Thursday, October 26, 2006

Why Do You Knit?

I'm sure many of you guys listen to podcast, particularly ones about knitting. One of my favorite podcast is Brenda Dayne's Cast On.

I love the show because she just has a soothing voice. I usually fast foward thru the music, but I love the stories and ideas that she shares with thousands of people (in one episode she said she got over 7000 downloads. Now whether those are all unique, we may never know). Usually I agree with her on a lot of issues when it comes to the fiber arts but there is just one thing that I and Brenda do not agree on.

Brenda sees knitting as a form of fighting mass production, a component of post-modern western civilization that shuns creativity and supports conformity. In Brenda's mind, all knitters are saying "Fuck You" to clothing manufacturers when they pick up their needles and create something unique with their hands. The only problem is, though, is that I don't think all knitters like to knit for this reason. If anything, a substantial amount of knitters knit in order to create items that they saw in a store.

Let's think about it. Would you waste your time knitting this and then actually wear it, or would you want to dedicate your free time to something more tasteful like this? For me, knitting isn't about being off the wall. It's about making stuff that me and my loved ones would actually wear. Besides, in my opinion, true creativity is a delicate balance between novelty and usefulness. Something is not creative if it is useless and this new "surprise" from Knitty is just that -- useless.


Lately, I've been enjoying the process in knitting more than the actual stuff. I had to say that because when I started to knit, I was a full fledged product knitter. I knitted because I wanted sweaters that fit me, cool accesories and the handmade gifts for my friends. Now, however, school and work really stress me out, to the point where I was breaking down in the shower crying this past Tuesday (wow, I just got very personal with you guys). Knitting means so much more to me now that I don't have much time to do it anymore. And because my knitting time is very limited nowadays, I appreciate knitting so much more than I did when I first entered the craft 2 years ago. If I wasn't a knitter, I don't know what I'd do with myself nor my free time. What I do know is that if I were not a knitter, my life would be something not like it is right now. That scares me. Thankfully, knitting has helped me create the life that I want to live. And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

FO Central

So here are some pics of my finished projects:

The satchel is not sewn up yet but in my mind, it's done. The scarf is definetely done. I accidently knitted only 9 of the 10 required repeats of the pattern, and my type A personality wanted to rip the bind off and continue, but my boyfriend reassured me that the scarf looked fine and did not need anymore alteration. That's good, because I have more interesting things to knit:

I finally got the back done sunday night and I'm flying up the left side. This knit is surprisingly fast. Hopefully I'll have the two fronts done this week and start the sleeves this weekend.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Lacy Finds

Thank you everyone for the advice on lace knitting. After careful thought, I decided to go with the Swallowtail Shawl (the 10th photo on page) in the current issue of Interweave Knits.

So this past Saturday night, after I went to this fabulous Indian restaurant with my boyfriend and his brother to celebrate my boyfriend's 27th brithday, we headed over to my favorite place to get lost in, Barnes & Nobles and picked up this bad boy:

Truthfully, I've been eyeing it ever since it came out. But I waited because I had already gotten several magazines of the season, (Vogue Knitting Fall 2006, Knit It Fall 2006, KnitScene Fall 2006), all containing projects I want to knit in the future. But now that I think about it, there are a lot of projects in IK this Fall that I would love to knit and eventually wear.

I really like magazines. They are really economical, especially if you subscribe. You get (excuse my french but) ASS-LOADS of patterns from top designers for a fraction of the cost of buying a book that costs 4 maybe even 5 times the price and only has 1 or 2 things you like. If you only like 1 or 2 things in a magazine, it's not as wasteful of a buy than if you liked 1 or 2 things in a book. But I digress.

Of all the patterns in this current issue, I was not at all interested in the shawl until someone pointed me to this finished one. He is something with that camera, isn't he? His picture made the lace look ever more tempting to knit. That picture evoked so many euphoric emotions in me. I wanted to eat the damn thing for goodness sakes (I say that because I LOVE food). May I be bold in saying that Interweave should really hire him to do their photography? I swear their sales would more than double if he was the photographer of their already wonderful magazine.

