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While knitting N’s socks, I had a breakthrough in my continental knitting style

May Dishcloth by allie1123488.

(not my hands, photo credit here)

When I learned to knit, I learned the traditional (American) way, holding the yarn in my right hand.  Then, while taking a sock class with Kari, I met a couple really neat knitters who were SO FAST while making their socks.  Watching them closely, I saw they were holding the yarn with their left hand.  Continental knitting, one of these amazing women explained to me, as her hands handled that yarn like Dash from the Incredibles, zooming through her sock project at warp speed.

(photo credit)

So the week between classes, I determined to learn continental (translation:  speed knitting, for us Type-A knitters).  I got onto knittinghelp.com, and slowly learned this backwards-feeling method.  I would have quit for sure if it had just been a theory, because it felt so awkward, but I had seen with my own eyes the speed when it was done right.

Well, I did manage to teach myself to knit continentally, but (silly me) I did it on the second sock of that project.  As a result, I had one normal-ish sock and one very-loosey-goosey-new-methodly-knitted sock.  Normally, I am a very tight knitter.  (Result of my type-A personality, no doubt).  But this continental method was So Loose.  After that project I sized-down my needles to get the right guage.

Now, if you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know that by this point, I’d made two pairs of socks that Just Are Not The Same Size.  The first pair was mismatched because I was getting used to those blasted giant toothpick dpn’s and it was my first lesson in Tension.  The second mismatched pair was the intro to continental knitting, which was made during my sock class with Kari, who chronicled her journey with the Stupid Sock from that class through a series of hilarious posts. 

And now there’s N’s latest pair of socks.  Mismatched Pair Number 3.

N's socks looking not quite even

N's socks looking not quite even

The photo (mercifully) doesn’t show just quite how mismatched these socks are… 

See, what happened is somewhere near the end of the first sock, I got my groove regarding continental knitting.  Seriously, it FINALLY became easy and all of a sudden, there was my guage again, just like with the American knitting method.  How refreshing to be all (up)tight again. 

The problem, of course, is that the first sock was almost finished and the second sock was made with an entirely different guage.  I toyed with the idea of ripping that first sock out and doing it over again, but even I couldn’t bring myself to do that.  N is still pretty happy, and I figure I can always semi-felt the suckers if they get pulled too far out of shape. 

But the problem with My Continental Groove does cut a little deeper.  See it affects…The Husband.  The Husband’s Sweater.  I started this sweater months ago and set it aside because frankly, it just got to be So Boring.  This was all fine, until I got my groove.  Now, I’m going to get to finish this sweater while trying to ungroove my groove.  I know I could just change needle sizes, but what fun would that be really?

I’ll either figure it out or else poor, poor Husband will get a nice big sweater with little-bitty sleeves.  Either way, I’m sure he’ll love it.  🙂

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[EDIT:  Some of you know my technological issues that I’ve had with my camera.  Please ignore the dates on these photos.  They’re just not right.  Some day I may figure out how to get the date-thingy to stay correct, but this is not my day!]

N’s socks are at last completed!  You may recall, I was having some trouble getting started with this pair of happy feet, but inspired by Shanda the diplady, these cute little tootsies were made.

 

N modeling her new socks

N modeling her new socks

I’d been having trouble with my Online Supersocke yarn (so I thought).  It kept splitting and just being generally naughty.  Well, Shanda was using size 1’s so I started over with size 1’s and what do you know, things started sailing along, once I got them going. 

Curious, I wanted to figure out what was wrong with the first try on size 3’s.  Lo and behold, there was a teensy tiny nick in the cord of my size 3 addi turbo lace needle.  So tiny.  I tried to take a photo to show you how tiny, but it wouldn’t turn out even on the close-up, close-up setting.  The document setting on my camera caught it though, Here’s the tiny nick, looking deceptively like a little harmless line in the cord:

 

Teensy nasty nick in the cord

Teensy nasty nick in the cord

Who knew that such a tiny nick could make such a big nasty mess.  Once I started using nick-free circulars, it was a much, much more enjoyable knitting experience, both for me and for all those around me who had been privileged to hear me muttered and grumbling with the nicky needles.

Here are a few more photos of the little masterpieces:

Getting there...

