Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blogging Isn't Procrastinating....It's Just Doing Other Homework First.

I was planning on going into a whole thing about why I don't walk around wearing tons of sweaters (actually I don't own any sweaters) if I like to knit so much but I came across something else that I want to blog about (and the continuation of the coffee cozies).

I came across this amazing hybrid of two of my favorite things. It's a comic called "Handknit Heroes" and it's a comic book about knitting! HOLY CRAP! I think this is the best blend of things since chocolate and peanut butter.

"Imagine you’re a teenager, and you have some… special powers. Maybe even super powers. And one day, at a sleepover, your best friend in the whole world tells you—you’re not alone. So begins the adventure for a couple of teenagers, a single mom and yarn shop owner, and a whole bunch of hand knitted fun.Handknit Heroes is the first graphic novel for knitters. Each issue features a great storyline with knitting superheroes, terrific artwork, and a beautiful (and easy) knitting pattern." ~Description from the web site

I also just finished a coffee mug cozy with the same yarn as the French Press cozy. I didn't check my gauge and I know it was a bit too small but I blocked the cozy to fit my mug. The pattern has you doing the decreases two stitches from each other and I think if I knit this again, (which I probably will) then I would do one decrease on one side and one on the other so that it would be a bit more even. That said, I'm glad I made this because it covers the Starbucks logo on my mug and I can look less like a pretentious coffee-snob.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Modern Version of a Tea Cozy

On a total impulse purchase I bought some Lion Brand Wool while at Michael's. I didn't really have plans for it, but I decided to make a cozy for my French Press. I knit the whole thing Continental style (with the yarn in my left hand) instead of my normal English (yarn in right hand) style. Continental style is actually more efficient, though it's a little tougher to maintain tension and control. Then again, practice makes perfect. The buttons are green, just something I had in my stash of stuff, though I'm really glad they go so well, and the loops are elastic. I also blocked (wet, shaped and let dry) this a bit which I found made it fit the French Press much better. And yes, having the wool cozy around the press does keep my coffee hot for longer.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Plight of the Double-Knit Hat (Part II)

So after frogging the first attempt at the hat, I bought new needles in the size the pattern called for, did a guage swatch, which actually turned out to be a teensy bit smaller than called for and cast on. I did add the extra stitches because i wanted it to fit his head without stretching too much. When I got to the point the pattern said to finish off the hat, I finished it, and it was WAY too short and it was weird-looking and bumpy on top. I then dilligently undid it and a whole row below that and put it back on the needles and kept decreasing until I only had one stitch per panel. The hat is still too big. It's HUGE. And I refuse to frog it and re-knit it. Maybe I'll felt it.


Sometimes projects just dont work out

(Pics of my boyfriend being sad that the hat is too big. But it's pretty though!)

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Plight of the Double-Knit Hat (Part I)

Every year since my boyfriend and I started dating I have made him a hat to wear for the winter (This is in order to avoid the curse of the boyfriend sweater). Inevitably he's lost all of them except for the first one that I made, which was too small anyway. This year I decided on a double-knit hat from the book AntiCraft: Knitting, Beading and Stitching for the Slightly Sinister by Renee Rigdon and Zabet Stewart. So I got a nice black wool and some Noro Kureyon (read: really pretty and not cheap yarn) and new needles to make this. I also wanted to make this bigger since the pattern says it is 19" in circumference and my boyfriend's giant melon head is a bit over 23" in circumference. I used bigger needles, I cast on extra stitches and I didn't check my gauge. Clearly I am an IDIOT. About halfway through the chart I stopped to check my gauge. It was HUGE. So huge that my friend who has a 36C chest put it around her like a tube top and it fell down. And so, I took a deep breath and very carefully frogged the whole thing.

(Story will be continued in Part II later this week)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Basics (as I know them)

Ok here are the basics of knitting and crocheting as I know them.

is done with yarn and two pointy sticks (generally, we'll get more into the exceptions in a bit). While, crocheting is done with yarn and one hook. In both cases the knitting needles or crochet hooks can range in size from very tiny to very large.

for knitting or crocheting can be made from a variety of fibers. There are yarns made of all sorts of animal fibers, such as sheep, alpaca, goat (cashmere or mohair), rabbit (angora sweaters anyone?), camel, llama, yak and musk ox. Additionally yarns can come from plant fibers such as hemp, cotton, linen, bamboo, corn, and soy. Then if you're looking for even more yarn there are the man-made fibers such as acrylic or nylon. Many knit-snobs will frown on the use of acrylic because they think it is too plastic-ey. I however like acrylics since they are CHEAP. There are several good brands of acrylic yarns out there that are soft and not too plastic-ey.

