Knitting Slumps

I am in a knitting slump. I am feeling frustrated with a couple of projects on which I am working. Last night I was sitting on my deck ready to work on a project I am hoping to offer as a class this fall. I heard someone say “oh no” then” No, No” and then I smelt a very strong skunk smell. I think my neighbour startled the skunk that lives somewhere in our neighbourhood. So then I had to move everything inside.I love sitting outside in the summer an knitting. I really don’t like having to be inside when the weather is nice.  I worked part of a row and realized I had used the wrong colour so I frogged it. Then I had difficulty figuring out which colours and in what order I was supposed to knit. I knit a row and I was not enjoying it and it was taking forever. I don’t like the yarn I am knitting with and I just feel frustrated. I don’t know whether to give up or keep going. I could finish off some socks but even that has little appeal at the moment. I have some hats I need to finish for someone but they are not my favourite pattern.

On the weekend I organized my needles as they were a mess and I thought it might inspire me to do some knitting. So my needles are all neatly put into a forms cabinet which works perfectly for them. It is a cabinet that has thin drawers that were used to hold legal forms. It looks like the the top section of this cabinet. I have a drawer for my DPN, for each length of circular needle and my straight knitting needles as well as a drawer for my crochet hooksUnfortunately it is in our garage at the moment because I have not figured out where the best spot in the house would be. Some day I hope to have a whole room devoting to my knitting.

We have some beautiful new yarns in the store now and I would love to knit with them but I feel I need to finish what I have already started. Maybe next I need to go through my stash and that will kick start my knitting urge.I think one finished object would make me feel happier with my knitting. I love seeing what our customers are knitting. It often leaves me itching to pick up my needles. Here is one of the new sock yarns we got in- I think I may use it for my next sock class if there is any left.

I do have a long car ride coming up soon and that is always a good place for me to get some knitting done. Hopefully I can fix this knitting slum and get knitting again.

I CAN Crochet

If you had asked me  a month ago can you crochet? I would have said, I am more of a knitter than a crocheter. I have tried to crochet and just not been able to do it quickly and gone back to my knitting. I know how to do a single, a double, a triple and I can read the pattern to help someone with the pattern, but I have never done anything more than a dishcloth. I would try and just not be able to do it. Everyone told me how crochet was so much faster- obviously they never saw me crochet. To add to my crocheting woes, I am left handed and just couldn’t quite get it right.

Ziggy round 21

Well I have embarked on my first actual crochet pattern and I didn’t just pick a simple hat or shawl. I jumped right in with a blanket that starts with a mandela and works out into a square. A 96″ x 96″ square blanket. There are over a hundred rounds and each round is different. It was a pattern I saw that intrigued me. I wanted to do it.

Ziggy round 33

I am going stitch by stitch and round by round and it is coming along quite nicely. I am learning a lot and am gaining confidence in my ability to crochet. I can now say I CAN crochet. Sometimes we talk ourselves out of doing things saying we can’t do it. How are we going to learn if we don’t at least try? As long as you are enjoying the process, that is all that is important. You don’t need to be the best or the fastest. Our hobbies are about giving us something we can do that give us pleasure. It is a bonus that with knitting and crocheting we get a useful finished project as opposed to say stamp collecting or some other hobby.

Sometimes we use excuses – like I am left handed so it is too hard to figure out how to do it from all the right-handed pictures. I think we just need to find the right project, the one that inspires us to keep going. A lot of people ask me what is it I should make now that I can knit and purl. I always ask what do they want to make and what type of knitting is it that drew them to knitting. Do you like fair isle? Cables? Entrelac? Then that is what you should try. You don’t have to start with something complicated. Was it a certain yarn that you liked the colour of? Then get that yarn and knit with it because it gives you joy, not because someone said that it was appropriate for a beginner. I didn’t decide – this is my first crochet project so I am going to use the cheapest yarn possible, I chose a yarn with which I thought I would enjoy working. Life is too short to use crappy yarn or knit or crochet something because someone tells you it is what you should do.