Getting there...

All done.  Happy feet!

All done. Happy feet!

Finished socks--not quite even, but pretty nonetheless!

Finished socks--not quite even, but pretty nonetheless!

Happy happy happy feet. 

Cue big, dramatic sigh from Husband, who wonders out loud when he will EVER get a hand-knit item completed for himself…

I’ve entered the world of Pattern Improvisation. 

My friend Kari is amazing.  She can improvise almost any pattern.  And she has a great attitude about it:

Don’t have that kind of yarn?  Who cares?!  This is pretty–let’s try it.

Only seem to find a different size needle?  No big deal, use it!   It’ll all work out. 

Did that pretty green hat end up too big? 

The Green "Hat"
The Green “Hat”

No problem, let’s just make it into–oh yeah–a hula skirt for the husband.  Yes!  That would work just fine. 

Counting stitches?  Excuse me what did you say?  Counting?  Huh?  Hmmm.  HA HA HA HA!  You were joking weren’t you?  Where’s the fun in that?  Ooh look, there’s something shiny over there…

She’s one of those knitters–those carefree knitters–happy happy happy.  (And incidentally, I think she’s awesome, even as I tease her!)

Happy Kari
Happy Kari

Now, me on the other hand, I’m a Type-A, by-the-book, follow the pattern, rip-it-out-if-you-made-a-mistake-ten-inches-ago (I’ll know that mistake is there!), tight-gripped, jaw-clenched, do-the-math, get it right, perfectionist, kind of knitter. 

Let’s just say, we’ve balanced each other out…

So Kari, bless her widdle heart, will be thinking, well how nice for you, Shannon, that you’re finally relaxing a bit with this knitting adventure. 

But to me, improvising is mucho stressful.  Did I say Mucho? 

It all started when I lost , misplaced, surely my husband is somehow to blame for the fact that this book is not where I remember it–my World’s Greatest Sock Book.  I love this book by Ann Budd.

getting-started-knitting-socks

I learned to knit socks using this book and every time a sock pattern seems kinda squirrely, this is my go-to book of help. 

So when I started knitting N’s socks on the magic loop, you know, the ones I started five times, I figured I could get details I needed from my Awesome Sock Book.  I needed the help because I was using different yarn and size needles than the pattern called for (very rare and scary for me, but I am under the mandate of No More Yarn!  So I am using what I have).  Now the Awesome Book doesn’t really help with circular knitting, but it’s great about explaining the heel flap and heel turn very specifically.  I figured I could figure out the ribbing, but once it came to that heel turn, I’d need a bit of a primer. 

So, fearlessly knitting away, I work on my little sock, getting ready to head into the flap and the infamous heel turn and–wouldn’t you know–I couldn’t find that stinking–I mean awesome–book ANYWHERE.

Complicate this with the fact that we had to head out of town, so I had no Awesome Book, no internet access to knittinghelp.com, no lifeline to call.  All I had is the pattern with the Way Wrong Information, and some folded patterns in the bottom of my knitting bag. 

Just before despair set in (if I didn’t figure this thing out I was going to be sitting for HOURS in a hospital waiting room with NO KNITTING–subject of another post), I got Determined not to let that stinking sock beat me! 

So I MacGiver’d parts of several patterns together and with my own considerably puny expertise, managed to turn that heel without an Actual Pattern or Actual Instructions!  I do have photos, but my camera has pooped out, presumably due to sympathy-stress from my Improvisation Ordeal, so the photos will have to wait until we’re both recharged.

But still–WOO HOO!  Very exciting to have crossed over into the world of Improvisation Knitting.  Not necessarily relaxing and enjoyable the way Kari would do it–but exciting to rise to the challenge nonetheless. 

Confession:  I’m relieved to be back to the pattern now, however.  Enjoying myself much more, and really looking forward to that Kitchener stitch at the end.  (I have issues.  I know.)

 

 

 

 

 

I love making socks.  But with all the hassle-bassle-rassle-snassle we’ve been going through lately, I hadn’t had a chance to start a new project. 

Well, the hassle isn’t over, but I decided to go for it and try some socks for N in the Online Supersocke yarn that she had picked out ages ago. 

