technique.

As you can see it is not very intimidating. I really love this technique because you cannot see the seam from the right side when it is on two flat pieces of knitting. In the picture below I used this technique for the shoulder seam and it could have turned out neater, but I would say that is not bad for a first try!

I Heart Aran Shoulder Seam

Monday Mishaps: Right in the Middle

Monday Mishaps! Another weekend has come and gone, I hope everyone had a good time and lots of knitting. I am going to go with an old project rather than something I have screw up recently. There hasn’t really been a catastrophe big enough to merit writing about.

Nordic Sweater

You will all recognize this picture of the brown Nordic sweater I did last year. I get so many complements on this sweater because of the beautiful colours on the yoke. What people don’t notice is the waist shaping.

This sweater is knit from the bottom up in one piece. The hem is a different colour than the body and there is some light blue detail around the bottom. I got so caught up in completing the details, and appreciating how beautiful the contrast between the light brown, blue and medium brown is I went right on to knitting the body.

If you’ve ever knit a sweater from the bottom up where the body is completely stockinet stitch, you’ll know that it’s kind of an autopilot thing. I remember I was watching Lord of the Rings and making good progress when I remembered I was going to do waist shaping.

I’d never done any waist shaping before and I wanted this sweater to be fitted. If I failed to do waist shaping, it would give me a potato sack look and that is currently not the style I am looking for.

I stopped knitting the body immediately and researched waist shaping. The few resources I found that gave specific instructions without having to purchase a pattern stated that, when knitting a sweater from the bottom up, you should start your decreases an inch from the hem. To me that seemed a little soon AND I was about two and a half inches up. Naturally, I started the waist shaping right there.

Bottom of Nordic Sweater

The waist shaping was supposed to be slight, but since the yarn was so thick I miscalculated how much of a curve two stitches would effect.

When all was said and done, the slight waist shaping turned into something that would have been decidedly more… contoured, except the waist shaping settles just above their target mark.

It isn’t really noticeable unless you’re looking for it, or a raise my arms above my head… or move at all. As a result I don’t really wear it as much as I would like, but it was an excellent learning experience. I know much more about waist shaping and I was able to build off that and get my Julissa to fit perfectly!

What’s Up Wednesday

Wednesday! The halfway point of the week; where it doesn’t look entirely too hopeless! The light at the end of this tunnel is a sunny and beautiful day, not a train. You can’t tell I am looking forward to the weekend, can you?

Yarn Drying

Friday night, Dave messaged me from Johanne’s Knit n’ Stitch saying that I should come in the next day. I responded by asking if there was something in particular they needed or if I should bring anything. Apparently there was a surprise there for me. Man! I know he did that on purpose! Friday after they’re closed he tells me to come because there is a surprise waiting… argh! I almost died of curiosity. As my mind ran over the possibilities I tried to narrow it down. I hadn’t ordered anything, as far as I knew there wasn’t anything coming in that I was asking about. What could it be?!

Johanne usually has draws and you get a ballet with every purchase. I never win stuff like this, ever. The last draw was a Soak box with a skein of Lorna’s Laces yarn, matching nail polish and two bottles of soak. I was the one who won it! It was really nice to finally win one. I am going to open it up and check it out, I’ll let you know what I find.

Before I headed over to Johanne’s, Alanna came over and we dyed some yarn! She was curious about my dyeing process, so we spent the whole morning putting colour to yarn!

I had ordered a few new colours including bright purple, deep purple, gold and an emerald green. I dyed a few custom orders bright purple and bright blue striped, and deep purple and gold striped. They turned out well, I am going to knit them into socks.

Yarns Collage

We also dyed emerald green, which is beautiful with the slight sheen the Blueface Leicester has.  The second skein is Magenta and black, I’ve seen a black and red yarn called ‘Vampire’s Kiss’ I think I would call this one ‘Barbie Vampire’ or ‘Vampirette’. The last one is just a duplicate of the bright blue I made my socks from.

HD Blue Sock

Speaking of socks, I finished the blue ones. I remember I said I was knitting them a little tighter. They feel better than the previous ones I’ve made, but I really haven’t broken them in. I’ll have to give you an update after I’ve spent more time in them. I am really curious about how the yarn will hold up. Apparently you want to have nylon in the fiber you make socks from. The synthetic fiber makes your garment a little more durable. The yarn I used for these socks is 100% merino wool, but looking into some other sock yarns, they are made with 100% merino or BFL. Even extremely popular brands like Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock. It’s all in the way they are spun. I can’t wait to see how this works out.

