No, I’m not bored, quite the opposite

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I am, as you know, a public knitter. I knit all the time. Sometimes I think people think I’m bored when I take out my knitting and they try to make sure I’m okay and they want to find things to do so I won’t have to knit. They seem to think that knitting is something I do when I don’t have anything else to do but in fact it’s the opposite. Knitting is what I do, it’s my main thing, the other stuff is just what I do when I don’t knit. Therefore if you see me knit you know I’m happy and comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing other things as well, such as buy yarn or eat chocolate or hang out with friends or going to zumba or dance class or whatever (come to think of it, I can only see one of those things not compatible with knitting, you know, your wool gets sticky when your hands are sweaty…) but I also love knitting. It’s something to keep my hands busy and sure, I knit when I’m bored too (there has been a date or two in the past that ended with me knitting and the date looking offended but I totally blame that on the other part and certainly not the knitting) but I’m never bored with a knitting and deliberately trying to keep me from knitting is not a way of cheering me up. So, don’t worry about me when I’m knitting, I can assure you am quite content.

To give a little example on how much I knit in public I’ll show you my shawl in progress (yes, that is a third Vacillate). I started it Saturday a week ago and I have only knit on it outside my own home. I’m halfway through and again, I have only been knitting on it outside my home. Half a shawl in one week. That’s insane. But also very cool because while I’ve been knitting on this while out and about I am up to speed with my current MKAL and have made almost one entire mitten. That’s a lot of knitting.

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And another one

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I understand if you are getting tired of this, and frankly I thought it would be finished by now, but here we are. I am just about to start the decreases and our ship from yesterday has gotten more seagulls and a moon. It’s still lumpy but again, let’s put out hope to the blocking. I’m getting a little tired of colorwork but I’ll hang in there just a bit longer. I must say though, it’s still pretty even though it’s lumpy.

It’s growing

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My mitten is growing. It’s a little lumpy so far but I hope a good old bocking will even that out. In 32 rows it will be done (plus thumb obviously). The color work really helps showing progress with every row. I’ve knit on it almost all day and I have really got something to show for it. Just you wait till the other mittens is done, this pair will be awesome.

Stranded hand

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I’ve cast on a new knitting. It will, hopefully, become stranded knitted mittens in about 82 rows. It looks big but mittens should fit comfortably and maybe also have room for a pair of gloves under. And, you know, your cell phone if you are expecting a call or a text or your bus pass or whatever, all to not have to unnecessarily expose your bare hands to the cold. It will be interesting to see how this will unfold.

The joys of winter

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It’s been a yet another very cold but sunny day. I like it. I know people think I’m weird but I do. It means that winter has started and that the next step is spring but let’s not rush, let’s relish in the winter for now. Listen to the snow muffled noise. Admire trees covered in frost. Enjoy the sun in my eyes. Wrap myself in heavy merino. Drink tea next to a radiator and watch the snow fall. Eat chocolate. And, of course, knit.

Happy winter weekend everyone!

How to: Blocking

I talked out blocking with a non-knitter the other day. She has something handknit and needs it to get back into it’s original shape. I suggested re-blocking it and went straight into the discussion without realizing that my friend had no idea what I was talking about. In the end I offered to re-block it for her which she gladly accepted. But, it got me thinking that maybe a blog post about blocking and how I do it would be in order. Luckily it so happened that I had something that needed blocking right away so it all worked out well.

Now please remember, this is the way I do it, there are probably as many ways to block as there are knitters. Try it in different ways and work out what way works best for you.

So why do I block? Well, it tidies stitches up, it makes lace pop (and no longer ressemble withered lettue) and francly, it cleans the knitting. If you’re like me and bring your knitting everywhere it might need a little cleaning up.

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So, step 1 is to finish the knitting. I know it is possible to block while the needles are still in place but I’ve never tried it. Also, people seem to have opinions about wether or not to weave in ends before blocking but I don’t have any opinions at all about that. Sometimes I weave in ends before and sometimes after, mosly depending on how much time I have.

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Step 2. Fill a sink or a bathtub with luke warm water and add some non-rinse soap (that has totally changed my world, non-rinse soap. Not just for knitting but when I need to wash something up in a hurry or whatever). Put you knitting in the water.

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Step 3. While your knitting is soaking, prepare the place to block. I have play mats that work perfectly for blocking, they are soft and water resistent and they work as a big jigsaw puzzle so you can put them in any shape you want. There are other ways too. A friend of mine put a towel on her bed (works best if you have alternate sleeping accomodations or if you put a shawl to block in the morning so it’s dry by the evening when it’s time to go to bed), my mum put a towel on her basement floor (she had wall to wall carpeting but has changed that now. I wonder what she will do with her blocking now…) and I used to use a carpet before I got my play mats.

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Step 4. When the knitting has been soaking for at least fifteen minutes, pick it up from the sink as a whole without dropping any ends and gently squeeze out the water.

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Step 5. Again as a whole, bring the still wet knitting to a towel.

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Step 6. Roll up the towel with the knitting inside and squeeze out some more water. My tip here is to step on the towel as that will put more pressure on than my hands can make.

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Step 7. This depends a little on what your object is. Mine happen to be a rectangular lace shawl which requires quite a lot of blocking but a baby sweater or a pair of socks might require only that you pat them down a bit. But, back to the shawl. Measure out the corners, a lot of patterns tells you in what measurements object will end up, and pin them down.

