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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
How long did it take from the time your learned how to knit, to finish your first project?
Quick one today, since it seems like a lot of these questions over lap a little. My first finished project according to my Ravelry history is the Baby Poonam by Norah Gaughan which took me about two months to finish. Finish date is the end of April and I figure I started learning in January so a solid four months from learning to finish. I’d say that’s pretty good time considering the sweater in question in fairly technical- cables, seaming, button holes, set in sleeves. I still think the sweater is adorable and might think about making it again with a few years of knitting under my belt. If I also remember correctly there’s a matching adult version I could make for myself whenever I get around to finishing what’s already on my needles.
I don’t remember exactly how I learned even though it was only five or six years ago, but the easy answer is that I taught myself from youtube videos. The tricky answer is that I have a degree in textiles and we covered basic knitting in several courses.
I picked up the basics from youtube videos – casting on and the knit stitch are all you really need to know to get started. I was in a weaving studio at the time so I was completely surrounded by yarn which was amazing, except it was all teeny-tiny weaving yarn and I had no concept of gauge for knitting. For whatever reason I decided to knit a tiny ass sweater to go with it.
It was a baby sweater pattern but I was using like lace weight yarn and US 1 needles – which in my defense I still do – but I didn’t adjust any of the stitch counts to make it fit an actual human baby. But this did spur an actual like “art” thing later so it worked out I guess. Anyways, I didn’t know about blocking or how to make button holes or anything so it isn’t really finished but I was so dang proud of it. It’s pretty wonky and phone cameras back then were pretty much garbage by today’s standards but I got all the parts right, and I effectively taught myself how to make a garment and knit cables.
From there I was pretty much unstoppable. That summer I tried and failed miserably at lace and figured out how to use dpns to knit in the round. A year later I had lace all figured out and knit a lot of miniature sweaters that I designed myself.
I’ve actually got three projects cast on right now. I almost never have more than one knitting project in my basket (on the table, on the floor, on the couch for K and or the cat to sit on), but by some weird turn of events I’ve got three.
Project 1: Sunstone Shawl
This is kind of my never ending forever project at this point. It’s one of those projects that I can pick up when I don’t know what else to knit but knowing it’s going to take me forever to finish it makes me not want to work on it. For some reason I decided to use US 0.5 needles and super fine yarn to make a very large shawl. I mean this thing is going to be stupid beautiful whenever it gets done- but it’s not going to be finished anytime soon.
Project 2: Snowflake Socks
I was super excited about this when I started them. I was going to have a few different pairs and release a set of patterns right around now. I ran our of yarn halfway through the first heel. It took a few days to make it to the store to get another skein and by then I decided that I needed to knit a sweater for myself. So on that trip to the store for one little skein of yarn I ended up being seven other skeins for a sweater.. The yarn I needed is still at the bottom of the shopping bag and the socks are still on my desk in my studio where I left them.
Project 3: The Sweater
After a few days of searching for a sweater pattern I decided on an old classic. I’ve already knit this sweater for my sister several years ago and I’m not sure if the pattern has been updated or I’ve just learned a whole bunch about knitting in the last few years but this pattern kind of sucks. First of all, it’s seamed. I hate purling, like a lot. I’m also not a huge fan of seaming. Knitting in the round is the way to go – no rowing out, less purling, no seams. I also really hate dropped sleeves. I looked at a lot of project pages for this sweater and I read a lot of other peoples notes. The consensus was that the sleeves are way too big and create a bat wing effect. I’m planning on doing some raglan decreases instead which also means I don’t have to pick up any stitches for the sleeves and extra bonus I won’t look like a child in my grandfathers sweater. It’s knitting up pretty fast by I forgot how much my hands ache when I knit with large yarn and needles. My fingers are actually swollen and my tendons are kinda twitchy but I, of course, won’t take a break from knitting, so…
Anyways, I’d love to hear what you guys are working on! Check out my previous post to see Day 1 of this challenge and for the full list if you want to follow along this challenge with me.
To get into the habit of writing more frequently I dug up a blogging challenge I’ve seen floating around on Tumblr. I always thought about doing one but never bothered to go through with it. But we’re going to try this out and see how it goes, this is primarily a knitting blog after all. I’ll post the full list at the bottom of this post incase anyone else wants to follow along.
Day 1: What was your first finished project?
I remember the last crochet project I finished. It was a baby blanket for my cousin. I remember thinking as I was frantically trying to finish the blanket that I wish I knew how to knit and that I should teach myself right now. My mother wisely reminded me to finish one project before taking on an entirely new craft. I finished the project and immediately started watching youtube videos of people knitting.
I’m not entirely sure what my first finished project was but according to Ravelry my first finished project was the Lamar Scarf by Gale Zucker. My project page says I finished it in May 2012 and it took several months to complete. There is of course no picture of this project but I used the chunkiest grossest fake wool. I believe it was barely long enough to be functional but I was super impressed with myself because it was cabled and reversible. At one point I had intended on undoing the cast off and making it longer but I just never got around to it. The sad creature is probably sitting in my parent’s basement waiting to be thrown out.