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Pumpkins One, Two, and Three (and Me)

when I started the blog...

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Entries in knitting (55)


My first softie.

It surprises me but it's true...I've never made a softie before.

And of course, I would have thought my first go at a softie would be a sewn project.  And for one of my kids.  But nope and nope.

Meet Virginia.


Little Miss Virginia Lamb, to be specific.  And she was knit as a birthday gift for my sweet mother-in-law who collects lambs.

To up the cuteness factor (not to mention to cover up some beginner-knitter mistakes), I also made a removeable wool coat knit from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Astrakhan.  My Ravelry notes are here and the free pattern is also on Ravelry, here.

We put a sign on her.  Because we're corny like that.  Okay, actually, I'm the only one who is corny like that.  My poor family.


Two of the kidlets have put in orders for their own lambs--the other child is holding out for a  full-size puppy.  Not so sure about a larger softie, but these little guys only take a couple of hours to whip up.  And if I can do it, anyone can--this was the fourth thing I've ever completed!

Bye Virginia...happy tails, er, I mean trails..I know, I know.  I am not punny.

I will stop now.


Linking up here...

The Girl Creative



The DIY Show Off 



First wearable knit.

I'm certain I fell behind with blogging as soon as summer started.  And there is likely little hope that I'll catch up.  But that's okay because that's what summer is about--being terribly busy doing not much of anything, right?  I will try, however, to do a little recap soon as I have some special things to document--visits from friends and family, lots of new recipes, the boys' many adventures, and, of course, my new love affair with knitting.

To my sewing peeps:  fear not, sewing is still number one for me.  But knitting is now a solid second.  It moved up in the rankings ever since I entered the realm of auto-knitting.  This means I can knit as I sit in front of the tv, at lessons, wherever, really.  And I like that I'm not anti-social as I do it.  I can carry on a conversation, I can watch the boys at their's such a lovely, portable craft.  It is, quite frankly, a dream for this multi-tasker who cannot stand to just sit.

I mentioned that I cast on my first lace project--the branching out scarf.  Well, I'm very happy to report that I actually finished it!  And...this is the shocking part...I really, really like it.  And...this would be the milestone part...I think I'll actually wear it.  I was on the fence a few times whether to bother ripping out a few mistakes.  But in the end, I'm glad I did because not only did I fix my mistakes, the process taught me so much.  Such as the world will not end if you need to rip out lace, as long as you go steady and slow enough to catch the stitches.  It also taught me to never, ever, rip out lace with three young boys in the room.

Here it is fresh off the needles, unblocked.

If you don't knit, I've probably already lost you.  But in case you're still here, here is a shot of part of the wet blocking.  I was very intrigued about the claims of blocking--"it can magically smooth out your piece" I constantly read.  The process is very simple:  you wet your item then stretch or otherwise shape it as desired.

I soaked my scarf, squeezed out the water by rolling it in a towel, then laid it out on our guest bed, straightening and pinning it every few inches to flatten it. 

After it dried completely, I was indeed impressed how blocking flattened all of my stitches, making everything look much more uniform.  I am officially a blocking enthusiast.



Here it is on.  With a t-shirt.  Because the temperatures this summer have been as blazes, nonstop.  Can't wait for the right weather to actually wear it.

Next up is my first go at using double point needles to knit fingerless gloves.  And I just got my yarn for Shalom.  Oh, and some super secret knitting is in the works.  Let's see if I can keep the momentum going...



Practice, practice...

Soccer--and swim and tennis and karate--practice for the older boys = more practice knitting for me.  More cotton yarn, this time worked in the 'bamboo' stitch for another dish cloth.

And even though I have no business doing this, I've cast on for my first lace project.  It's a free scarf pattern aptly named Branching Out

I have learned it is neither suitable for mindless knitting nor to be done without a pencil and the pattern chart at hand.  But I'm enjoying it nonetheless as I'm determined to learn how to read from a chart.  I've reminded myself how 'smart' I am countless times as I've ripped and restarted many, many times due to mysteriously dropped stitches.

Once it's done, I have set my sights rather high on the very thing that motivated me to relearn and begin knitting again in the first place:  the Shalom cardigan.  My close friend, Jenn, is a very experienced and skilled knitter and she says she'll do a knit-a-long with me.  There are so many blog posts about Shalom that even non-knitters have probably noticed it.  I plan to do the soulemama version which has sleeves and an extra button.  I am so excited! 



Knitting, again (again).

Two things happened to prompt me to pick up my knitting needles again.

First, my sewing machine had to go in for service.  It took a week to get back!

