I have a lot on my plate right now. So much to do and at the same time, I’m quite tired. That means that there is not much knitting going on during the weeks but the weekends are mine. Tonight though I had to knit a few stitches and made a few rows on a sock-in-progress. It’s M&M knitting, just one more row, one more row. It’s lovely to see how the stripes move and I like it a lot. A sock is perfect when you have limited time, you can make quite a few rows in just a few minutes. Busy times like these, I take what I can get.
The other day I was talking about knitting (is anyone surprised?) and my friend said that I hated a certain project. I could not recall having that sentiment at all and I realized that since my friend is not a knitter, she doesn’t get it. Every knitting project has a more or less boring part in it. It could be swatching, struggling with a bad written pattern, a yarn that doesn’t want to play nice, weaving in ends, sewing buttons, button bands, blocking, picking up stitches, sewing, ripping out, having to re-do the cast on because you misjudged the length of your long-tail cast on end. It can be a lot of things, and you never know at the beginning what will happen.
Sometimes these boring elements goes by so quickly you don’t even notice them really but other times they can be a mountain impossible to conquer. That’s why knitters try to get out of doing it and yes, we will complain about the boring things as well. That’s why we have seamless sweaters and tricks to have as few ends as possible to weave in and so on. I know a lot of knitters saying that it’s unnecessary to block things (yes, they’re in denial) and that they don’t bother doing it. The sock-in-progress in the picture, for example, is at the fun part, the striping, and the cuff is tolerable which is okay since it leads up to the fun part, but one socks also has no less than 14 ends to weave in. That’s way too many in one little sock.
For the most part though, people are trying to get out of swatching. I’m no exception to this but I’ve learned the hard way what could happen if you don’t so I always swatch when it comes to bigger things like sweaters and cardigans. I don’t usually swatch for shawls and socks and such. Neither for baby clothes, I figure it will fit in a few months time or the I could just as easily give the too small item to another baby.
For the past few months I’ve had the privilege to have the mandate to advice people to swatch and you wouldn’t believe the excuses people come up with. My personal favorite is “Nah, I’ve been told I knit faily evenly so I don’t have to swatch.” Honey, you can knit as even as you want but since there is no fixed standard for gauge it won’t help you. Gauge is all about how the designer knits but once you figure that out, it can actually help you. I have a shawl designer whose pattern I’ve knit from a lot and I know that I need to go up a needle size with all of her patterns to get the shawls as big as I want them. Do you remember when I’ve spoken about gauge before? Yep, the shawls in that post are knit with the same size needles, the same pattern but by two different knitters and they are not nearly the same size. Also, you can knit even and still end up with a too big or too small shawl, to knit evenly only means that you keep your gauge through the entire project, not what gauge you had to begin with.
The same goes with excuses like “No, I think I knit fairly normal.” What does that even mean? To knit normal? What is that? And more, what it not normal? Again, no fixed standard for gauge, you can’t use that excuse because you have no idea how the designer knits.
What I find fascinating about all these excuses is that people really seems to believe them. “I don’t have to swatch becasue I’m a good knitter”, or something like that. I never argue with the excuses but keep insisting that they make a swatch, especially if they are about to change yarn and needle size. The thing about excuses are that the Knitter can blame the pattern when the sweater turns out too big. “I knit evenly so there must be something wrong with the pattern.” The things is, knitting is a hobby or most people and there are no life rules when it comes to hobbies. You can stick to the fun parts, and only the fun parts. If I don’t want to weave in those 14 ends I don’t have to, but it will be a bit tricky if I want to actually wear the socks one day. If you don’t want to swatch you don’t have to, it’s totally up to you, but if you don’t swatch you can only blame yourself. Not the pattern, not the yarn, not your local yarn store, nothing. Stop with the excuses, they are unnecessary, just admit you don’t want to swatch and then take responsibility for that decision.
I was a non-swatcher for many years, but then I learned the hard way why it’s a good idea, especially when it comes to sweaters and cardigans. The reason why I’ve stayed with swatching (and yes, it’s boring as hell, espcially if you need to block the swatch too) is that I discovered that instead of changing the needles to get gauge, I can just change the size I’m making with the use of some simple math. (The patterns states 18 stitches for 10 cm, you get 16 sts per 10 cm, you divide the chest measurements of “your” size by the gauge the pattern states, in this case 18 sts, to get the amount of decimeters, then multple that with your actual gauge sts (16 in this case) and you get a new chest measurement which might be closer to another size and you can follow the pattern for that size instead.) Most often I find that I have less stitches to 10 cm than the designer intended which means I can go down a pattern size (less stitches to knit!) and still get the same size sweater. It’s awesome! Sure, if you don’t like how your fabric looks you can start changing needles but then you need to make multiple swatches and, you know, why?
So yes, every knitting project has a boring element to it, and swatching is definitely one of them, but stop making excuses not to swatch, if you don’t want to, you don’t want to, and that’s it. No one will force you to swatch but gauge is not to be trusted and it’s always safer (but not completely safe) to swatch than not to swatch. With that knowledge it’s totally up to you what you decide to do. After all, it’s your hobby.
I did good! I held out casting on my new project till I was almost done studying and now I have submitted my papers and I have cast on my project. I’m very happy about it but it’s a bit tricky to carry the yarn of so many colors. I’m still figuring out how to do it but I guess I’ll find a way eventually. Anyway, I’m quite excited about the project and I hope it will continue being fantastic for the next few weeks. I have high hopes and high expectations, let’s hope they’ll last.
