April 30, 2009

Fair Isle Fiasco

Three years ago (or so) I saw this fair isle sweater kit on the Knit Picks website and bugged everyone I knew to get it for me as a gift. Aylin O. answered the call and I got the kit for me as a Christmas gift. Back then, I poured over the directions - read them a few times - just because I'd never done fair isle before and I wanted to give it a try.

I read every instruction, read all about the body tube, the sleeve steeks, the center steek, the fat or slim sleeves, everything. I KNEW what to expect, I'd read it all. Unfortnately, that was three years ago.

I know how it all went so wrong. After a 3 year visit at the frog meditation pond, my interest in reading the directions again was UNNECESSARY since I'd already done so. Yep, that's what I said - already done so. And after three years I only glanced over them. I read just enough to reinforce my fear of steeking.

As a consequence, the fair isle sweater has taken a step (or 10) backwards. My philosophy on knitting is that sometimes it goes forward and sometimes it goes backwards. I, personally, am not averse to ripping something back - in moderation, of course. If you know my history, then you know what happened with the sleeves of the Must Have Cardigan (my blog 12/3/08).

I was almost done knitting the tube which I heartily bragged about and this project was pretty much flying off the needles. I was ready to laugh in the face of the folks who were afraid for me, who said that I had taken on too big a project to be giving fair isle a "try". It's just knitting. What's the big deal?

Well, I was about to bind off the top of the tube so I referred back to the directions. And sure enough, what I was supposed to do was stop knitting the tube at 14" to add stitches for the sleeves. You know, just so one sleeve isn't too far back or too far forward causing me to walk with my arms swinging in an unnatural way.

So, I had to rip back a few hundred rows.

No problem. I just pulled the needle out, and prayed that I'd be able to recapture all 330 stitches.

I tell the ladies in my class all the time, read the directions! Read them through and make sure you know what you're supposed to be doing and I didn't even do that myself.

Sometimes I make my own self sick.

April 27, 2009

Saturday Morning Knitting Club

Last week at knitting circle I announced there would be a test, and there was. I told the ladies that the only requirement was that they had to have been in the class for at least a year - that way no one would have a clear advantage.

So I went to class with some tools: straws, a hanger, a ruler, a paint brush, a spatula and various other tools, and I had the ladies reach into the bag and grab 2 things. All they had to do was cast on 5 stitches and knit 5 rows and whoever was done (or close) in 3 minutes was the winner.

Joanne had a seasoning brush (the kind used to spread barbecue sauce) and a straw:

Carol had a straw and a paint brush:
Winnie had a measuring spoon (with a slit at the top) and a hanger:

Carmen had a serving spoon and a straw:

I was laughing so hard I could barely take pictures! It was fun-nee! That's probably why I missed getting a picture of Yvonne (so sorry!). She got stuck with a ruler and a straw.

The winner was Carol! Congratulations! She won this lovely entrelac scarf made by me in near record time using size US #9 needles and 3 skeins of Patons SWS in natural violet. Three days to knit, 2 days to block (and fortunately no mistakes).

I wasn't the only one with a finished object to show.

Cynthia made this lovely shrug, and her daughter was nice enough to model it off. She's a beautiful young lady and the shrug looks great on her.

And Winnie made this lovely outfit for a co-worker named Monique who is having a baby. It's crochet: a hat, dress, bloomers and booties. Lovely.

So a good time was had by all. I think I had more fun than they did since I got to watch and laugh! That's so wrong.

Maybe next year I'll have a better test. I'm wracking my brain right now ...

April 23, 2009

Here's Where I Am

The fair isle project has been temporarily put on the back burner because last week at knitting circle I told the ladies that there would be a test of skill and nerve. The first question after I opened my big mouth was, "What do we win?" Well, I hadn't thought that far ahead, silly me.

So, I rummaged through my stash and found 6 skeins of Patons SWS (shown here in natural violet) and decided that I'd use those and make a prize. I was going to try to use all of it, but I think I'm only going to be able to use 3 skeins (too bad!) of it. And since I can't show the prize, I'll just show you what's left of the last skein which I plan to use up tonight:

I'll show you what the prize, and hopefully who won it, by the weekend.

Next on the list is sweater. While it is currently on the back burner, I am up to here:

Only two sections left before I start on the sleeves and build up my courage to steek. I've decided if I can make it though this, I can probably make it through any knitting challenge. My friend T said she'd never do it and asked me why I was.

I explained to her that my knitting style is to challenge myself and after all these years of knitting, this is where I am. It's mind boggling what I put myself through since knitting is supposed to be a stress reliever and a sit down relaxing good time. Believe it or not, I am having a good time.

Lastly, I'm going with my friend Sojourn Knitting to my very first spinning class on May 6th. In anticipation of the training and a serious boost in my skill level, I purchased some roving. My hope is that the class will help me to spin what I want and not just take what I get. The pink one is merino, the rest are Falkland (which I've never used before ) and they're softer than soft.

Lastly, I'm going to head out the the Maryland sheep & wool festival on May 2nd and I'm all kinds of excited! This is my first time going and I have visions of coming home with enough roving to spin myself enough yarn for a sweater. I've got my eye on the Garter Yoke Cardigan.

