Category Archives: Reflection

Next #knitchat topic – Technoknit 12/2/2010


Now I know some people, including myself do handicrafts and knit to break away from the world of technology, but technology does help us become better knitters at time.

Think of what the world was like pre-Ravelry. Pattern searches required me to get off my tookus and into a shop. Now there are practically too many patterns to choose from that I loose focus. Notice, I didn’t say there was too much yarn (there could never be too much of that).  I think it was on a episode of “Fiber Beat” that Meg Swansen noted that the Internet was in a way responsible for the huge knitting renaissance that started over the past few years.

This #knitchat discussion will be on how technology has actually improved our knitting and fiber craft (or in some-cases like myself, become a bit of a distraction).

Where: Twitter (follow the #knitchat hashtag)

When: December 2nd. 5 PM PST/8 PM EST (1 hour)

Who: Me you and other Twitter Knitters/Crocheters & Fibercrafters

How: Need a primer on Twitter Chat… check this out: What does this Twitter chat thing look like?

This upcoming #knitchat’s questions:

Q1) Who are you? Ravelry ID?

Q2) What is your favorite NON- electronic kniting related tool/app?

Q3) What is your favorite electronic kniting related tool/app?

Q4) How has Ravelry changed your knitting/crochet/fiber-craft life?

Q5) Any special tricks or tips you have for using Ravelry?

Original photo from the Morguefile

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Filed under #knitchat, Gadgets, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Reflection, Robots, Science, Techie, Technology, Twitter

Podcast Episode 5 is Up… Ready for Warmer Knitting Weather

I’ve been experiencing the worst allergy symptoms for the past week or so. It’s as if the powers that be decided to dump a big cloud of pollen and mold over me and have it follow me everywhere. Finally, it let up and I was actually able to put this podcast together.

Episode 5 – Warm Weather Fibers

Rachel shares some great tips for using Ravelry to manage your projects and stash. I talk about my latest obsession: Crocheting with Wire. Best of all, we interviewed Cheri Clark of the Naked Sheep Knitshop on knitting with plant fiber yarns… just in time for that warm weather around the corner. It’s just not as fun to knit or crochet with itchy wool when it’s hotter than 80 degrees outside.

Crocheted necklace made with copper wire and glass beads

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Filed under About Me, Crochet, Knitting, Portland Knitters, Reflection, Techniques

Scratch that… no, unravel it

In the previous post I mentioned that I would dye machine knit blanks of my cotton yarn, assuming that I would knit all of these up in the handy knitting machine I bought for making hats and things.  I tried making a long blank with three 109 yard skeins of cotton and discovered that this knitting machine abhors working with cotton. After picking up slipped stitches with a crochet hook over 2 dozen times, I said enough!

So I unraveled the long ugly tubey thing I spent the entire afternoon making and unwound it around two wooden chairs set about 12 feet apart.  I did this with two more skeins until I got bored and moved on to something else. 13 more skeins to go… sigh.  It occured to me that I could play something cheery and tongue in cheek as I walked around the chairs to wind the yarn. Maybe… some Lord Kitchener.


Knitting has taught me the value of endless patience. Dyeing seems to be gifting me with the lesson of careful preparation and planning.  Several months ago, if you asked me if I would go to this length to prepare fiber to knit a sweater, I’d flatly say… no.  I couldn’t see past my love of knitting.

A year later, and now I’m finding myself branching into other fiber related crafts. I actually want to spend more time investigating crochet in depth and improve my skill at shaping and building structures in crochet.  I spend a great deal of time making garments, maybe I need to investigate knitting and crocheting other objects including un-utilitarian ones.

It’s a little late, but here’s my short reflection/inventory of things learned and things I’d like to learn this year.

A few things I tried last year:

  • Knitting with metal and beads – fun but it hurts.
  • Spinning – I used a drop spindle to make my first single ply yarn. I think I’m going to continue investigating
  • Dyeing – I… am addicted. Sad when you get to the point where you’re looking through your stash for lightly colored or white yarns just to satisfy your need for a dyeing fix.

Things I still need to do or want to try:

  • Gansey knitting – I still need to finish my Lochniver sweater
  • Steeking
  • Crocheting a small blouse in a simple lace stitch
  • Color work/Fair Isle knitting
  • Design and knit a real Aran sweater (with cables)
  • Start a podcast- this is a difficult one for me. I often think that I haven’t started this yet becuase I get my “I need to talk about knitting/crafting” fix with the wonderful group over at my knit night at the Naked Sheep Knit Shop.


Filed under About Me, Challenge, Community, Craft, Creativity, Crochet, Dye, Dyeing, Dyeing_yarn, Fair Isle, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Portland Knitters, Reflection, Yarn

Oy, Marilyn! Fighting the Stripey Stockinette Syndrome

I wanted to finish a sweater fast! I mean two to three days fast, and it just isn’t happening. I thought I could do this with Debbie Bliss’ Simply Marylin, but alas it’s not going to happen… fast, I mean. You may remember that my idea for this sweater began in my quest for an orangy red pullover.