So when I go home, I read thru the pattern (becuase when it comes to my knitting, I don't like surprises, or rather the unpleasant surprises). Then I ran into a problem with all the charts (I prefer my knitting pattern in words, not charts). After careful review, however, I finally figured it out, and now I can cast on without worry.

No, I haven't started yet. I'm so focused on the CPH that I haven't been knitting anything else (well, when I'm home at least. I still have a sock for boring classes). But, when I do start, I'll make sure to update you guys.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What I've Been Doing

It seems as if everyone is knitting the CPH. You got to check out Meg's and Gray's CPHs. They both use different colors than what I'm using but they are still very unique and beautiful.

As for my CPH, progress is slow. I don't have a picture yet. I haven't even measured the thing, but I think I'm halfway up the back. School this past weekend proved to be a vacuum of knitting time. Thankfully the forecast for this weekend is looking at clear time for hours and hours of knitting fun!


This part unfortunately has no pictures. I finished my Wavy and failed at felting my Satchel fully. So this weekend, I will try again with the felting.

More Christmas Knitting

So with two Christmas gifts done, I'm thinking about what I should do for my mother. Back in August, I went to Stitches Midwest and bought some really nice alpaca I believe in a sock or DK weight. It is a natural cream color and gloriously soft. I have over 675 yards of it. I'm thinking maybe I should make my mother something lacy like a shawl. This would be my first lacy project ever. I've knit lace patterns before in socks and vests but never a real lace shawl.

So here are the questions: Is alpaca ideal for a first lace project? Do I have enough yarn to make a substantially sized shawl? Do you guys have suggestions for a pattern? Can I really make a lace shawl in 2 months? Should I just stick to something small like gloves or mittens but still incorporate a lace pattern?

I hope that you guys would be able to help me. Have fun at Rhinebeck those that are going. I'll try and make the trip next year when I have more time and money to do so.

As always, Happy Knitting Everyone!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Chicago, Shakespeare and Yarn

This past Wednesday, I had the opportunity to watch a production of Shakespeare's Hamlet performed at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Really, it was a requirement of one of my classes to go see this play. I'm glad I went. I've read some of Shakespeare's other plays like Macbeth and have seen numerous movies based in his plays (10 Things I Hate About You for example is a modern twist on Taming of the Shrew a comedy). One of my goals in life is to read more of Shakespheare's plays and possibly watch more of his plays being performed live every once in awhile.

So what does a knitter with 2 hours of free time before a play starts do in a city she's never been before? She finds a yarn store and buys something! Here's what I got:

Both are cascade yarns. I could not resist the blood redness of the 2 balls above. I'm planning on making some fingerless gloves or maybe even some mittens but whatever this becomes, it has to have cables! The pink yarn was an impulse buy. I got it because I simply loved the color. In fact I love all bright and bold colors like eggplant purple, lime green, dark navy, cheerful yellow, and or course my favorite blood red. My stash reflects this eclectic taste in colors and I'm happy with it.

The name of the store that I got the yarn from is Loopy Yarns. The owner was a cheerful woman who complemented the scarf I was wearing (flattery is a good way to sell yarn BTW). The store is cozy filled with tons of yarns not available at my LYS (like Lorna's Laces). I think if I get to go back to Chicago again, I will head over to Loopy Yarns anyday (even if they aren't open so I could marvel at the beautiful fibers).

How Smart Am I?
Yesterday on the bus ride to Chicago, I bought my Wavy scarf to work on. When I pulled it out of my bag, I was all ready to go when I realized that I had forgotten the pattern in my apartment. I cursed under my breath for a moment seeing that I didn't have a back up project. So I did something pretty advanced to my standards. I had remembered the first 8 rows of the pattern and so counted my rows and then read my stitches. I read where all the purls went and where all the knits went. After about 20 minutes of this, I had written out what I thought my pattern would have said. Lo and behold, I figured out the pattern just by reading the stitches on the scarf. My plan worked! Knitting on the bus was smooth after that.

