Knitting Blog Challenge Day 18
Do you knit English or Continental?
I had to look up the differences to be sure of my answer for this one. I always get them mixed up. The short answer is that I knit English style, and the long answer is that I knit both ways.
When I first learned I was holding the yarn in my right and dominant hand. I don’t know if this was a conscious decision or it’s just what I was seeing in youtube videos. That’s the way that made sense to me, although they say continental is easier for crocheters to learn.
When I started stranded knitting I was throwing both yarns with my right hand and spent a lot of time detangling my yarn. The strands would twist every time I switched colors and after a few rows it was a giant mess. This method also took a lot longer and my tension was not very good. I don’t remember if someone told me or I saw a suggestion online, but I started holding one of my strands in my left hand and one of my strands in my right hand. It made knitting go a lot faster and my fabric ended up looking much neater. I have since learned that holding the background color strand in your dominant hand and the pattern color in your non-dominant hand makes colorwork patterns really pop. The slight difference in tension means that the pattern stitches are a little looser making the background recede.
In my quick google search today, I learned that a lot of people say continental is better for people with repetitive stress pains from knitting since picking the yarn requires slightly less movement. It takes me a lot longer to knit continental so I usually give up pretty quickly but it might be worth forcing myself to work a whole project that way and see if my joints feel better.
As a side note, I think it’s super interesting that there’s a regional based difference. I had a roommate who learned to knit continental from her mother. Her mother was from Germany where the continental style seems to originate. It would be an interesting history lesson to see which method people use – especially if they’ve learned from a family member. Which way do you use?
Knitting Blog Challenge Day 17
Have you ever had a project that you loved become ruined? What’s the story behind it?
As far as I know, I’ve been pretty fortunate with my finished objects. I’ve found a few moth holes over the years in things I’m not crazy about, and that was partially due to neglect. I would be able to mend those spots pretty easily if I needed/wanted to. I’ve snagged a few scarves on rings and earrings or zippers but those are also easy fixes.
There’s a few reasons I don’t have a lot of damaged items but it mostly boils down to care and material choice. Things that get a lot of use/washes I tend to make with durable and washable yarns. I throw my hand knit socks in the washing machine with the rest of my laundry. If I think of it I might wash them in cold with my shirts, but I usually forget and they go in the hot load. Things like scarves, hats, mittens, and sweaters I only wash as needed. These I usually hand wash, squeeze them out with a towel and then re-block to dry.
Items I’ve made as gifts I usually plan out material choices to suit the recipient. Baby clothes or toys MUST be machine washable. I don’t like to make more laundry for mamas- who has time to hand wash something that’s probably getting puked or pooped on? Most yarn advertised for baby items are machine washable to start so that makes it easy. I like to use sock yarn for baby sweaters – it’s a little more work knitting but it’s hardly ever scratchy and there’s usually better color selection than “baby yarn” which I usually only see in pastels. I’ve only gifted a few 100% wool items and they’ve come with strict washing instructions, or in my sister’s case I’ve offered to wash it for her when she needs (and I’m not sure the sweater I made her has ever been washed…).
Hopefully my luck continues because I would be pretty devastated if one of my favorites got ruined… but then again, that’s a pretty good excuse to buy more yarn and knit it again!
Knitting Blog Challenge Day 16
Have you ever had a knitting related injury?
Hoooooo boy have I ever. I have been absolutely plagued by hand and wrist problems since I started knitting. When it first started happening in 2011 I thought it was Rheumatoid Arthritis. I went to see specialists and they basically told me I was too young for that kind of problem, gave me ibuprofen and told me to stop using my hands. This wasn’t really an option for several reasons – namely I was in school for a degree in textiles and as a general rule, you need to use your hands to make them. I’ve since given up on doctors.
The worst it’s ever been was 2013/2014. I was working wayyyy too intensely. I was in constant pain, I was having a really hard time doing simple tasks like buttoning shirts or holding a toothbrush. I would get shooting pain up to my elbows if I turned my wrist a certain way. I could no longer hold a pen to write more than a few words- which makes taking notes fairly difficult when a lot of professors didn’t want computers in their classrooms. My hands were also randomly spasming and I would drop whatever I was holding- which was often at the coffee shop I worked at- let’s just say my shoes smelled permanently like PSL.