And second, with the kidlets out of the house for a couple of days last weekend, I felt it safe to pull out and set down long, pointy things.  You see, the older boys are going through a huge, all-consuming, Star Wars phase.  And I use the term phase very loosely because I fully expect it to last years.  Even the two-year-old can make pretty impressive light saber sound effects as he swooshes about whatever he's gripping.

In search of a quick, one skien project, I headed to the library to check out several knitting books.  Two immediately made it to my 'must buy next time I'm allowed to buy books' list (I have a wee problem buying craft books).

My word--these two books have filled my head with ideas, like crazy.  But before I actually go crazy (because odds are I will), I am having fun practicing new techniques with low-cost cotton yarn.  Yes, I am talking about dish cloths.  Sort of a funny thought to me at first.  But now I totally get it.  It's just enough repetition to figure out whether you want to commit to a certain stitch pattern before you cast on a more ambitious project.  And more importantly for an on again/off again knitter like me--it gives you plenty of low-stress opportunity to learn how to correct the inevitable mistake.  First up, a ballband dishcloth, allowing me to practice working with two colors.

So fun.  And quick!  This does not bode well for my craft budget because I foresee a yarn buying trip in my near future.  And looking at the prices of some of the hanks and the yardage required for projects I'm queuing up in Ravelry, I think I might have to find a pile of forgotten funds (ha!) to afford this as a true hobby.



Baby steps, knitting.

I mentioned in a prior post that I picked up my knitting needles.  Again.  But I think--I think--that this time it finally clicked.  Actually, scratch that.  You know how sometimes you dare not say things out loud for fear of jinxing it?  It's like that.

My grandmother, on my father's side, was of German descent.  And she taught me the basics of knitting when I was a child.  I was ten or so, I'd guess.  She taught me in the Continental style because that's what she did.  Sitting beside her, I managed to knit some dish cloths and pot holders.  Even a wallet, though my stitches were so loose and uneven that the coins fell right out--talk about a bummer, not to mention a lesson in irony. 

After I learned to knit, I'm pretty sure I liked the process well enough.  And my grandmother was certainly an inspiration, turning out beautiful items.  But still, I remember not really loving some of the end products, and I'm not just talking about kid-mangled worthless wallets.  No.  My grandmother, being a grandmother and all, was a prolific knitter.  And to keep things economical, she tended to knit with acrylic.  So although I believe I always respected the effort that she put into knitted garments, I didn't exactly treasure them.  I thought the acrylic felt funny.  I know that sounds harsh but I swear I had things that squeaked (acrylic yarn has come a long way). 

I forgot about knitting for a long time, then tried again--for about five minutes--in law school.  I devoted another minute during my last pregnancy.  Both attempts were disasters and I put away my knitting needles once again.  But I wasn't giving up for good.  I knew I'd try again.  I like to think it's part of me, somewhere. 

Flash forward to the present.  It's getting consistently cold here.  And last week, as I reached for the stash of winter garb, I was struck by what I have on hand.  Mittens and hats and scarves--all machine knitted, all mass produced, all so very blah.  What I wouldn't give for one of my grandmother's lovingly knitted items now, acrylic or not.  So I decided to try. Again.

This time, I turned to some books for help.  And I decided to try the English method, since the author of the book I'm using says it's her favorite.  The book is Stitch 'n Bitch, and I, like so many others before me, sing its praises. 

I find that when I knit in the English style, I control my tension a bit better.  I also believe it's easier to follow along with written materials and online knitting tutorials, as most seem to show the English method.  I'm not saying that I'll never go back to Continental.  I do think it's faster.  But I'm very happy that I now know how to do both styles.  Because I feel like learning both really helped me to finally understand how a stitch is constructed.  And yes, I'm a craft nerd but this time it's coming in especially handy as learning how a stitch should look--how it should sit on a needle--means I can now fix a mistake without resorting to ripping out rows and rows of work.  Can I get an amen?  Because I'm pretty sure that the very thing that killed me the most during prior attempts was the inevitable (and frustrating and curse-inducing) cycle of knit, rip, repeat.

I practiced a few nights this week.  Nothing fancy, just knit and purl in different combos using yarn I already had.  I'm just trying to achieve the right tension and find my groove.  I'm excited by how it's feeling and have to resist diving into a project that is too complicated.  Rationally, I know that the last thing I need is to get in over my head.  So I just need to stay off of The Purl Bee and Ravelry.

Over the weekend, I hope to continue knitting and maybe even visit a local yarn shop or two--just to look! 

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