I mentioned this story to you guys because what I did amazed me. After 2 years and 3 months of being a knitter, I was astonished to discover how advanced I've become. Not to big myself up but I'm still patting myself on the back for what I did yesterday on a rickety old school bus (fortunately it wasn't a "cheese bus" as we say in New York City, but everything about the bus including all the bouncing and hard upright seats were the same).

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever done something so spectacular that it amazes you how talented of a knitter you are? Let me know.


The freak hail/snow storm that has hit Michigan today is making me want to knit even more hats, socks, and scarves to combat winter chill. I wish I were knitting the Central Park Hoodie as fast as this blooger, but I had many mid-terms to study for this week. I will work on the hoodie this weekend and hopefully have some pictures to show you guys next week.

So from me to you, happy knitting everyone!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I Love My LYS!

This past Saturday after a 4-hour long study session in the library, I headed over to my LYS. The name of the store is Ivelise's Yarn Shop and it's been there for over 43 years! The owner, and woman named Ivelise, is from Cuba (must have came to the USA before Castro was made president/dictator of Cuba) and is turning 82 in a few months! The store is very spacious with a funny and helpful staff and a big table in the middle of it so that people could sit and knit and be merry. The majority of the customers are women (the only men I've ever seen in the store were my boyfriend who is a knitter and a repairman), and the yarns are beautiful. The store doesn't charge for lessons or offer classes that you would have to pay for, from what I understand (but I've never been interested in sitting in on a knitting lesson anyway). The prices are pretty reasonable and the atmosphere is relaxing.

But the reasons above are not why I continue to buy from this store. Yeah the prices are fair but I could get better deals online for many of the yarns my LYS carries (I could even get free shipping at some websites). Also there is the fact that the Internet offers more variety than any one brick and mortar store can give you simply because you have access to more than one venue online. There's also a ton of great free patterns to choose from online and all you got to do is sit naked (or dressed whichever you prefer) in front of your computer and click around for a couple minutes. The possibilities are somewhat endless on the Internet when it comes to knitting.

Still, there is just something about a brick and mortar store that you can't get from a online one. For example, one to one advice. On the Internet, you're not guaranteed that you'll find the info that you'll need (or correct information for that matter). A book store filled with knitting books is just as confusing seeing that you would have to thumb thru each and every technique book about knitting till you found your problem and solution to it. The only thing that would guarantee that you get the best solution to your problem is going to an expert and physical knitting stores are chock full of them.

There's also the social aspect of knitting that I'm just in love with. Blogs are great for getting to know perfect strangers through the eyes of our craft but there's nothing like actually seeing another person knit in front of you. It's reassuring to know that I'm not the only person in the world that's obsessed with knitting.

In my opinion, physical yarn stores will never be fully replaced by virtual ones. I think of it this way: people still live in physical houses, though we are knee deep in the Internet era of the world. People aren't going to stop building supermarkets just because everyone is buying their groceries online (at least I don't think). People aren't going to stop living in physical houses and replace them with virtual homes on the Internet (they'd have a vitual home but they wouldn't have a bed to sleep in or a toliet to piss in). And yeah maybe one day we can all do our shopping online but vendors must have a physical address to send them to. The day you can send a mattress to, is the day that all physical stores, including those that sell yarn, will no longer exist.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Lonely Sock Gains a Partner

Here's a little magic trick.

One Sock

*Poof* Two Socks

I got around to grafting the toe yesterday in chapel (I attend a religious university, click here if you are interested in knowing more about it). I am very happy with the results. The short row toes and heels hug my feet in all the right places. I plan on making more socks this way in the future.

I've been reading around on the Blogsphere lately a substantial amount of knit bloggers are writing about their "Sock History" (the two I've found most interesting can be found here and here. I won't go into mine here, seeing that 4 pairs socks in 2 years of being a knitter won't be interesting content for this blog. I do, however, have a question that maybe you guys could help me with. Is it necesssary to block socks like you would a sweater and if so when is it appropiate to do so? I know that many people have professional sock shapers or even cheap homemade ones made out of metal hangers but I'm not sure if that is what I should be doing too. Any answers? I would really like to know.

