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Knitting for the Soul

Friday, July 30, 2004

Size DOES Matter

I thought that subject line would get your attention! ;)

Yes, you guessed it. I'm talking about that dreaded "S" word... Swatches! I understand the need for swatches to measure the stitch gauge before starting on a new project. But I'd always thought, and been led to believe by some pretty experienced knitters, that row gauge didn't matter. After all, you just keep going until the piece is as long as it needs to be. Who care how many rows that is, right?


I found a wonderful pattern with raglan sleeves that extend all the way to the neckline. Here's a picture.

Raglan V Sweater

I did a swatch and the stitch gauge was fine. I did the front, back and all the way to the armhole shaping on both sleeves (knit at the same time), only to find that my sleeves were at the right length for my arms, but according to the pattern, I had many more rows to knit in order to get the correct number of increases. Go figure! (I wish I had).

Anyway, I've shared my dilemma with some of the "old school" knitters at my LYS and I'm going to take it with me to the next knit night and hope that they can help me figure out a way to save my project.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Taming the Stash Monster

Okay... I'm finally going to get my stash under control this time. Honest! I've gotten a few more absolutely wonderful yarns lately, so I have more than enough to keep me going for a while. But how to deal with the big dilemma... so many yarns... so little time!

First, I've catalogued all of my patterns into 2 large 3-ring binders, complete with plastic page protectors. (Yes, I'm a geek!). They're organized by sweaters, scarves & wraps, and accessories.

I bought a scrapbook so I can keep a visual log of my projects. With a page for each completed project, I want to include a color photo, a piece of the yarn, content and care instructions, project cost and any specific project notes, such as where the yarn came from, things that were going on in my life at the time, prayers knit into the project, etc.

I'm so excited that I'm off to start knitting right now!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Finishing Touches

Today was a great day. I finished the work I needed to do for the day at 10:00 and instead of going home and finding more work to do, I decided that this was going to be a mental health day. Of course, this meant going to my favority LYS to sit and knit.

I took a couple of projects, one of which just needed the dreaded finishing that I've been putting of for weeks. Not only did I get the cable shell finished, but I learned a beautiful finishing technique in the process. Here's a photo...

cable shell

I made some progress on the cable/lace shell also. I can't seem to bring myself to spend a lot of time on the linen summer poncho. I know it's going to look great when I finish it, but I'm just not "feeling it" right now. I'm about a third of the way done, so I've convinced myself that I'll have it done in time for cooler weather in the fall.

While at LYS, I met a new knitting buddy... It didn't take long for us to discover that we both have an adopted child, we are both expectant godmothers, and that we are both interested in starting knitting ministries at our respective churches. We took a short break for lunch, and then returned for an afternoon of knitting. Now that's the life!

Make Lemonade

I learned a valuable lesson about knitting (and about life) today. My husband and I decided to take a drive to VA Beach and of course I brought along my knitting. I was happily knitting alon in the car on my olive green cotton cable shell when I noticed that I'd missed a cable twist at about the halfway point from the begining to where I am now, which is at the end of the bindoffs for the armholes. Talk about a major bummer!

Well, I sat there in the car considering my options: (1) leave it alone and pretend that it doesn't exist (2) make this the back instead of the front and keep going - after all, if I make a mistake but I can't see it, is it really a mistake? or (3) rip it out to the point of the mistake. Once I realized that this was about 40-5o rows, I suddenly had one less option to consider!

We ended up finding the new knitting shop in Williamsburg (fantastic, by the way). I brought the sweater inside and asked if anyone had any suggestions on what I might do. Fortunately, they didn't like my option #3 either, which was a major relief.

A wise lady there reminded me about "Persian Flaws". The story is that the finest artisans that create priceless heirloom Persian rugs always include a "miskae" somewhere in each piece. The "imperfection" distinguishes a handmade pice from one that is manufactured by a machine. Ironically, it's in our imperfection that we find a hint of our humanity!

She then told me of a famous knitwear designer, whose name I can't recall, who swears that some of her most inspired patterns began with "mistakes" that took on a life of their own, resulting in her sweaters having an unusual, creative, if somewhat quirky, flair. Instead of trying to remove or hide them, she celebrates them by adding embellishments or other fun touches. Sometimes she even adds a few more intentional "mistakes" in random areas and the sweater ends up looking like it was designed that way! What a neat idea.

Needless to say, I left the shop much happier and much wiser, and with a renewed enthusiasm about finishing my sweater. Not only has my sweater been saved, but I think it will end up being even more special because of the experience.

I think Jonathan summed it up when he first learned of my mistake. He said simply "Knit Happens". So when my knitting gives me lemons, I'll make lemonade!

Sunday, July 04, 2004

The Care and Feeding of Sweaters

Here are a few links on caring for those handknit sweaters in order to get years of wear for all of your hard labor:

How to Launder and Care For Handmade Garments by Fiber Images
Natural Fiber Care by the Natural Fiber Coalition
General Care Guidelines by The Crochet Network - (a great resource!)

Happy Knitting!