Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Those dratted swatches!!

As a new knitter, I used to hear that swatching is important before casting on for a new knitting project. :) I frankly thought they were a waste of my time. I mean, I was ready to start on my new project with my newly purchased scrumptious yarn, and then I read "Take time to check your gauge". Grrr!! Suffice it to say that I went for a few years as a knitter without ever knitting a gauge swatch.
Gauge Swatch for my Wrapped in Clouds Shawl pattern
Then I started designing. And that's when I realized how important making a gauge swatch is. It isn't just a waste of time and yarn. It's like a little mini-prototype of whatever project you will be working on. And that little square of knitting gives a lot of information.

How so? Well, let's say I'm designing a simple scarf using worsted weight yarn. I cast on between 20-30 stitches and work about 20-30 rows of the pattern I'm going to be using. Then I block the swatch like I would the real scarf - if it's wool I would soak it in a little solution with wool wash; if it's acrylic, bamboo or cotton, I would steam block, then pin it out until the design looks like I imagined. (Some designers even poke, prod and manhandle the swatch, hoping to imitate how the item would be used in real life, to see how it holds up. I'm not that advanced yet. :) )
Gauge swatch for the Long Way Scarf pattern
By knitting a gauge swatch and then blocking,  I can measure and figure out how many rows will give an inch so I know how many rows to knit to get the scarf as long as I want it. Also, I will be able to get how many stitches to cast on to get an inch for the width of the scarf. Commonly, the gauge of a pattern is given in 4 inches, with the needle size also stated e.g. 10 rows and 13 stitches = 4 inches/10cm on US #10.5 needles in  stockinette stitch. With this information, you can also figure out how much yarn you need for a project.
Gauge swatch for Sunehri Shawl pattern
Anyway, why this long ramble about swatches? Because I was looking through my photos and realized I have quite a few swatches (a box of them actually), and I wanted to share them with you. I must confess though that unless I'm knitting a piece of clothing like a sweater where gauge can make or break the item, I very rarely make a gauge swatch. Over the years I've realized that I knit very loosely, so if it's a scarf or shawl, I'll probably go down a needle size to get close to the gauge. 
Picture taken with phone camera of Destiny Cowl swatch
The moral of this post then, is that you should check your gauge, especially when knitting garments and items that require an exact fit. For scarves, well...I'll leave that up to you. :) Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Every Guest is an Angel in Disguise

One of our very close friends and former roommate is visiting for a couple of weeks and staying with us. The only room we have is my unofficial craft studio, which meant that I had to do a bit of spring cleaning. But that was a blessing in disguise because it gave me the chance to reorganize and make more space in the room.

As usual, I made a mountain out of a molehill with this project, or as the hubster would say , "you make a big project out of a small task." My initial idea was to sort all my yarn by weight and then by color, photograph each one, and record it in an inventory spreadsheet.

The first step in this "awesome" plan was to sort the yarn out. We have a lot of Pampers boxes lying around the house so those became sorting boxes for my yarn lovelies.

I labeled the boxes with the yarn weights and got to sorting, carefully unloading them from the bookcases where they've been residing for the past year.

The whole room was in flux. I moved some smaller bookcases around, and wondered what to do with this little black table that had been hanging around in the study for a while. It became a waiting station during the changes, holding yarn, needles, letters and a needle case. It looked like this during the process.

All of this first stage took place on Friday. Saturday was busy with a potluck and visitors dropping by the house in rapid succession. I didn't get to the room again till Sunday morning. Our friend was arriving Monday. I had to work some magic. I'm pleased to say that I got a magic wand, or a magic burst of energy and inspiration to finish clearing/rearranging the room! :)

ALL of my knitting supplies and accoutrements fit in that little corner of the study after I was done! Isn't that awesome? And see that little table? I put my plastic drawer set on top, and hid my WIPs in a Pampers box that fit neatly underneath it. More WIPs are in that wooden basket on top. I even labeled boxes that held business cards, stickers etc (those pesky little things you can never find when you actually need them), and labeled the drawers that held them so I wouldn't forget where anything was.