After I cast on and started knitting this sweater on the recommended size 10 needles, I discovered that the fabric was just too dense and tight. So I ripped out about 10 inches of work and started again on size 11’s. The knitted fabric was much nicer, flexible and soft. However, I began to notice the striping in the stockinette. I have this inferiority complex when it comes to my gauge, it it straight enough, is it perfect enough. G-dmit! I just want to finish knitting this boring sweater.

In my quest for perfect stockinette, I searched the internet for tips and tricks. I found a great resource: TECHKnitting on Gauge/Stockinette
The four tips on this page were quite helpful!

Tip 1 – Knit in the round or never purl. I love knitting in the round. But if you are knitting a cardigan, you’ll most likely have to steek. While steeking is on my list of things to learn this year, I’m not ready to waste $40-$80’s worth of yarn on a very big boo boo.

Tip 2 – Adjust the tension in your hands between purl and knit rows. I actually did this, knitting slightly tighter on the purl size, and it helped a great deal.

Tip 3 – Use different sized needles. I tried this on the Marilyn sweater, and discovered that like the detective Monk, I have issues with asymmetry. Using the different needles really bothered me to no end. Maybe because I was using two different kinds of pairs, one plastic and one birch, perhaps if the needles were of the same type, I could have handled this better.

Tip 4 – Use yarns that hide the flaws. I think this has been my standard way of dealing with the stripey stockinette problem

I think I took a lot of comfort in reading Elizabeth Zimmerman’s reassurance in Knitting without Tears. She made the point that every stitch and every row doesn’t have to be perfect, after all you don’t want your knitting to look like it was done by a machine.

On another note, I’ve discovered that I like using the Gianna yarn for knitting project such as these. I wasn’t impressed when I took the yarn out the of the package, and I held it in my hand. It seemed like shabby thick rug or craft yarn to me, but I discovered that with the right gauge/needles this yarn knits up into a nice rustic looking fabric. It’s too bad that it doesn’t come in more muted colors.

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Filed under Knit, Knitting, Pattern Links, Project, Reflection, Stockinette, Sweater, Techniques, Yarn

Went to the Beach.. and reflections on what I want in a sweater.

Last weekend… it was pretty cruddy and rainy most of the time, but we were able to get a wee bit of sun towards the end of the trip. I finished my Elizabeth Zimmerman Fair Isle sweater en route to the beach. Eric took a picture of me on the beach wearing the sweater, but I will not post it (because I look fat in the picture…. heheh, vain me). Instead you just get a picture of a very happy pug:


I was just listening to Episode 44 of Stash and Burn, and it sparked some consideration of my tastes in sweaters for knitting and my taste in fashion in general. I love some of the beautiful patterns in Interweave Knits, but I find myself not wanting to knit many of them because my gut tells me that they can be dated given a few years (not to say there aren’t good classic patterns in IK). I think I’m a bit conservative when it comes to the sweater style. I don’t want any really distinguishing features in the sweater that might date it and I tend to go for a classic look Sarah Dallas and Erica Knight patterns. I adore 1920’s and 1930’s style knitted goods and accessories. I might try to alter the stitch pattern or use a different yarn, but I really don’t want to veer away from classic patterns because I spend so much time knitting the darn things, I don’t want to wear it five or six years later and realize that I look like I need to unburden myself in a thrift store.

Really, if I’m going to spend up to three months making a garment I want to make good use of it for a long period of time. I feel like I’m going to have this sort of relationship with my Central Park Hoodie (even though it took me only a month to knit).  Having a good sweater is a lot like having a really good friend. They’re dependable, they go with you most places, and they make you feel comfortable and good about yourself.

Recent search of sweater images on line revealed the following treasures for inspiration:

Fair Isle Cardigan

I recognize this image… it’s from the Book: The Art of Fair Isle Knitting

I have this book and absolutely love it! Love it! I recommend it for anyone who wants to learn more about the art and history of Fair Isle.


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Filed under Fashion, History, Knit, Knitting, Patterns, Reflection, Sweater

I’m almost there.

I just attached the arms to E’s seamless raglan sweater last night… so I’m on my way to finishing this. But more importantly I’m 93% done with my Christmas knitting! Okay, I was a little Obsessive compulsive this year and put things into a spreadsheet with a bar graph, but hey, IT WORKED!