I try to be ergonomic as possible when I’m working but I also tend to knit for long periods of time without very many breaks. Things aren’t nearly as bad as they were but every so often it hurts too bad to knit and I try and take a break for a few days. I’ve learned to deal with it and have found that if I knit at least a little bit every day, especially when I just wake up, my hands tend to be less stiff and hurt a little less over all.
Knitting Blog Challenge Day 13
Do you have yarn that you love but can’t find a project for?
My best friend gave me this yarn as a bridesmaid’s gift almost three years ago. I like the colors and I love how it feels, I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT. I’ve mentioned before, fancy yarns hold me up. I also have no idea what to do with variegated yarns. For someone who primarily does colorwork I don’t like not being in control of wear the colors go. I’m afraid of color pooling or weird awkward stripes. I don’t want to waste this yarn on something I’ll never wear or just give away to someone because I didn’t like how it ended up. Even though it’s sock yarn it feels too precious for just socks. I’ve considered buying a another skein or two of a solid color and doing some colorwork with it, but nothing ever jumps out at me when I look online. If you’ve got the perfect pattern for this yarn leave me a comment and let me know!
Knitting Blog Challenge Day 12
Where do you keep your stash? Post pictures!
I had every intention of cleaning up my studio and making it look pinterest worthy by now. But I didn’t. I’d love to be able to beautifully display my stash on beautiful shelves, maybe one day; but for now I’ve got everything bagged up and weighed out and labeled with sticky notes. I’m kind of terrified of getting infested with moths – I found a few holes in a baby sweater I never put buttons on and after that I rewound a bunch of skeins, washed a few that were especially dusty and bagged everything separately incase I missed something it at least won’t contaminate all of my yarn. I’ve also got three big bins in my parent’s basement that I’ll move once I have space for my loom.
To make up for the sterility, I went through and tried to digitally organize my stash. I’ve added photo’s to most of my stash on Ravelry and have been trying to keep the yardage updated the best I can. I’ve got a lot of half used up skeins and it’s hard to find projects I like for using it all up. I do like that I can search through all my yarn without making a giant mess. And if I’m out buying yarn and need to see if I already have some/have enough I can pull out my phone and look it up.
Knitting Blog Challenge Day 10
Do you have a favorite pattern or designer?
This prompt conveniently lands on a Friday, so I think I’ll do a little Friday Favorites round up of a few of my favorite patterns I’ve personally knit.
I made this a few years ago (mine is the image on the right) It took almost ten skeins of yarn but was really fun to knit. The pattern was easy to memorize and it had never occurred to me before this to knit a scarf in a tube so that all the WS would be hidden away. I don’t know how “in” infinity scarves are anymore but it’s something I will continue to wear regardless.
I’ve been a big fan of elephants for a while now and when I saw these socks I knew I had to make them. I believe these were the first pair of colorwork socks I’d ever made and if I’m being honest, probably spurred my obsession with making them. I had some cones of camel weaving yarn in my stash so I wound a big skein and dyed it black to have a contrasting color. I didn’t really check my gauge with these and they unfortunately are too small for my giant ass feet. But lucky enough for my mom, they fit her just fine. Less lucky for her – she has to hand wash them.
I’ve made this little cutie twice now. The first time was a gift for my best friend and her soon to be born little guy. It was so fun to see him take shape while I was knitting. He was so cute in fact that another friend of mine asked me to make one for his niece’s birthday. I added the purple foot pads and button eyes the second time around. I might even make this a third time because damnit it’s so cute I want one.
Salt by: Sylvia McFadden
The second I saw this pattern on Instagram I went and bought it on Ravelry. I knit this thing obsessively. The stitch pattern is so addicting the whole thing just unfurled from my needles. I couldn’t wait for winter to get here so I could wear this shawl. Mine came out a bit smaller than the pattern indicates but that’s hardly a shock considering how tightly I knit. I was so excited about this pattern that I even splurged on some Wool of the Andes yarn from Knit Picks. It’s definitely already one of my go too scarves this winter.
Knitting Blog Challenge Day 9
What fiber or yarn do you love working with?
As with most things certain yarns and fibers work better with certain projects. I’ve been really lucky to be able to work with lots and lots of different materials over the years. I’ve raised silk worms and spun from silk hankies and silk roving. I’ve been to a few sheep sheering events, one alpaca sheering, and an angora bunny sheering. I’ve washed very poopy fleeces and have been able to turn them into workable material. I’ve also been able to learn quite a bit about dying different fibers with mx, acid, and natural dyes. It’s really really hard to pick a favorite.