Yup, I finished it. It’s what happens when it comes to procrastinating. It’s blocking now and all ends are woven in. It just needs buttons. I have also studied a bit and I have not cast on something new. I have ideas but my next big project will have to wait till Saturday when the yarn comes out of quaranteen in the freezer where it has spent the last week. I’m looking forward to it so I’ll look upon it as a treat for finished papers. But yes, some buttons and we have another finished object in 2018.
It’s winter vacation and I’m having some time off work. Since my classes are not on winter vacation I was going to use the free time to study. I have studied a bit but mostly I’ve been knitting on a toddler sweater. It’s excellent for procrastinating. Just one more row, one more stripe, and then I’ll study. Oh, I’m close to separating for the sleeves or the bottom edge, let’s do that and then I’ll study. Once this is finished I bet I will convince myself I need to cast on something new before I can study. This is dangerous and very bad for my studies, but on the other hand it’s very good for my knitting progress. It’s like I’ve totally gone into winter vacation mode, I’m hibernating on my couch with my wool and I’m having the best of time. Except for that need to study, that is. But tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll study. As long as I can keep myself from knitting the sleeves…
The other day an interesting question was raised: Can you give away something (in regards to knitting) that you yourself find ugly?
Me and my friends had different opinions on this. One friend was stubborn and said no, under no conditions can you give away something ugly. Personally I was a bit torn. Sure, if I find something being very ugly, why would I want to bestow it on a friend? And the truth is, I wouldn’t, not if it’s a pattern issue or a huge mistake that I made that is very obvious or the color makes me sick. But, and here is where me and my friend differ, if it’s just something that I find that I myself wouldn’t wear but there is nothing wrong with it otherwise, I would, and I have, give it away. I have bought yarn over the Internet that wasn’t to my taste when it arrived and I have asked friends if they like it and if they do, I give it to them. I have knit things that were not in a color I like at all and I’ve given it away. I have even kept things to myself that were too nice to give away and given something else instead.
I wouldn’t give away bad things, but I am giving things that might not be to my particular taste. Now, why is this? Well, I think it’s because I, or rather we, have learned the hard way that people’s taste in things differ quite a lot. Me and Agnieszka rarely have the same opinion on colors and what is pretty and what is not. Therefore I never make decisions regarding colors for her without making sure I know that she will like it first. I have other friends who love colors that I would never wear and I know that they, in their turn, will never understand my passion for pink. We’re just different and that’s okay.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t give away something to someone that I didn’t think they would like, but I would definitely give away something that I don’t like if I think they would like it instead. And why shouldn’t I? I will not be happy with it, if they will, why not give it to them? That’s much better than me either frogging or hiding it away in a closet somewhere never to be seen again.
So I say, give away the ugly as much as you’d like as long as your heart is in the right place.
I like blocking. Or rather, I like the effects of blocking. I have almost gotten into fights with people who are saying that blocking is not necessary. I block everything (except the occasional hat or sock but reluctantly, let me tell you), it just makes that little extra touch that just does it. I love it when I can find a way to block in a creative way, suitable for the garment. My most creative way of blocking, so far, has been the cutlery drainer. I have used it before and it worked just as well this time around. It’s perfect for blocking baby bonnets, it has just the right shape. And since Project Baby Love is on, I guess the cutlery drainer will see quite some action this spring. Good thing I found the cutlery drainer.
2018 seems to be the year of babies. I know of 8 babies to be born this year, so far. I’m not going to knit for all of them but for a big chunk of them at least. It’s time to revive Project Baby Love.
Project Baby Love first started in 2014 when I knew a lot of babies to be born. I ended up making 11 baby sweaters in 2014 and it looks like it might be time to make that kind of effort again. Not cardigans or sweaters necessarily but baby items. I’m thinking socks.
This baby cardigan was made to help a friend out. She was knitting it and got stuck just above the sleeves so I cast on one of my own to see if I could be of any help. I don’t know what happened to my friend’s cardigan but this one turned out okay. The construction is quite clever, there is only two ends to weave in in the end, which is very sympathique. The sleeves are knit back and forth and then crocheted together. It’s not the smoothest way of attaching the sleeves together but it works on a cardigan this size. I wouldn’t use it for an adult sweater but as I said, it works for a baby one.
My friend Stina helped pick out the buttons. It turned out very cute, I think.
Pattern: Två trådändars lilla kofta by Anna Braw from Järbo garn. Yarn: I used stash yarn for this (I know, I did so well!), Drops Safran from Garnstudio, color 01. Mods: I changed the yo to M1R and M1L.
This weekend we had lovely weather, it was snowy and cold and me and a few of my yarn friends set out for a field trip. We were going to a textile exhibition and happily climbed in the car and headed for the big city. Little did we know that we were heading for a huge adventure.
Right there on the freeway we got a flat tire and had to wait for assistance since none of us felt that changing the tire on the side of the freeway in the snow and cold was very safe. Instead we hid in the car till we could get towed and since we’re all knitters we all had something to do and we passed a fairly happy time right there.
By the time we were finally towed to safer places and had gotten a functioning car, it was too late in the afternoon to make it to the exhibition so instead we had a late lunch at a nearby castle.
There we continued to laugh and knit and recover from our adventure. Some food, chocolate, pastries, tea and coffee later and we headed home again, happy and full and all in all still very content with our day.
I must remember to come back to this castle in the future, the food was great and the surroundings beautiful!