Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hugs and Kisses (XOXO) Knitting Chart

I created this chart earlier today for a hat I'm knitting and figured I'd post it here for everyone to enjoy :) Let me know if you make anything from it - I'd love to see where it goes!

Click for larger version.

PS: Pictures of the glass flower are coming soon; I'm just waiting for a sunny day so I can take some nice photos. Instead, Mother Nature has decided to play mental games with me by making it cold and dark every day this week!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Ramblings

Hey, all! I hope everyone had a wonderful and productive Memorial Day Weekend. While my weekend was great, I'm not sure I could call it productive, haha. I did, however, go away with some friends to wine country out in Seneca Lake, NY (for a bachelorette party), where we made glass flowers at the Corning Museum of Glass and then went wine tasting in the country:

I'm in the middle (with the green shirt).

If I had a brain, I would have thought to take a photo of the great flowers we all made (I'll have to remember that when I get home tonight), but for now, we shall settle for a group picture taken at the beginning of tasting.

How about you guys? Get any cute projects done?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Knitting Continental - A Feux Pas?

As many of you know, there are a couple different ways to knit and get the same results.

The first is the throw method, in which you hold the yarn in your right hand and actually "throw" the yarn around the right needle before drawing it through the loop. On most knitting TV shows, this is how you'll see people do it.

Second is the combination method, something that I'll never actually understand. I've watched people do this and still can't grasp what's happening, but you knit into the loops a little differently and almost switch back and forth between two different methods and gah - there's a reason I drive an automatic. Too much going on makes it hard for me to focus.

And third, the way I learned, is the continental method, in which you hold the yarn in your left hand and scoop it up with the right needle. This is how my oma taught me to knit when I was 12, and it was only a couple years ago I discovered there were other ways. I stuck with continental, though, because everyone said it was just so easy and fast (and it really is). People tell me I like this method because I also crochet, and the motion is very similar to crocheting, but - it's just what I know.

Recently, I was "picked on," I guess, for knitting continental. And I use that term loosely because no harm was meant by it, haha. And I have to admit that at the time, I was holding the needles oddly because I was working on a small amount of stitches on a pair of circulars, and it was just being really clumsy for me.

After I came home that night, I decided it was time to learn the throw method - oddly enough, it came super easily to me and I enjoyed it. I threw my knitting for a couple days... and got nowhere with my pattern. I think I was able to accomplish a couple inches on my earflap hat (I never said I was a fast knitter).

So now... I'm back to my continental and whizzing through. I should say I had absolutely no problems with the throw method, either - continental is just that much faster. That said, I've started holding my needles more comfortably, as I was doing with the throw method, so it all worked out.

But, I would just like to know... what's the big deal? Why does it matter how someone knits? The result is honest-to-God the same, and I'm just getting there faster. Before, I thought the "fighting" between knitters and crocheters was ridiculous, but this is a whole new realm :) How do you guys knit? Which is most comfortable? Do you judge others by how they knit? (Seriously on that last one, I judge the way people crochet, so it's okay if you say yes!). I'm not offended - just curious :)

And PS: I signed up for a Plurk account today. Have any of you guys checked this out? It's like Twitter on Speed with a totally cool user interface. Let me know if you sign up :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

FO: Blue Knit Baby Sweater

So less than a week later, I'm finished with the baby sweater! Go me! Haha. I'm starting to think I should stick to making kids' stuff, as long as it's not a baby blanket :P But really, I love making these baby sweaters because they're such nice, easy knits.

I wanted to finish the sweater by sewing on some monkey buttons - like, buttons shaped like little monkey faces. I haven't been able to find them (that said, I haven't been able too look too much), but I'd really love to. Not sure I'll have time, though! I just thought they would look really cute on this sweater for the person I'm giving it to.
For more information and photos about this project, visit the ravelry page :)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Adventures in Soapmaking - Part II

The two big bars of soap I made. The pink one on the bottom, rose-scented, came out the best (which says something considering the edges are all jagged). The cucumber melon one on top didn't turn out too great - I didn't let the first layer sit long enough before adding the second layer, so it melded into the first. Kind of left it with a cool effect, though, and I'm giving it to Nick because he loves cucumber melon.

There's a funny story behind these. My parents bought a Mickey ice cube tray during one of our visits to Disney World when I was a kid. I loved making the Mickey-shaped ice cubes growing up, but eventually I got my own place after college and whatnot. My parents were going to throw the tray away because it was falling apart, and I couldn't bear to part with it, so... it became mine! In the process of making the soap, I thought it might be neat to see what would happen... the same thing that happened to the green soap up top happened to most of the mice, but I think it looks really cool. And cute!

I was apparently never meant to be a soapmaker.

As mentioned in a previous post last week, I was going to run home, break open a kit I had purchased months ago, and become the best soapmaker since Dove went on the market, right?

It started out all fine and dandy. Until I went to make my second bar of soap and needed to rinse out the Pyrex container. Soap encrusted onto the glass! Suds everywhere! The smell of lavendar and cucumber melon pouring out of my microwave (not that this was a bad thing)! I actually really enjoyed the smell of my kitchen for about an hour or two.

