Knitting on the Brink

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How Not To Blog January 20, 2009

Filed under: babies,hats,Knitting — reichenbachfalls @ 12:46 am

For me, knitting and writing are sometimes mutually exclusive: not enough hands.

Over the last few months, I’ve discovered that knitting and writing fiction AND blogging are a difficult juggling act indeed.

I have been knitting — almost exclusively hats, but I’m also almost done with the Hanukkah sweaters I started, at the same time, right between second midterms and exams.

First of all, I’ve been trying to find the perfect (for me) stockinette Malabrigo Chunky hat pattern. I sincerely love cabling, but sometimes that is just not where my mind is, part of the reason my Tangled Yoke Cardigan is waiting for me to knit the, ah, Tangled Yoke.

Sometimes, in fact, my mind wants a stockinette beanie that looks like a blue, slightly melted chocolate kiss:

Malabrigo Kiss
In other news, I’m particularly pleased with the Charlie Brown-esque 70s sweater I have almost finished:
Charlie Brown
I used Ann Budd’s one-pattern-fits-all child’s raglan sweater, along with a surprisingly small quantity of Brown Sheep Chunky.

This was supposed to be a less stripey sweater, but I ran out of one yarn color, which I always do, and couldn’t find the right color to match it, which always happens.

Clearly, I worked one short row too many on the back side, but I think part of the bunching in back is that the sweater’s a little too wide in the shoulders. I’m hoping blocking will somehow magically fix this. [prays to knitting goddess in her little rocking chair on Olympus]

I had no idea it was called this, but Double Knit In Join changed my attitude toward color changes. Now I stripe all the time, with something like enthusiasm. I only have about five or six ends left, and there should be approximately one million given how many stripes there are.

Now: back to writing (fiction) and knitting (another hat).

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Nobody Knows the Gauges I’ve Seen June 16, 2008

Filed under: hats,mission complida,musings,pattern!,Uncategorized — reichenbachfalls @ 1:52 am
Tags: , , , ,

I have knit my third Fierce Baby Hat, and I think it is the best yet:

Best Hat

In my journey to Hat #3, I learned so many things.

Did you Know?

  • Gauge matters.

    The blue hat and the orange hat were both knit in Malabrigo Chunky. Difference: Blue Hat was knit on size 11 needles at about 3.25 stitches to the inch; Orange Hat was knit on size 10.5 needles at 3.75 stitches to the inch. Orange Hat is the perfect miscellaneous baby-size; Blue Hat fits my ridiculously large head and is even too big for my 8-year-old.

    • Yarn matters.

    The green hat is knit from ShiBui Knits Highland Wool Alpaca, a single-ply alpaca. The orange hat is Malabrigo Chunky, a three-ply merino. The hats both stretched to a similar size. Orange Hat’s stockinette portion is more elastic, “bouncing back” better after being stretched. Orange Hat’s cables are also better-defined, and hold their shape better. It’s not a value judgment — the hats just look different. As a matter of taste, I prefer Orange Hat. For hat #4 (!) I’ll use more Malabrigo Chunky.

    As someone who tends to snap up a skein of Malabrigo Chunky at a time, hoarding the individual colors just because they are pretty, this pattern is a FAT stashbuster. I had forgotten I had this much m.Chunky.

    I need to get back to my regularly-scheduled knitting, but I have been enjoying these 48-hour projects. There are more babies out there who (will eventually) need hats, so I’ll probably make two more Fierce Hats before taking a sweater break.

     

    Everything I Know I Learned Today June 13, 2008

    Filed under: hats,Knitting,mission complida,musings,pattern! — reichenbachfalls @ 11:05 pm
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    Things I learned in the last 24 hours, while casting on and completing my second Fierce Baby Hat (mostly on public transportation):

    1. The total number of double-pointed needles I have in a particular size is usually equal to (n-1), where n= the number of needles I actually need to complete whatever project I am looking for. This rule also applies in cases where I only need a single needle for I-Cord or cabling; (n – 1) will inevitably equal zero.

    2. A different gauge makes a different sized hat. Apparently, making a Fierce Hat with Malabrigo Chunky (color: Indigo) and size 11 needles produces a fabric with a gauge of 13 stitches and 20 rows over 4″, which makes an adult-sized hat that stretches to fit a 23″ head:

    big head woman

    It is too big for the watermelon, but it’s easier to see the cabling here.

    3. I can cable with no cable needle. For some reason I had forgotten this. It makes cabling with fat needles not horrible at all. (I can knit a hat with no cable needle. No cable needle. No cable needle.)

    4. If you are boarding the train late at night, whether or not you also have a stroller with a sleeping toddler in it, three shopping bags, an exhausted eight-year old, and a diaper bag containing diapers, a half-knit hat, but no wipes, always board the front car. There is a Weird Guy on every other car. Always.

    5. I changed to a circular needle after increasing. It hadn’t occurred to me until I casually did it without thinking about it. Then I used a random thing for a stitch marker because there is some other sort of mathematical rule involving stitch markers: where S equals the number of stitch markers I need, S = 0.

    6. If Lime and Violet’s Daily Chum (!!) links to your first ever pattern, you may freak out for 20 minutes. My husband can fill you in on the details.

    7. I like lists.

    Summary: The Fierce Hat for Grownups is born!! Now I need to update the original pattern to include my new knowledge.

    Notes: It takes EXACTLY one skein of Malabrigo Chunky. This is the greatest day of my life.

     

    The Sheriff of Yarn Town January 7, 2008

    Filed under: hats,Knitting,mission complida,musings — reichenbachfalls @ 5:05 pm
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    Thorpe!
    Originally uploaded by marcelory

    It was important to me to finish my 30th knitting project within 24 hours of my 30th birthday. No idea why. But I did! Ironically it’s my mother’s birthday present (her birthday is 7 days after mine).