Click to get a larger view

I had a few detours including socks and handwarmers for other folks outside of my immediate family… but oh did I get to sample some pretty nice yarns. Also, the lovely thing about working with different projects with varied gauges of yarn and patterning or stitching is that I can avoid repetitive stress by shifting to different projects. Next year I think I’ll start earlier say do one Xmas project a month so I can focus on doing more variation in my gifts. I’d like to knit socks for just two family members a year so I don’t burn out on the socks and more importantly, I can knit my own socks and look forward to having pairs for myself.

I actually think I’m going to scrap the Percy Bag for now and just focus on getting the raglan sweater done. By the way, he knows this is what he’s getting, it was just to hard to hide it. He’s not big on the ceremony around Christmas, but I did get him something else that will be a surprise!

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Filed under Challenge, Craft, Knit, Knitting, Project, Reflection, Socks, Stuff I made

Am I dyslexic or just lazy? I can read charts but I can’t write them

I love Elizabeth Zimmerman’s writing, but sometimes I lament that she doesn’t make enough use of charts. There are times when the mathematician in myself would prefer to scan over visual charts instead of reading Zimmerman’s written pithy instructions. I’ve decided that it’s ironic because I myself would rather give verbal instructions when teaching than write the instructions out with diagrams.

I made up a simple little pattern for a pair of fingerless mitts about a year or so ago and I gifted them to a friend who taken up knitting since then. It was a nice little number…. a simple O cable panel surrounded by two panels of a zig-zag eyelet pattern on a stockinette background. I added a bit of snugness by fashioning a mock cable rib along the underside of the mitt. Don’t ask me for a picture because again, I’m two lazy to draw or produce one.

She asked me for the pattern and yesterday I tried to write it out, and I discovered… I’m crap at writing out patterns. At the very least, I need more practice writing them and I make excuses all the time telling myself that I don’t have the time and I’d rather spend my free time knitting. Okay, I realize that this is a very bad attitude to have and I’m sure that eventually I’ll reckon with my testy impatience and selfishness. After about twenty minutes and five or six crumpled pieces of graph paper… I just told her that I would walk her through the process telling her what to do row by row. I figured that after two repeats of the very simple pattern she would be able to do at least the length of the arm and section before the thumb hole on her own. I’d later show her how to join the mitt and then finish with a ribbed edge.

It was so bloody cold this weekend. I took a break from knitting gifts to make a pair of mitts for myself. I have a different variation which I finished this weekend. I will post a picture of these when I have the time. I used a very chunky and somewhat polar bear (beige) colored furry yarn that I purchased at a sale at JoAnn Fabrics (Sensations -Angel Hair) and knit a version of the mitts I described above on US size 10 and 11 needles. Result… in about three hours I had a pair of warm toasty hand warmers to wear in the cold outside…. with clothes, a coat, scarf and hat, of course. I love them because they make me feel like a cave woman.


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Filed under Challenge, Craft, Creativity, Gifts, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Math, Patterns, Reflection, Stockinette, Teaching, Techniques, Yarn

Interdisciplinary knitter

All this talk of robots and robotics has gotten me into this kick about understanding the science and mathematics of knitting. Quite a while back on my other blog I posted a set of links I found on “mathematical knitting.”

crochetlorenz.jpgI may have mentioned in a previous post that I find knitting lace soothing because of it’s soothing effect on me. Numbers and patterns have a calming effect on me not just because they can repeat and the repeats have the same effects as chanting sometimes the challenge of figuring out problems in my knitting, or undoing mistakes can keep me focused (and sadly other times it can also drive me buttons).

Knitting is not an easy skill for very young hands to learn, but from my own experience learning how to knit as an adolescent, it has taught me patience and that the fruits of patience and labor can result in something both satisfying and aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps learning to knit can help teach children and young people who have been raised in the frenetic age of instant-wow how to slow down, step back and learn tactilely. The article linked above “Teaching Mathematics with Knitting” described ways that some educators use to teach mathematics with knitting, namely multiplication. However, there are so many other ways to teach mathematical type subjects and concepts:

  • Tessellations
  • Numerical Patterns
  • Modular Arithmetic
  • Arrays
  • Probability
  • Area
  • Algebra
  • Trigonometry
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Estimation
  • Quadrants/Coordinate Plotting
  • To name a few…

As Knitting fool points out…

All knitters are mathematicians. Knitters count the stitches (arithmetic), figure out the number of stitches needed (algebra) and create shapes (topology, geometry, and trigonometry). Knitting was one of the first applications of computer programming. Knitted fabrics were commercially produced using punch cards long before anyone ever heard of IBM or Microsoft.

I no longer teach in the classroom, but I think it would be wonderful to create a mini-curriculum for math focused on knitting. Now, imagine the possibilities for teaching chemistry (fiber identification and dying)

Image above, from an article in Science News Online, is of a crocheted Lorenz manifold (pattern and paper on the subject). Image below is of a Mobius band knit by Sarah-Marie.



Filed under Colors, Knit, Knitting, Math, Reflection, Techniques, Yarn