Overall, the results weren't horrific or anything - it was just a bunch messier than I thought it would be. I did still like doing it, though, and have lots of other ideas. I'm just not sure I'll ever try to make multiple scents or colors in one sitting again (too much of a pain to clean out the Pyrex every time), and I think I'm going to invest in a soap block instead of using molds that crack or warp when I go to take out the finished pieces.

That said, none of these are really in any shape for me to hand out for Mother's Day, but my intentions were good! I had even bought tulle and ribbon to wrap them all up in, but as you can see... I didn't make too many and I don't think they turned out nice enough to gift to anyone. Or maybe I'm just a perfectionist.

So now... I have to come up with a new idea before the weekend is over. Thinking hurts right now.

Hope you all have a wonderful Mother's Day weekend! What are you up to? As of right now, I'm still not sure what I'm doing other than possibly doing breakfast early Sunday morning with my fiance's mom and sister. But it's all up in the air.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Baby Sweater Knitting - Loving Me the Circulars!

A picture of the sweater just after I had put the sleeves on stitch holders. Making the sleeves is usually my least favorite part of sweaters, at least on raglans because it requires me to seam. I HATE SEAMING!

Here, I'm about two rows away from starting the garter stitch border. Such a quick knit! I love it, overall.

This past weekend required me to travel to my parents' place, which is about an hour north of where I'm living now - maybe a little more. I needed a break from ruffles, and I didn't feel like dragging huge Frosted Waves panels with me when I wouldn't have too much time to work on anything, so of course I started another project in my queue.

Enter yet another baby project. Seriously, people, you have to quit reproducing! Anyway, one of the girls at work just had a baby last month, and she really wanted me to make one of the baby sweaters I've made before. This time, for a boy.

And so, I took home with me a skein of yarn and a pair of circular knitting needles. Why circular? Because the last two times I've made this sweater, my needles were never long enough to handle the increases, and it also felt wonky to keep knitting a sweater (which ends up going around) on flat needles. So this time around, I decided to try them on circulars, and I may never go back to straights. Okay, that's totally a lie, but I do love working on the circulars. I don't need to worry about losing a needle, I can push the project onto the wire between knitting sessions, they're less clumsy, etc. If you haven't tried knitting a larger flat piece on circulars, you probably should!

The pattern is written for a preemie, which in the past has given me some trouble. The first sweater I ever made from it is way too small to gift to friends. It's now sitting in a yarn basket at home waiting for God only knows what before making another appearance. The second time, the result was much better after I cast on 10 more stitches, but still seemed a little small. This time around, I cast on the extra 10 stitches and went up two needle sizes, which seems to have made all the difference. I'm adding a couple extra rows between button holes and at the bottom of the sweater so it's not too short, and I think it's turning out nicely.

I'm getting pretty good at this pattern to the point I can improvise up, down, all around, whatever. I've even started thinking of some fun decorative borders I can add to it in the future. It's a really basic pattern that I'd recommend to any newbie wanting to get into sweater-knitting.

And uh... this is my oath that I'll work on Frosted Waves and the Ruffled Capelet sometime this week, as well.

PS: Make sure to check out the Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Frosted Waves Update & How Do You Guys Get So Much Done?

A photo of the completed Frosted Waves front panel. It could definitely benefit from some blocking and probably a photographer with more time and patience.

I'm struggling. I really am. Struggling with what? Finishing anything! I'm not a slow knitter or crocheter by any means, I promise you! My knitting could be faster - I can admit that - but I'm not slow! And nothing makes me more giddy than looking at the amount of rows I can crochet in a night and know I'm super close to already being done with a project.


I have worked on this every night for almost two weeks now. All I have to show for it is one completed front panel and some armhole shaping on the second panel. I read all of your blogs and see you guys whipping up afghans, socks, and a couple hats in a matter of days. How do you do it?!

I know I had some trouble shaping the armholes because I apparently can't read more-intricate patterns (for example, toward the end of the armhole shaping when it told me to repeat Rows 2-4, I wound up repeating 2-4 of the wave pattern instead of 2-4 of the armhole shaping - I can't begin to tell you how frustrating that was to me until I figured it out... not before I had to download the stitch diagram and see it drawn out in front of me, mind you!).

As I was working on the second panel, I turned around to see Petey (the kitten) using the front panel as his own personal blanket. I love how my men appreciate the work I do!!!! Grumble.
I'm not dense, honest! Just distracted! With working full time, I only crochet or knit at night when I'm exhausted, so reading and deciphering is the last thing I want to do. I'm thisclose to switching over to stitch diagrams completely because it was just so amazing what it did for me, haha. Thing is... I'm this exhausted now when I don't have kids. Many of you do this full time, have multiple children, and so much more. I can only imagine how little I'll accomplish once I'm running after some wee ones (who aren't of the furry variety).

I have great admiration for all of you who are able to complete so many projects with a much crazier life than mine. But how is it done?!

Hope you all have a fun and craftily-productive weekend!

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