    Stranded kitting with the yarn in each hand feels like quick-drawing Mrs. Smith & Mrs. Wesson in the middle of a dusty town square, facing off the ultimate evils of Tangling and Just General Failing again and again. I am the Sheriff of Yarn Town, a badass using her bad ass powers for good.

    I want to strand everything now, just like I wanted to cable everything before. Perhaps I will strand and cable everything. And knit these fantasy items with Malabrigo.

    Even Malabrigo’s color names are beautiful. The colors in the hat are called Marron Oscuro and Indigo. Glazed Carrot. Burgundy, a deep red with which I will make my first Foliage hat after the Birthday Month is over. Lettuce, a bright spring green that will become a chunky sweater. Rhodesian, the red-brown-orange units making up my stalled Arwen sweater. Paris Night, Rosa Viejo, Tuareg, Olive, Cognac come to me off the top of my head. All are deep, rich colors that imbue my knitted items with a sense of mystery, at least while I’m knitting them.

    I’ve been trying to live in color more over the last few years. Malabrigo yarns provide infinite opportunities for me to do so while luxuriating in surprisingly affordable softness. Thanks guys!

     

    Nice Round Birthday Number January 5, 2008

    Filed under: hats,Knitting — reichenbachfalls @ 10:01 pm

    Thorpe

    Originally uploaded by marcelory

    30 today.

    I think it’s my first grownup birthday age. I spent my birthday doing things I love:

    — Spending a big gift certificate at Imagiknit (yay for husbands).

    — Knitting my first stranded knitting on the couch in an untidy room while my children played and another adult was in charge/made spice coffee

    — Seeing Sweeney Todd with my favorite grownup (dinner AND a movie AND Alan Rickman!)

    — Managing to eat a delicious French-Japanese fusion dinner despite needing a shower after Sweeney Todd (so much blahhhhd)

    I’m working on Thorpe. It is the smallest hat in the world.
    Normally, I would think gauge was the problem. However, today is My Birthday. All my knitting automatically gets gauge. Also toast always falls jelly side up.

    I can’t believe I’m two-handed stranded knitting. I feel so ridiculously competent, even though the whole time I’m faintly worried the knitting is just going to explode. Teaching myself new knitting skills that I couldn’t have imagined doing a year ago gives me a nice shot of testosterone. Next, I’ll be steeking.

    Big birthday ups to Capricorns everywhere. I probably shouldn’t have gotten the wine pairing with dinner, but may I just say that Journey is frickin’ awesome?

     

    Writing, knitting January 3, 2008

    Filed under: hats,Knitting,musings — reichenbachfalls @ 5:09 am
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    Gang of Two
    Originally uploaded by marcelory

    I love this knitting, I do, I do.

    I have always hung back at the edges of the crafty crowd, awed by their powers but certain I could never create what they did. I used to watch a kid in my class (okay, my first crush) draw anything he imagined in the margins of his math book. I looked on enviously as the cool girls made friendship bracelets. I crumpled the pathetic drawings of the princesses in my head and wrote about them instead.

    Writing, you see, was what I did. It was how I got even with the crafters. I couldn’t paint pictures or sculpt or bake or knit, but I could paint sunsets with words, sculpt the perfect sentence. Writing is knitting with letters and a pen. I was not a crafter — even though I read craft books enviously. I was a writer.

    I majored in creative writing, then started graduate school in English, then finished with honors, all the time writing. I drew closer to finishing my first novel. Then, with my second child, post-partum depression fell upon me like a mail curtain. With the first baby, writing got me through the darkness of early parenthood. With the second, the words wouldn’t come.

    A friend had tried to teach me knitting when I was beached by pregnancy bedrest. I opened the book she gave me. Half in a daze, I went to Craft Chain Conglomerate, bought a skein of Wool-Ease and some size 15 needles, and laboriously knitted the chunkiest, ugliest, most lopsided, scratchiest scarf ever.

    Then I wrote a chapter.

    Over the past few years, the writing has had its starts and stops, but the knitting flows on. I have another creative outlet, one that engages all my senses, and I’m so proud I can do this. It is not perfect, but it’s my craft.

    I guess I should have known this would work. After all, knitting is just writing with needles and a ball of yarn.

    P.S.: this is a picture of the Gang of Under Three wearing their Clara Hats. Time to cast on the third one!

     

    Little Green Man December 28, 2007

    Filed under: babies,hats,Knitting,mission complida — reichenbachfalls @ 4:36 am
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    Little Green Man

    Originally uploaded by marcelory

    I am damn proud of this hat. Why, you ask? It doesn’t involve super-complicated techniques. It only took four or five hours total to make, including weaving in two little ends. Most of the beauty in the hat is conveyed through my beloved Malabrigo Chunky, which I love almost as much as I love cheese. It’s not even the first version of the pattern, called “Clara” from Hip Knit Hats, that I’ve ever made. (It’s my third!) Admittedly, it does adorn the oversized head of my very favorite toddler, but come on! Why am I playing favorites with this FO?

    Answer: I have no idea. Maybe it’s that I love fast, symmetrical projects. Maybe it’s that this project taught me the Middle Eastern cast-on, which makes me sound worldly and keeps me from having to seam anything. Maybe it’s that it uses exactly one skein of my favorite yarn, so I can take $12 and make something that, at least to me, looks like a million bucks. Or, I dunno, maybe it’s that the yarn is almost the same color as my favorite toddler’s eyes.

    Who can explain love? Even the sages failed.

    As soon as I’m done with my term paper (aiee) I’m going to knit two of these in rapid succession for late holiday gifts to clothe the heads of the Pie’s friends. Then they’ll have their own little Gang of Under Three Feet. Aww!