Q & A

Nik asked me in the comments of my last post what type of Addi Turbos I would like to own one day. To answer that question, to start I'm not very sure. I already have a wide assortment of needles. Most of my straight needles were bought while I was studying in Argentina back in 2005, while the majority of my DPNs are Clover brand bamboo bought in the USA. My Circs are also all from the USA and they too cover a wide gamut of sizes and materials. I guess if I had to choose, I'd take the mid range needles of 7 US -- 9 US. I prefer to work with DPNs when it comes to small knits like socks, wrist warmers, and hats because they feel more comfortable in my hands than circular needles.

Weekend Plans

So next Monday and Tuesday I'm off from school. This just means that I'll have more time to do all of the homework that my teachers have assigned me for next week. Though I will be pretty busy with school, I am going to start swatching for the Central Park Hoodie, regardless of how much or how little homework I get done this weekend.

I've also been commissioned to knit for money! A friend of mine said she wanted some wrist warmers, so I agreed and we worked out the details this past week. She said that she didn't care to get them ASAP but I'm going to try and fit it into my schedule so I can get it to here within a week or 2.

I don't plan on knitting for money often anytime soon. I much prefer to teach a man how to fish than to give him what he needs for that day. Last year when I had more time, I hosted a knitting class and told people that wanted hand knits had to learn how to knit because my time was way more valuable than their money.

I finally broke down when a girl asked me to knit her 2 scarves over spring break last March. I knitted them out of chunky wool and she paid me $40. Not too bad for a first transaction. Now that I have bills and rent to pay, maybe doing some knitting for money isn't looking too bad afterall. What do you guys think? Would you knit for money if you needed some extra cash? If so, would you use the best materials possible or would you try and get cheap materials to make maximum profits? It's not like many non-knitters know the difference between acrylic and wool, right?

Anyway, I'll have more for you next week. Until then, happy knitting everyone!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Look At What I Got!

It’s only been about a week since I’ve last posted but it seemed like such an eternity. Life is hectic but my knitting, surprisingly, is not suffering. Look what I got in the mail yesterday:

A lovely 7 skeins of Donegal Tweed from WEBS! When I first saw this:

I knew I had to do it but after seeing the price tag on the yarn, I hesitated. Then I realized last week Sunday that I did have sufficient funds to buy this stuff so I got my ass over to WEBS and got the goods.

When I received the yarn yesterday, I was so happy with the outcome. The yarn is more rustic than baby soft but is not at all itchy like Lopi. Still, a thought came to my head that I wanted to share with you guys.

As a college knitter, I would love to be able to knit with really expensive yarns like Rowan, Debbie Bliss, and Jo Sharp on a regular basis. These yarns are kind of like Banana Republic or J Crew: nice to look at and fondle but definitely something I can’t afford right now (unless there is some crazy sale going on somewhere for them). So I stick to KnitPicks and sales at my LYS. Not to say that KnitPicks is of bad quality. To me it's like Old Navy or H & M: good enough quality for everyday use and not very expensive. Sometimes, though, you just want to wear/knit something special like Gedifra or Alchemy or Elisabeth Lavold.

My cheap attitude toward my craft has sometimes cost me time and energy, especially when it comes to my tools (needles, stitch markers, measuring tape, etc.). For example, I have a tendency to get Bamboo needles because they are not too expensive but get the job done. However they are annoying when you use a sticky yarn. I would love to own more Addi Turbos (over the two years I’ve been knitting, I’ve acquired 2) but they are so darn expensive. So I wait.

In reality, I’m more fortunate than many people out in the world who don’t have the luxury of spending their money/time on extracurricular activities like knitting. They have to work, feed their families, and pay rent. I do all those things but not with the same urgency that many other people who don’t even have time to relax do.

So when I was deciding whether to get the Donegal Tweed or not, I felt a bit guilty. Guilty because I felt as if I was being extravagant and was wasting my money. Now, I justify my act by saying that I waited 2 whole months before I bought the stuff. I really want that sweater and knitting it will be a whole lot of fun. I guess in the end, one should not feel guilty for buying stuff that they feel is too expensive if they have the money to buy it. It’s good to save money and buy from here or here but it’s okay to buy from here and here once in awhile so that life (and your knitting) does not get boring.