Sunday, July 30, 2006

Trad & Mod

I live in a condo building, and our garbage and recycling room has a small table on which people leave things that they don't want, but aren't ready or appropriate for throwing out.

Someone occasionally leaves stacks of fashion magazines. That's always fun. (Not to mention the odd broken VCR that for some reason makes my husband all nostalgic...)

But last week I struck gold: a knitting book! Well, just a Patons' booklet of knitting and crochet patterns for baby clothes from the late 1960s or early 1970s. But it's still knitting! It's called "Trad and Mod: a collection of classic and trendy designs for today's baby". (Note the trendy caps-free subtitle.)

It's a real mixed bag of utterly timeless, very-much-of-the-time, and "dear God I can't believe that made sense at any time".

The oddest combo of all, at least from the perspective of practicality, is a long sleeve pullover with a matching vest/tank top thingy and shorts. The poor baby would be uncomfortable in any weather, with upper body wrapped two layers of 3-ply and then -- as shown in the photography -- only a pair of shorts and ankle socks. It's a good thing the model has pudgy little legs, you'd need the fat to keep you warm.

Of course, it's all in "Courtelle". You can dress up a pig and give it a nice name, but it's still acrylic. Bah.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hey Denny!

Leave your comments here!

(And not just because I'm jealous that you've been commenting on everyone elses' blogs but not mine... ;-) )


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hate the Yarn, Hate the Project

The bamboo tank has been done for a few days now. I was wrapping it up to send to the shop last night with the patterns, and I decided I actually like it. I've had a few compliments on it based on the picture, and I have to say I'm pleased with the fit. The drape of the yarn works well for that shape.

It was a good reminder about the importance of the yarn in the experience of knitting. No matter how much I might love a design or a pattern, or the colour, if I don't like the feel of the yarn and how it handles, I'm going to be miserable. And I was.

Would I recommend the bamboo yarn to others? With reservations. Certainly not for a beginner, or for an autopilot project, but I betcha it would look nice for lace work.

Given my very recent change of heart about lace knitting, I not going to risk trying it out. If you do, let me know how it works out for you.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

OT: Firefox is Good

Image posting issues fixed with Firefox.

The Bamboo Sweater

See? It's really quite nice, after all that moaning and complaining.

N's Baby Jacket

Truly, awesome. This is a beginner's first project.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Beyond the Scarf: Other Good Projects for Beginners

I teach a class for knitting novices who are ready to take on their first major project. It's a 5 week workshop, designed to take a novice knitter through the process of choosing a pattern approrpriate to their skills and interests, and equipping them with with everything they need to know to get it done.

My students have typically knitted scarves, and are looking to take on a sweater project. I talk about gauge, help them choose a pattern, choose a yarn and start work on the project.

Typically, my students (with guidance from me, admittedly), lean towards simple shapes and designs. Lots of ponchos, shells and tank tops and vests, sweaters for babies and kids. Lots of plain stocking stitch or garter stitch, with simple ribbed or seed stitch edgings. The odd fully-ribbed pullover. Although time-consuming, Noro designs are terrific for new knitters, as the yarns are great fun to work with, and the shapes are typically simple.

And typically, students end up with chunky or worsted weight projects -- nothing too fat and difficult to handle, but also not so small that they can't make visible progress.

Part of the first class is taken up with students cruising through pattern books and leaflets, looking for something they like. I always provide a selection of books with manageable but interesting designs.

Last winter, a student -- let's call her N. -- brought a pattern with her. A beautiful layette -- jacket, bootees, hat and blanket. A very traditional, detailed design calling for baby weight yarn on 3mm needles. A very detailed design with cables and lace. She had her heart set on knitting the jacket.

I showed her all sorts of other designs. I showed her patterns with some basic lace, a few simple cables, but she was not swayed. I showed her baby clothes with a larger gauge.

Even the directions for the swatch were complex -- in the cable pattern. That, I figured, would be the test. At the end of the first class, N. headed off home to work on her swatch.

Yes, N. was a novice, but she wanted nothing more but to learn how to knit that jacket. And she persevered, and she did it. The swatch went slowly, but well. Gauge was good, and although there were mistakes, N. was clearly getting the hang of the design. She made slow but gradual progress through her design in the five sessions of the class. By the end, N. was able to work the cable design without breaking a sweat, identify and fix mistakes, and even -- most amazing of all -- hold a conversation while knitting. I remember my first cable design -- I could barely listen to the radio while I was working on it, let alone hold up my end of a discussion about politics.

I had an email from N. just this week with this picture of her completed jacket. It's beautiful work, and I'm so proud of her!

(picture to come, blogger is being weird today and I can't upload the pic)

Who says that beginners can only do scarves?

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Streetcar Knitter Takes a Break

Ok, it's officially too freakin' hot to knit wool socks on the streetcar. 35 degrees, and that's before you factor in the humidity.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

More on the Bamboo Yarn

Ok, so I ripped back that first section, made some new calculations, and started again.

I'm doing a lot better with it this time. It's still boring, but I've got a bit more confidence in what I'm trying to do, so I'm able to just work on autopilot.

Look! It actually looks like something now!

That having been said, I'm still not in love with the yarn. It's splitty and moves around a bit much -- I find my tension isn't entirely even. Plus I can't figure out how to make an elegant join.

But again -- it does look good from a distance and the colour is rich and reminds me of plum cake.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

World Cup Knitting Indeed

My brother had suggested World Cup Knitting, a while back. If you can knit for the Olympics, he said, you should definitely knit for a more important event.

I had suggested that scarves would be appropriate. I am clearly a dilettante.

Sue, of Wilmslow (a detail only - but highly - relevant to those who know where that is), knitted the England World Cup squad.

Every player who set foot on the pitch.

She started at the first kick-off on June 9th, and finished in the nick of time: by the final half-time.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Continuing Adventures of the Streetcar Knitter

I was working away on a shiny Inox circular needle, knitting that plum-coloured bamboo yarn.

As she was getting off at a stop, a woman leaned over to me and asked me what size needle I was using.

I told her -- 4.5mm. She smiled, thanked me and got off the streetcar.

How on earth could that information be any use at all to her?

Maybe she wanted to know the length of the circular... ? I could see that information being useful. But the needle size?

It was a 16 inch/40cm, by the way.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

First pair of socks!

So remember M., who was knitting a sock based on my pattern on Knitty?

She's finished the pair, and they're terrific. Way better than my first socks.

Way to go, M.!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"Look Mommy, A Knitter!"

I was knitting away on a sock on a busy streetcar this morning.

As another crowd pushed their way on and jockeyed for seats, I heard a mother remark to her daughter "There's room for you to stand there. And that way you can watch that lady knit."

I didn't realize I was providing entertainment. Perhaps I should charge.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Arts student knits a Ferrari

Genius! Instead of feeling guilty about knitting instead of doing schoolwork, Lauren turns her knitting into her schoolwork.

Original story.