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Step 8. Working evenly over the knitting, pin out the sides to the correct measurements. Sometimes your knitting will not be the same measurements the pattern states so don’t worry if you have to do some changes. This knitting, as it often happens, turned out on the small side so I had to pin it down four inches less on the width and the height respectively. This and the following step in the process requires some pulling. The knitting, provided it’s made from natural fibers, can take this, it’s very stretchy, but don’t pull so hard the thread breaks.

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Step 9. Once the general shape of the knitting is pinned out you can start pinning out the rest. This shawl has little points along the sides and each point is pinned out. Had the sides been straight it would have required more needles or blocking wires to keep straight lines.

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Step 10. Take a step back and take a look at your work and adjust if necessary. Now go do something else, like knit, while your project is drying. Once it’s dry, remove the pins, weave in ends (if you still have any) and enjoy your new project.

 

Nice weather for nice knits

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The very snowy and cold weather continues. I know it’s a controversive thought but I actually like this a lot, I totally prefer snow over mudd and drizzle. Spring will come, eventually, but until then there is no point in not enjoying the weather as it is, now that winter finally has arrived.

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It is also a good time to wipe out the knitted goods. Today I found out that my new hat is indeed persistent towards cold but can resist the wind. It’s still a very good hat though. My scarf (that is actually a shawl) is warm and huge and I can totally wrap myself and hide inside it. I’m warm and cozy, even while walking in the snow.

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A week or so ago a friend mentioned she wasn’t as warm and cozy though. She was working in a draft library and since I too have been working in that same library I know how incredibly cold it can be (I was once, while sitting at a table working there, wearing a knit dress over a regular dress, wristwarmers and a scarf and hidden under a huge wollen shawl and I was still freezing to the point that I thought of bringing a blanket next time). I understand her completely and I figured I need to do something about this.

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I had already thought of what to give her for Christmas so the answer was clear, I was going to knit. I found this pattern and fell in love and had some leftover yarn that was perfect.

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Only a few knitting hours (such a quick knit) and a day later I could present to my friend a pair of lovely, cozy and most definitely warm wristwarmers. I think they made her happy and I really hope they keep her warm.

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Pattern (suitingly enough): Winter Wrist Warmers by Kim Sanborn. Yarn: Cascade 220 from Cascade yarns, color 8886 Purple.

London calling, and I don’t wanna shout

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My Springtime is finally blocking and it looks like I will have a new shawl pretty soon. I was right, it’s turning out too small but it might still work out. Springtime was the third MKAL last year. The seventh (out of the eigth) was a delicious shawl, my favorite of all the MKAL’s so far, I think. It must be the most lovely color ever. It’s beautiful in every way.

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I’m so glad this was a single color shawl, one couldn’t possible pair this yarn color with anything else. The shawl in itself is also pretty. In fact, it’s so elegant I haven’t really dared to wear it more than once. This, as most of my knits, is also a tad small. (Again, I must remember to always go up a needle size when knitting Cindy’s pattern.)

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The lace pattern is a little complicated and I think that the beads, triangular in fact, really adds to the elegance.

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The shawl is knit from the bottom up and the beads are added already at the cast on. That was the  hardest part on the entire shawl but it really paid off, it looks very pretty. Now I just need to find some very elegant events where I can wear this very elegant shawl.

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Pattern: London Shadows by Cindy Garland. Yarn: Super Sport from Stunning String Studio, color is the wonderfully delicious Mulled Wine. The pattern name inspired me to constantly hum London Calling by The Clash while knitting on it.

Endless bind off

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Being back at work after Christmas vacation has really tired me out today. I just want to go to sleep but at the same time I also want to finish my book, I only have about 60 pages left. I didn’t have my Springtime blocking by last night, I had way too many things going on this weekend, all of them really fun, but not somewhere you bring your big almost finished shawl. Instead I cast on a new shawl of which I have made good progress. Tonight though, tonight I made sure that shawl would be finished and after binding off in forever it’s finally off the needles. Blocking will have to wait till tomorrow though, I really need to go to bed. I worry about the size, it might be too small but either way I look forward to see it blocked, I think that will really make it pop.

Method in the madness

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If you look at my unfinished objects, UFO, from last year you can tell that the amount I have left to make correlates with how close we are to the wedding. This is especially true when it comes to my MKAL projects. The first MKAL of 2015 I finished right on time. The second was all but finished except six ends to weave in. The third, shown above, had about twelve rows left when I left it back in May. The fifth (I didn’t even start the fourth but that was more due to the color of the yarn – Christmas red in May felt wrong – and the fact that I have absolutely no use of a silk summer scarf, it looks ridiculous on me) I had high hopes for but due to massive color problems I only finished the first clue. Then, after the wedding, I finished all the three remaining MKAL’s in August, October and December.

Now, it seems I’ve picked the UFO’s in the order I started them. The end were woven in earlier this week and I have now picked up MKAL number three. It’s called Paris in the Springtime and it feels befitting since, from what I can tell in the shops, this spring’s color is light pink and this shawl is, well it is actually purple but it looks pink. I have five rows left and I think I might have it blocking by the end of the weekend. Also, I chose my UFO’s carefully, not based on the order they were started, even though that happened too, but due to color and potential end of winter depression. I am sensitive to colors by late January and no one can tell for how long this tidying up the knitting phase will last and by weaving in the ends first I had a finished project and a sense of progress in about three minutes from forming the plan in the first place. Also, the colors of that cowl are not compatible with me in February. The one above has grey in it and that (and blue) could be a problem in a few weeks. Hence, I started that one as well and now I’ve moved past the gray and there is only purple/pink left till the end. The third project is neon green which will be perfect in February. Plus, if my hunch that pink is the color of the spring is correct and I finish my shawl soon, I will again be attempting to be in vogue for once, attempting being the operative word here.