Tried with size 1’s.  Didn’t look right.  Riiiippp.  Frog.  (Ribbit.)

Tried with size 3’s.  Too big.  Too weird looking.  Riiiiippp.  Frog.  (Ribbit, ribbit.)

Looked for size 2’s.  Grrrr.  Nope.  No size 2’s.  While that might at some point merit an Excuse To Go To My LYS at some point in the future, it wasn’t helping me right then. 

Then I stumbled upon dipladyknits, and it appears Shanda was not having the splitting, nasty experience with her Very Same Yarn.   She was great about responding to my comments to her post, and inspired by Shanda the diplady, I decided to go back to the size 1’s. 

After a couple more false starts (don’t you hate getting those stitches twisted or dropping stitches really early on), I finally started zipping along, and was in The Zone.

So here it is–(Take 5) the beginning of N’s sock.  On size 1 addi turbo lace 34″ cable–magic loop method. 

 ns-sock-leg-almost-done

I do love the magic loop–so easy peasy, never dropping those stinking giant toothpicks (a.k.a. double pointed needles) or knitting onto the wrong needle and having to tink (knit backwards one stitch at a time) back the mangled mess to get it back on the right needle! 

And it does fit N’s foot (well, leg), so all is well for now.

More pics later as the masterpiece progresses.

In my last post before I went AWOL, I told you about the children’s play that my youngest daughter was in.  You know, the one where I found out AFTER she was cast in the role of her dreams that the PARENTS were responsible for the costumes.

Go on, laugh, you children’s theater veterans.  Of course, the parents make the costumes.  They also make the sets, the programs, the props and basically, everything else.  But I did not know this, stage-mom-rookie that I was, so I was just a teensy bit surprised.  (For the record–no complaints here–our children’s theater group and its parent team are Incredible!)

Anyway, as I pointed out in my earlier post, my mom was called upon to save the day.  I really enjoyed watching her fly out of retirement and into action in her role of Costume Maker and Creative Genius Extraordinaire. 

Anyway, months later, but as promised, here are some photos of the (in)famous Lion Cub costume:

lion-cub-costume

Lion Cub Costume

Even the tail had a cute little hot pink bow on it! 

m-roar

M: "ROAR!"

This was certainly one of those masterpieces that you would never want to examine from the inside.  For all you costume makers, the bare materials were two gold sweaters from the Good Will and some fringe from the local fabric store.  We also took a headband with cat ears and sewed the matching fabric around the ears and band.  Hot pink accents, because, after all, she is a girl lion cub.  And a tail long enough for her to swing around and be a ham on stage (made of extra sweater fabric). 

Also, this play called for LOTS of sick monkeys.  The costumes were simple, but these little guys needed tails.  Now, I’m no expert knitter, but I did know how to make an I-cord, and in my world, a long enough I-cord was a monkey tail just waiting to be pinned on the behind of a monkey costume. 

These looked very complicated to the non-knitters, but ooh, so easy, and gave me a great reason to use some of my stash.  Here are the super-simple monkey tails:

monkey-tail1
100_1987

I-cord detail of the monkey tail

monkey-tail-model4

Our monkey tail model

Tip:  if you know of a community theater where they need costumes, but don’t have a resident knitter, a few night’s worth of effort and the added benefit of de-stashing will make you a hero as you make simple things that are really appreciated! 

Well, I’m officially in Big Trouble.  My youngest daughter, M, has been witness to the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding N’s debut into the World of Sewing, and naturally, she will not be left behind.

So I dutifully drug myself to the nearest Hobby Lobby and purchased her a $15 Kids’ Singer (hot pink, of course) and some sale bin fabric.  She has announced to me her list of project goals and is more excited about learning to sew than eating or sleeping.  I’ll sneak some photos at least of the cute little machine (and my ever-expanding stack of sale fabric) tomorrow and get them online for ya.  But Big Trouble, with both girls wanting to sew now. 

Speaking of Trouble, the cute little LYS where the Yarn That Has Stolen My Heart is having a party/sale evening tomorrow and I’m being lured in that direction.  Don’t buy the yarn.  Don’t buy the yarn.  Don’t buy the yarn.  (I’ll have to let you know how this works out…)  Details about the object of my obession are here.