for both knitting and crocheting can come from a few materials. Usually metal, bamboo, or plastic. Crochet hooks generally don't vary in size (except in the case of tapestry hooks, which I dont know much about and therfore am not going to get in to). Knitting needles on the other hand come in a very large variety of types. there are the general long pointy ones. Then there are ones that are called double pointed needles (dpn's) and they are just that, a stick with a point on both ends. Dpn's are really good for small circular projects like hats or mittens or socks. If you're knitting a larger item (like a sweater) then you can use something called a circular needle. This is two knitting needles connected by a flexible cord that lets you knit bigger things or things in a circle.

Gauge is possibly the single most important thing when it comes to knitting (at least how I see it). Your knitting gauge is when you do a test knit with the needles and yarn you want to use to see if your knitting matches up with the knitting the pattern calls for. When you do this you knit a square and then you count how many stitches are in an inch (or four inches etc). If your gauge is too small you can go up a needle size and try again, if it's too big, go down a needle size. This is REALLY important because if you dont do a gauge swatch (that's what the square is called) you will end up with something that is either too big or too small and you'll have to go through the heartache of frogging it (frogging is the knitter's term for ripping something out because you "rip-it rip-it" get it? I didnt make this up). For instance, instead of getting a nice hat to fit your boyfriend's 23 inch head you will get a tube that will fall down over your friend's 36C chest.

There are many, many books out there that are about knitting and crocheting. I would have to say that the Stitch 'n Bitch books by Debbie Stoller are really great intro books. They give you lots of information as well as many patterns. If that dosent work for you, try your local library or bookstore, they're bound to have books on knitting and crocheting.

Additionally, there are many websites out there that have to do with knitting and crocheting. I just want to highlight a few. First, there is Ravelry, which is essentially Facebook for knitters and crocheters. I am on Ravelry for those who want to find me, I am Klevitan17. Ravelry is a great resource because you can post pictures of your items, find new patterns and talk to people who may be able to help you if you get stuck. Second, there is KnittingHelp, which is a great site of videos on how to do different techniques. Third, if you are looking for really nice patterns or articles on different techniques there is Knitty, which is an online knitting magazine that is published quarterly. Finally, if you are looking for something a little more subversive there is The AntiCraft, which also has a book out. You can also find many magazines about knitting and crocheting as well.

Ok, one last thing and then I'll stop babbling (are you still reading?). While you can easily get yarn at Michael's or JoAnn Fabrics or AC Moore, what you are most likely to find there is acrylic, cotton and acrylic/wool blends. These are all great and I happen to love being able to get cheap yarn. However if you go to a local yarn store (LYS) such as KnitOne in Squirrel Hill, you will most likely find an even larger selection of yarn in many different fibers. Also if you go to an LYS you can ask the people who work there to help you decipher a pattern or do a tricky step in your pattern. LYS's also ususally have knitting groups and classes.

That's all for now. Any questions? Please ask!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Not Another Knit Blog

I am a library student at the University of Pittsburgh and for my intro to information technology class we are required to maintain a blog through out the term. I debated back and forth about what I should blog about. I don't read enough news to talk about that, I don't watch enough movies to blog about that and I don't do anything very exciting otherwise (I'm a full time grad student that is socially retarded for Pete's sake). However, I love to knit and crochet. There are many really good knit blogs out there, such as Yarn Harlot, and I don't know if I can contribute to the knitting world in the same caliber by posting patterns and such. But I realized that if I blog about knitting for class, I would have to knit in order to blog about it. Ergo, I HAVE to knit FOR HOMEWORK! Wow, it really is possible to rationalize anything.
I have been crocheting for about four years now. My mom taught me how to crochet to make kippahs/yarmulkes but I really got started crocheting while I spent a year in Israel. Every girl in school with me there was crocheting blankets by making row after row of double crochet, and while this is perfectly valid, I found it to be inefficient. So I sat down at the computer and taught myself how to crochet a granny square from Crochet Cabana.
When I got to college I then learned to knit with the help of my friend Masha (a total evil knit genius). While I don't consider myself an expert knitter I really enjoy it and am always trying to challenge myself to try new things. Mostly because I go "I want to make THIS" even though I don't always know the techniques.