OK, I have to get back to knitting before I turn into a pumpkin at midnight!

April 18, 2009

(Mostly) Finished!

Today at knitting circle, the ladies had their fair share of finished objects to show off with pride. Any time a project gets finished, there's always lots of 'ohs' and 'ahs' because everyone appreciates the time and effort that went into it. Good job ladies!

Winnie finished her baby bib and Yvonne finished her Patons slippers:

Good job ladies!

Carol finished her slippers as well:

They're lovely!

Winnie is almost finished her first slipper (pink) and Carmen R. is almost done with her first slipper as well (grey):

Keep up the good work ladies, you're getting there and doing great!

And while I finished absolutely nothing and feared boring you all to death with my fair isle project, decided to show you how much further I have to go before I finish the body part of my sweater before I get to the cutting part. I am here:

I'd like to thank Maria (who offered to sew while I cut), Aylin (who offered to cut if I sew) and Celtic Memory (who told me I am capable of doing the whole thing by myself) for their kind words of encouragement.

Just know this: I am going to do it when the time comes, but if I screw it up you will smell gasoline and see the flames on the road near my house. I mean it this time!

April 10, 2009

On Knitting

When I first picked up my knitting needles, I had no idea I would love knitting as much as I do now. I thought of it as a hobby, along with the other hobbies I tried while growing up. I took up knitting and crochet, sewing, needlepoint and cross stitch.

It never dawned on me then that knitting would become my hobby of choice and that I would spend so much time and money on it as I do. Did I ever forsee that I would give up all of my Woolworth's acrylic off-color yarn at $1.00 per skein and take up with natural wools and cottons and soy yarns? No, I had no idea.

I was happily oblivious of where I'd end up as a knitter when I was happily making multi-colored odd shaped potholders and trivets. I had no shame when I tied my dropped stitches in knots on the squares. I gave no thought to the fact that ends were supposed to be woven and that my potholders were fire hazards. Up to now, I'd try anything with regard to knitting.

Who knew that I'd be willing to give up food (cooking), water (dishes, laundry & mopping floors) and sleep (really, I have) just to get a little knitting in? I didn't know. Now hundreds of projects and more than 4o years later, I'm still at it. Still loving it.

So, what knitting sacrifice am I struggling over making that has me fairly paralyzed with fear and trembling in my knitted slippers?

One word: steeking. Am I really supposed to cut this right down the front AND twice more for sleeves?

Somebody help me! The bigger this piece gets, the more fear I have. I need help.

Anyone out there who knows how to steek, please offer me words of comfort and/or advice, or send me your address so I can farm this sweater out and get it back in ready-to-wear condition!

April 09, 2009

April Fool

This morning when I stepped out of my house I was surprised to see this:

My beautiful yellow daffodils sprouted out of the ugly (still brown) grass while the gray sky in the Bronx threatens them with frost or snow. The sun was shining kind of brightly (across the street from my house) when I snapped the picture, and I thought how lovely it is to see the first signs of Spring because it still feels like November (34 degrees Fahrenheit this morning)!

I hope my poor scrawny premature flowers didn't spring too soon and will fail to produce flowers when the weather really does get nice. I think they got tricked by the sunshine into thinking that was enough to make it Springtime, like I did.

Personally, I am ready for the weather to change since I find Spring is the perfect season for showing off hand knit goods. This is the perfect time to wear a lightweight sweater, or one with short sleeves, or the shawl that didn't seem big enough for anything would be perfect as a defense against the air conditioning on the subway.

This is when my creative juices get going because Spring is also the best time for me to knit. It's just the right temperature, not too hot or cold, for working with yarn.

It won't be long now before I sitting on my front steps knitting in natural sunlight. And I won't be tricked by sunshine that doesn't produce warmth.

April 08, 2009

So, What Have You Been Doing?

There's been a whole lot of stealth knitting going on in my world these days. I did finish one thing, and I managed to make a bird's nest out of the Bird's Nest pattern I'm working on. So it's sitting by the frog pond until it resolves its issues with me.

It's a really fast knit if you don't screw up.

To break up the monotony, I pulled out the fair isle project which went from this:

to this in two days:

It's been on my needles for years. It's a fast knit and I wondered why I left it dormant for so long. Then I remembered. Steeking. The idea of knitting the entire sweater as a tube and then cutting it with scissors is more scary than crashing my car into a pole. Fear and knitting do NOT go together.

Meanwhile, I have other burning issues. My son will be 16 at the end of the month. He's so handsome and charming that it's hard to believe some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth.

Tell me, based on these statements, if you can count how many arrows are in my heart:

"I don't need to go to college to be a rap star."

"Plenty of my friends don't have their license and they drive. Why can't I?"

"I need more paint markers so I can work on my tag before I take it to the street. (Note: a tag is a graffiti term that represents your signature on the side of a train or building. It's illegal.) "I swear, Mom, I won't get caught by the cops - and if I do, I'll tell them not to call you. I'll just stay in juvenile hall."

"These braces made my lips change. They're juicy (fuller) now. That's the kind of lips girls like to kiss." Have you been kissing? I asked. "Duh!" was the answer.

Somebody tell me, where did I go wrong?