Crochet versus Knitting

Crocheters often gets the short stick ( or is that hook?). People often assume that all yarn work is knitting. Those who know, can see there is a big difference between knitting and crochet. It can drive a crocheter crazy if you call her handiwork knitting. Most of us have a preference for one over the other, although many can do both. Both crafts have their pros and cons.

Crocheting tends to create a denser fabric so it tends not to be as nice as a knit garment, but it makes crocheting great for toys. Crocheting, some say is much faster, so it is great for making larger items like afghans which can take a long time to knit. Crocheting is great for making lacy items which is why it is often seem as a trim on knit items. With crocheting it is much easier to change the direction of your work. In knitting, to change direction means having to pick up stitches or attaching separate pieces after you are done knitting.

As far as equipment goes, crocheting has knitting beat as far as not needing as many accoutrements. If you take a look at our stock of needles and hooks, far more real estate is devoted to knitting needles than there is to crochet hooks. Knitting needles come in double points of various lengths, straight needles in different lengths, circular needles in various lengths, interchangeable and fixed and metal, carbon, wood or plastic. Crochet hooks on the hand come in wood or metal and Tunisian or regular. To crochet in the round you only need the basic crochet hook unlike knitting where you either need double points or circulars. Most crocheted items can be made with only the simple crochet hook unless you want your crocheting to look more like knitting when you would need a Tunisian or afghan hook. Knitters tend to have multiples of their favourite size needle because if you are knitting more than one project at a time you need multiple needles. Crocheter can just put a stitch marker in their last loop and take their hook and start a new project.

When you make a mistake in knitting you may need to rip out multiple rows which may mean taking all your stitches off the needle and then having to make sure you get then all back on properly. In crochet you rip back to the mistake and pick up 1 loop and you are on your way again. In knitting it is possible to fix some mistakes by just dropping the stitch down to the mistake and correcting it. This is not possible with crochet.

There are definitely a lot more commercially available patterns for knitting than there are for crochet. I think in Canada, knitting is much more popular than crocheting. In the States, there seems to be more interest in crocheting than there is in Canada. If you are not comfortable working without a pattern then maybe knitting is the more practical choice for you. I think in the end it comes down to personal preference. Some prefer the look of crochet and some the look of knitting. Whichever you prefer, there are so many beautiful yarns in so many colourways that you will never have to worry about not finding something wonderful to knit or crochet.

 

Cestari Yarn for Spring

We have just received our new shipment of cotton yarn from Cestari yarns. We have two different cotton yarns – Ashland which is a 75% cotton and 25% wool blend. It is made exclusively with Virginia-grown cotton and blended with Cestari’s Natural White Traditional Wool. This yarn is very soft feeling. It is marked as a DK yarn but the gauge given on the ball band is more consistent with a worsted weight. We have it in grey and white.

Cestari Ashland

The second yarn we have from Cestari is their Monticello. It is a 75% cotton and 25% linen blend. The cotton grown in Virginia and the linen is imported from France.  The yarn is kettle dyed so each skein has subtle colour changes within the ball making for a more interesting knit. We have a rainbow of colours to choose from in the Monticello yarn. We have 10 colours in stock, from red to purple but also in cream and grey for the not so adventurous. The yarn will hold its shape well, making it well suited for garments such as summer tees. It would also be beautiful as a summer shawl.

Cestari Monticello

Both yarns can be machine washed in cold water but make sure to lay flat to dry. Cotton does not have any elasticity so it is important not to hang a wet cotton garment or it will stretch. The Ashland has wool in which the lanolin has not been removed so you do not want dry clean it as this would remove the lanolin.

If you have not tried any of the Cestari yarns (http://www.cestarisheep.com/ yet, these would be perfect yarns to try. We also have two wool yarns from Cestari – the Tradition and Mount Vernon collections. The Mount Vernon is 100% merino which has not had the lanolin removed so it retains all those qualities that we love in wool while also being soft. The Tradition is a Targhee Columbia so it is not as soft as a merino but it makes great hats and has great stitch definition.

Many people do not associate spring and summer with knitting but with these cotton and blend yarns you can make some beautiful summer garments. Who doesn’t need a gorgeous wrap for those cool summer evenings? Come in and try a skein or two of these great yarns!