For a while I really enjoyed weaving and knitting lace with very very thin tencel yarn. It has a silk like quality and dyes beautifully, with the added bonus of being a plant fiber and much more cost effective.
I have also been lucky enough to have had access to a lot of 100% merino. I know a lot of people who don’t really like wool because it’s always scratchy or whatever but merino throws all of those ideas out the window.
That was all in school though. Outside of school I’ve mostly just used things I can get at chain stores and every once in a while I’ll splurge on something really nice. Most of my yarn now is mixed with acrylic and is super cheap. But honestly it gets the job done just fine. I can throw my socks in the washer because who the heck wants to hand wash a bunch of socks every week? It certainly isn’t me. I think with the things I make the most, which seem to be socks and the occasional mitten or baby sweater, functionality, durability, and ease of care out-way the yarn snob in me. Fancy yarns seem too precious some how. There’s a lot of pressure in my brain to make THE BEST PROJECT with THE PERFECT PATTERN with fancy yarn and it just kind of takes the fun out of making. I also think acrylics have come a long way from the stuff my grandmas would crochet afghans with in the 70s. I have a few blankets from them and you can literally see the strands of plastic hanging out but bonus points for still being warm and cuddly, totally washable, and not eaten by moths.
Knitting Blog Challenge Day 8
What’s your most challenging project?
I’ve been hanging onto a cone of this beautiful golden yellow mercerized cotton. One of my professors during school was clearing out the yarn closet and was going to toss it and I just had to rescue it. I think it works great with this lace pattern. It’s strong enough to work the three into nine stitches, it’s crisp while still having a nice drape and very shiny for a cotton yarn.
The first go around I tried making a racer back style tank from the top down. I got to the armpits and I could already tell that it wasn’t going to fit right. The next time I tried just a basic camisole and that didn’t want to work either. I’ve frogged it a bunch of times and have kind of given up on knitting it for the time being. But I haven’t given up the idea.
Life is really weird when you stay up all night and sleep during the day. That seems like an obvious statement but trying to plan things for say a Wednesday evening is really hard to wrap my head around. It’s hard for my brain to conceptualize time right now. Like right now, Tuesday at 6 am is basically Monday night. Dinner is breakfast, breakfast is dinner. I don’t know when to shower or when to eat lunch. I’m getting used to it, but it’s weird.
Knitting Blog Challenge Day 7
What is your least favorite piece that you’ve knit?
Going through my Ravelry page today trying to figure out what my least favorite project is. I don’t know that I could pick one specific project out. Sure I’ve had my fair share of failed projects but I’ve also learned something from each of them. Scrolling through I can remember making most of them. I remember what the yarn felt like. I remember who I gave the project to. And I remember what things didn’t work with each one. There are things that I definitely don’t need to make again and there are things I would make differently if I made them again. I picked out two projects that should have been made differently.
This first one is a lace hat I made for my mom. I remember buying the yarn and I think my first pair of bamboo needles. The yarn is so silky and has such a nice drape which is exactly what went wrong with this hat. It’s way too floppy, even for a slouchy hat. The pattern called for wool which would definitely hold up a little better and actually be warm. On the other hand, this was the first project I knit that incorporated short row shaping – so I learned something. And my mom stills wears it even though I think it sucks.
The second project I found is this pair of socks. I had been coveting a mitts pattern for a while but at the time I didn’t want to make mitts. I tried to make mittens with this lace pattern which did not work after several tries. I decided to try and make them into socks. Things I didn’t understand at the time of this project were ankle shaping and negative ease. The picture really makes them look a lot better than they are and it was not an easy picture to take. Besides the obvious mix ups in the lace, these are super slouchy and end up making my legs seem much bulkier than they are. I don’t hate the idea of frogging them and starting over. I would probably use the yarn to make the mitts as they were intended in the first place since the wool is really quite scratchy. If I made socks like this again I would use the sock yarns I’ve been using for my other projects and change needle sizes down the leg for shaping since I think adding stitches into the calf would be rather obvious in these.
It is pretty cool to look back at the things you’ve made and see their merit even though they’re not up to your current standards. Having real physical evidence of things you’ve learned is really encouraging and I hope in a few years I can look at the projects I’m working on now and see how much I’ve learned since.
Do you guys have knitting duds? What do you do with them?