Like a Ninja

First week back at home and everyone survived! The house isn’t clean, but we managed to unpack! Tonight I am headed to LYS Johanne’s Knitn’Stitch to show everyone the results of my trip. I acquired a few books including a small book of knitting cartoons by Franklin Habit. It is a really charming book that would make any knitter roll their eyes and smile, because they know it’s true.

Hopefully I’ll get a good chunk of the Coolbreeze button band done while I’m there. I think it is the last thing I have to complete before it is my first finished object of 2014!! I am getting restless and need to finish something! I feel like I am in the knitting black hole, where you knit like crazy and don’t go anywhere.
For the main part of this post, I am going to talk about a skill every knitter either has, or longs for. Knitting without looking. Sometimes when I am in a public venue, I’ll knit along on something and someone will sidle up and ask how I can do it without watching. Now, I am not doing complicated lace charts or anything; just stockinet, or ribbing. Chances are, if you’ve been knitting for a while, your hands know what to do. It is like touch typing. When you become familiar enough with a keyboard, you don’t need to look in order to figure out where the letters are located.
I began knitting without looking because I wanted to read while I knit. I would prop up a hard cover book and hold down the pages with my iPhone; I was horribly slow, but I was succeeding. This really took off when I was knitting Gryffindor scarves for the last Harry Potter movie. It was plain stockinet in the round for a good 10 inches then change colour and another 10 inches. I would read, or watch tv, in order to keep my mind occupied while I completed these tedious, mindless projects, I think in total I made approximately five of these scarves.
Chloe also discovered the joy of climbing up inside what was, essentially, a 6 foot tube.

Chloe also discovered the joy of climbing up inside what was, essentially, a 6 foot tube.

They weren’t perfect either. I dropped stitches and sometimes forgot to change colour, but by the time I was done those bad boys, I could stockinet without looking. To help train yourself I suggest you find something your eyes want to look at more than your knitting; a movie, the view from a vehicle window, a conversation partner. Sometimes I simply put my head back and close my eyes. It must look really strange, but if you have a slight headache (as I have SOME experience with these) it feels nice to rest your eyes, but continue knitting. You will be able to feel the stitches coming up on the left and passing to the right.
As you become more and more comfortable with stockinet, you will be able to move onto ribbing. I am most comfortable with K1P1 ribbing, but that is personal preference. I can do K3P1 ribbing, but I have to count it in my head, it wouldn’t be good if I were knitting in complete darkness and could not see.
If there were one knitting skill I absolutely would not give up, it would be this one. I can knit in moving cars without feeling motion sick, I can knit in movie theatres, or people watch on public transit. It generally contributes to my stalk-y people watching in a really huge way. No one thinks I am paying attention because I am knitting… that must take my full focus, right?
Like anything in life, it just takes practice. I find, especially with knitting, you learn to love the things you hate, as long as you don’t give up on them. When I first started knitting, I HATED purling, it was really awkward and made my wrists hurt, but the more I did it, the more comfortable I was because I stuck with it. I just realized the other day that I used to hate purling and now I can’t wait to get to the purl side row on my grandmothers sweater because there are no accursed CABLES!!
Another blog-worthy note, you may have noticed that I am trying something new with the comments. Please leave a comment with feedback on how easy or difficult it is to sign in and leave a comment. If you are unable to comment, please email me and let me know at nusseym@gmail.com.

Last post of 2013!

I personally would like to say that I am completely and totally happy to see 2013 go. It’s been a rough year and 2014 looks like it will be much better. I believe in cosmic balance and predict that 2014 will be absolutely amazing to make up for 2013.

Today will be a short post; I haven’t been feeling well so you just get a quick update on the knitty things going on.
I had a friend commission a hat for his daughter. The requirements were purple, soft and warm. Something that an 8-year-old, independent, little woman would like. At first I was a bit stumped. It has been a long time since I was eight; I am sure things have changed a bit. Working with what I had, I went to the LYS and took pictures of all the soft, warm, purple yarn they had and emailed them to said clientele. After the purple had been picked, things sort of fell into place. Friend and his wife also wanted black and white so the hat would fit with her current snow suit. BAM! This is what I came up with…

I really liked it; I am tempted to make myself one.

I did have some yarn left over and I may make her a matching scarf or cowl. I dropped off the hat today because they wanted it before the New Year, but I will see what I can do with the leftovers. If there isn’t enough for a scarf, maybe I could swing fingerless mittens or something. I’ll have to sit down and try it.
Grandmother’s sweater is on hold until I feel better. It isn’t the kind of thing you can do while your mind is only half on it. You need all your marbles in one basket to work on that thing or else you’re getting into a cabeltastrophy.
With those short comments I bring 2013 to a close, GOOD RIDDANCE!! I wish you all fitness, friendliness and fantastic fiber in the New Year!