Last Minute Knitting Ideas

How is it that every year I plan to knit ahead of time so that I am not feeling rushed in December but here it is December again and I haven’t finished any of my Christmas knitting? Heck I haven’t even finished the shawl I started in July. Does that mean I won’t be giving any knitted items this Christmas? Nope, it just means I have to plan all my hours and modify my knitting plans. I have 2 pairs of socks that I am giving as presents both of which are almost finished – one needs a toe and the other a heel and leg. No problem to get those done. I promised my husband in September I would make him a cowl so that will now be his Christmas present. Luckily it is a chunky yarn. I still haven’t decided what pattern to use but I am not too worried about that. The other pair of socks I thought I would give I think has now been put off and will be a February birthday present. I found some super chunky ( like knit on a 25mm needle chunky) that I will make into a cowl for someone else – sorry, not the gloves I had thought I was giving. I did find a couple almost finished hats while looking through my stash so maybe those will be presents too. There see it is not so bad as I thought.

So what are some good last minute items that you might still have time to fit in? We have a couple super chunky yarns – Hygge and Lalala which could be used to whip up a superchunky blanket in no time. Or use it to make a cat mat or seat cushion that would only take 1 skein.If super chunky yarn isn’t your thing, try a pair of fingerless gloves. You can make a pair out of worsted weight yarn and you only need about 80 m to make a pair. They are great for texting. I like to wear mine with a pair of dollar store gloves underneath. You can use coordinating coloured gloves to go with the fingerless gloves so they will match any coat.

With pompoms being all the rage, you could knit a hat with a pompom. We have a yarn called Lady that is a chunky yarn that comes with the pattern for a hat and the matching pompom. It is knit in the round with 16″ 8 mm needles so you could easily knit a hat in an evening.If you were thinking of knitting someone a sweater but ran out of time, why not knit them a miniature sweater with a note saying you will knit them a full size one. The miniature could them be used as a Christmas ornament. I did this one year for my husband.You could also drop hints that you would love to receive that special luxury skein of yarn. A skein of beautiful Biscotte and Cie or Sweet Georgia yarn is always nice. Or Manos Alegria or Malabrigo are both beautiful yarns. Maybe you have been longing to try a couple of skeins of Shibui. If you don’t trust them to pick the right colour, a new set of needles or a yarn bowl is another nice idea. Let your friends and family know that they can find the perfect gift for you at Rose’s Fine Yarns!

I Finished!

So those of you who read my blog know that I have a problem finishing what I start.  I see a new yarn or project and I am off in another direction. Squirrel! Well, you will be happy to know that I have actually finished a few projects.

I took a few things on vacation with me to knit. Okay, I think I took 7 or 8 projects that I thought I might work on. Of those I finished only one. Sorry market bag and socks I will finish you soon but I had all this pretty other yarn.

I finished my helical hat. That is probably because I needed to see how it worked up because I am teaching a helical hat class in the fall. http://www.rosesfineyarns.com/classes/

I made good progress on the baby blanket I am knitting using Juniper Moon Farm Cumulus.  I am pretty sure I will have that one done by the end of the month.  The yarn is so soft.  I think I will be able to get a blanket out of 2 skeins. That will be a sample for the store. It always help to see how the yarn knits up.

I started a hat but didn’t get too far but I think it will only take a few more hours to finish. Maybe if I knew who I was going to give it to, I might work a little faster.

My Find Your Fade is taking forever. I spent 20 hours working on it and I think I may only be a third of the way done. I added a new colour but I hate it and am going to rip it out but I have figured out which yarns I will use instead.I started to crochet a dish cloth but hated it and ripped it out. I thought about giving it another try but I had this really pretty sock yarn I wanted to try out. I never got to it either.

When I got back my husband asked me to knit a pair of baby booties for his hairdresser who had a baby at the beginning of the summer. Actually he asked me two nights before his hair appointment at dinner.  After dinner we went shopping for a birthday present for our son so I didn’t get any knitting done that night. That left me with one evening to knit the booties. Sorry Dougan, no walk for you. I have to knit. The booties turned out really cute and I might do a class on them because there are no seams and you can make them in an evening!

So I guess I better get back to the market bag, socks, shawl….