And then there’s Little Bit of Trouble:  M has the role of a cute little ornery lion cub in an upcoming children’s play in our area.  (Can you say typecasting?!)  And–Surprise!  Parents are responsible for the costumes.  Mom to the rescue (not ME, silly…MY MOM, the costume-maker and woman-who-can-create-anything, to the rescue!).  So the little trouble, is really trouble for which I have a partner in crime–team lion cub creators. 

I am also knitting monkey tails for the same play.  Really.  Monkey tails.  But seriously, once you learn to make an I-cord, you can’t really call making eight brown ones while destashing some of your old yarn trouble, can you?!

SO–I promise soon to post photos of:

1.  M’s new sewing machine, hopefully with her in action

2.  N’s latest sewing adventures

3.  The lion cub costume WIP

4.  The monkey tails

5.  Hopefully nothing from the yarn store–but if I break down, I’ll confess to it all here.  Seriously–I’m just going for a visit.

I’m trying (trying, mind you) to figure out the wild and wonderful world of Ravelry.  What an amazing resource this is!  Up until today, I’ve also never used Flickr, so this has been a technological adventure to say the least. 

I do have some photos on of my projects with lots more knitting detail up on Ravelry now, for the hard-core knitters that might peek at this blog. 

If you’re a Ravelry junkie, I would love feedback (especially if as a newbie I’ve breached any knitting, blogging or Ravelry etiquette unbeknownst to me!).

Thanks for all the encouragement as I jump into this incredible world of crafting!  Your comments and emails have really been appreciated! 

🙂

Yes, I know the Ravelympics have been over for awhile now, but since I’m a long-run kind of gal, I kept going with some of my unfinished projects.  (Well, actually, I kept going because of M’s sad puppy eyes and little hints–Aren’t you going to finish my skirt, Mommy?)

Here is the Finished Object,  M’s cute little pink skirt:

Skirt Front

Back of Skirt

     

Incidentally, ignore the dates on these pics.  It should not surprise any followers of this blog that I’m having frustrating camera issues, but at least they are uploading, so I’m not offically complaining about it.
 

 

Here’s the skirt detail:

 

 

The skirt is from a pattern called Skirtsicle, which I found on Ravelry.  I’m really glad I sprung for the $4 and purchased the pattern, both because M found it herself and was squeaking with delight about it and also because it was easy-peasy to knit and worked up so fast. 

 

I actually had planned to use a different colorway, but I had this stash yarn and since M is a pink girl, I thought this would be a great way to practice without Investing in More Yarn, a forbidden practice in our home.  (See also:  You have enough yarn!  What do you need more yarn for?  How are you ever going to use all this yarn?!)

 

Anyway, since this turned out so well, I may be acquiring some contraband cotton to make a petite little Christmas present…

 

 

I say, who cares if I didn’t get it done (or started) before the Olympics were over!  M loves it so much that she’s worn it three days in a row.  That sounds like an Olympic event in and of itself.  Come to think of it, so does having to pry the skirtcicle off of her to wash it! 

 

At last my photographs are up and running again.  As promised in my earlier post, here is M’s very very pink market bag!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I said, very very pink.

 

The sisterhood of the traveling market bags?  (Yes, I know, lame.  But the bags are cute!)

 

Big enough for a (big) buddy or two:

These bags go everywhere with us.  And obviously, they stretch to fit the task at hand!

First excitement.  Squeals of excitement.  Shrill, little-girl shrieks of excitement.  Yes, I have finished the beautiful pink market bag for M.

I also have taken so many cute pictures of the market bags and their owners and friends. 

And now, the frustration.

I cannot stand Kodak Easyshare Software.  The camera works fine, I just can’t do anything with the photos trapped in there about a third of the time.  They won’t upload and the software just freezes up and sends me one of those polite “not responding” boxes. 

An hour after messing with the stuff (I just re-downloaded the software earlier this week, so that can’t be the problem), I finally decided to give it a rest for the night.

Anyone out there with some tips on handling easyshare upload?  Your advice would be greatly appreciated!

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to get to the bottom of it and get you the pics of the new (did I mention pink?) market bag.  You’ll have to be in suspense another day!

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