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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Some new info on swatching and Pimping KnitLab

Hey - do ya'll like my new header? I was tempted to put in a picture of feet - not my feet, Thank Dog. But here it is:
The verdict here on this photo leans towards "photoshop". What do you think?
I was surfing for more information on swatching and I came across this:Swatch Out. It's by Marilyn Roberts, who is a great knitter, but scary at the same time. She reminds me of my ninth-grade home ec teacher, also a Mrs. Roberts, whose mantra was "Rip it out and start over." Fittingly, her blog is called The Knitting Curmudgeon. Marilyn Roberts reminds me of the teacher you hate, but by God, when you left her  class you could diagram a damn sentence! I may hate the way she tells me to swatch, but in the end I know I'm going to have a beautiful garment.
I signed up for this new knitting website:KnittingParadise, and through it I found this online knitting course: Knit Lab. (I'm not sponsored by them - I wish.)  It starts at a very basic level and then moves along. The thing is, it's half-price right ($29) now so I went ahead and signed up, since the course also covers some advanced techniques I have no idea how to do. I'll keep you posted, but if you've had an urge to learn to knit, this might be just the ticket for you.
Have a good week. In spite of a little blowing snow this morning, spring is in the air!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Top O' the Swatch to Ye!

and the word for the day is : SWATCH!
I'm putting this out there. You must swatch. Do not brush it aside like an annoying gnat. If you don't swatch, it's possible that your hard work and  long hours knitting will result in a garment of unidentifiable proportions -  if not simply unidentifiable.
You must swatch if you don't knit to gauge, that is - in just the exact proportions of number of stitches to inches and so forth stated in your pattern. Most people don't knit to gauge, although a lucky few can just jump right into their next project, like my friend Debbie. Everyone is different and if you swatch just a time or two you'll understand your particular style and will be able to quickly make allowances for needle size. The end result is, of course, that you'll end up with a garment you're proud to wear or give, and there will always be that amazed  cry of "You made this?" from the admirers or lucky recipient. (Like my cat in the previous post)
How to make a swatch:
Cast on the number of stitches as directed by pattern direction and knit for the corresponding number of rows. The DK project I'm currently working on calls for 21 stitches and 25 rows, for example. (I've knitted the swatch up already and it's waiting to be measured.)
If I'm doing a gauge for a particular project, I won't cast-off before I measure. Once I get the gauge right, I'll frog it (unravel).
If I just got a new yarn for my stash and don't have a project in mind, I'll cast off and block for future reference. I put a ball band on the swatch with the size needle noted, and staple or tack it to my swatch before it goes back into the stash. For current projects, I'll make the necessary notes on the pattern itself .
Due to my annoying stubborness and hard-headedness tenacious nature, I will grapple with a swatch like I'm mud wrestling a pig until I get it just right.  After swatching so much, I now know that I have to start with the size under what's stated in the pattern. Sometimes I have to go down a size further, and use a larger size for my purling needle if the pattern is stockinette stitch. The pattern I just got calls for size 7 but I had to use a 5 for purling and a 4 for knitting before the gauge was even close.
Swatching can be very pleasant, especially if you just feel like knitting with no particular goal in mind. It's also a good remedy for that first surge of enthusiasm for a new project, since you can work with your new yarn immediately without committing yourself!
This is my new project:
I did it in the yarn specified, Sirdar Summer Stripes, but you can knit it up in any yarn that fits the gauge. The yarn is a cotton acrylic blend so, as my check out lady said, "It will wash up nicely."
Keep swatchin'

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Hat for a Cat

I guess this shows you how desperate I've  become for suitable diversion during these last snowy days of winter!
It only took minutes to make, including the embellishments I added: a crochet flower, single-crochet edging and I-cord ties. This is also a sort of parody of a famous mommyblogger, whose "little" recently wore a similar design on her first birthday.
The design comes from Sara Thomas of Scooterknits. This is her Etsy shop:
Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A New Technique

I got the pattern for  this great ruffled edge from the Bernat website. You will need to concentrate at first to get the pattern down pat, but after a while it becomes second-nature. I think I started this about four times before I was happy with it - don't be afraid to frog and start over again if your first results are ....unfortunate.

I'm also going to address a couple of errors commonly made by new knitters.
Are you plagued by extra stitches that mysteriously appeared on your needle??  If it that has happened to you, it's because the yarn is hanging on the wrong side of the needle as you begin a new row. The loop from the previous row that the first stitch  is knitted into looks like two stitches, and each row increases by one stitch as the item is knitted into indescribable proportions. It's at this time that the knitting chaff is separated from the wheat: you either get frustrated and quit, or you get frustrated and seek help! Take heart - go to this website: Lionbrand

The next mistake made by new knitters is dropping stitches. For some reason, I've been dropping stitches a lot lately and I'm perfecting my stitch-retrieval technique. I found this video on YouTube and it has some new tips. The video quality is excellent.
Happy Knitting!