I organized my little button collection into cute solid food jars from when my son was an infant, and put my safety pins and quilting pins (for blocking) into little square containers I got at Rite Aid for 4 for $1.

And the other side of the room? Bare! With lots of space. Even my friend was surprised when he walked in on Monday night, as he knew what it looked like previously. All in all, I think it was mostly successful.

Unfortunately, my inventory-recording and photo-taking session didn't come to pass. But not to worry. I hear I have a few days off coming soon, so there will definitely be a yarn photo session. Have a great week!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Some fun little mitts

I just thought I'd share this quick post about some fun mitts I've just enjoyed knitting. I think I've made four of them so far, but I only have pictures of two of them. The pattern is the Lacefield Mitts by Adrienne Krey. I first came across the Blue Leaf Headband, also by Adrienne, and clicked through to the mitts. They are extremely quick to knit (I knit the most recent one within two hours on a plane ride) and the results are fantastic.
NOTE: I've knit 6 of the headbands too, but I don't have any pictures of those yet. I'll put them up as soon as I do. They are as addictive to knit as the mitts.

So far, I've knit three of them in Classic Elite Waterlily (I love this yarn!) in a golden yellow, green and rust red colors, and one in Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Cadmium Colorway. The pictures below are of the rust red and Malabrigo Mitts. As usual, thanks to Zeina Newman for being a willing model.

First, the dark red/rust red one:

And the pair in Malabrigo Merino Worsted (cadmium colorway). How bright is that yellow? I love it!!

As my Korean friends will say, "Yeppeo da!"(means "pretty") Enjoy the rest of the week! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Wishlist Queue for Knitscene Accessories 2012

You all know that I'm psyched, over the moon, and thrilled silly to be in this inaugural issue of Knitscene Accessories. I thought I'd share with you some of the patterns that made me want to pick up my needles and pull a knitting all-nighter (in addition to mine that is, hehehe). However, just like with clothing and accessories you would see in a store, you might think something is gorgeous but it might not be your style. So this list is not meant to offend or belittle any design that's not mentioned here. I seriously LOVE all of them, but I know I won't be able to ever knit them all. Or will I? (maybe a challenge to knit all the accessories in this magazine might be fun!)

Here goes.

I've been on a recent fingerless mitts binge so that the Reservoir Mitts by Allyson Dykhuizen caught my eye at first glance. I was immediately drawn to the interplay of pink and brown in an entrelac dance and thought "I want a pair in those same exact colors!"
Reservoir Mitts by Allyson Dykhuizen. Picture courtsey of Knitscene Accessories 2012

Next is the Aristida Shawl by Alexandra Beck. The pattern looks simple enough, but the way the diamonds and eyelets are arranged keeps bringing me back. And personally, I think the fringe is the icing on the cake. Also the grey color of the yarn used gives it an elegant, rustic feel compared to most shawls which have a more delicate, ethereal feel. I really, really, really hope I can make time to knit this shawl.
Aristida Shawl by Alexandra Beck. Picture courtesy of Knitscene Accessories 2012.

I was both excited and sad when I first saw the Sea Legs Scarf by Allison Haas. "Why sad?" you ask. Because I had had a similar idea to make a traveling cables scarf. However, I'm still pretty young at knitting and designing and didn't have the chops to get the design out of my head onto paper and yarn. However Allison's version is soooooooooooooo much better than what I even imagined, and I'm so glad she got to it first. It's a unisex scarf so it will be a great last minute gift for a loved one. I also love that it's loooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggg! 92 inches long! Yes! And the traveling cables? Absolutely SEXY!(Yes, I'm currently into cables. I DIG cables.)
Sea Legs Scarf by Allison Haas. Picture Courtesy of Knitscene Accessories 2012. 

Another one I would like to try is the Orbs Cowl by Robin Ulrich, mainly because the way the model posed with it is very cool! No, that's not the reason. Sorry! :) I've actually wanted to learn how to knit welts and this cowl looks pretty awesome with all the welts moving up and down in that hypnotic chevron wave. And it looks like a quick project, which makes me even happier.
Orbs Cowl by Robin Ulrich. Picture courtesy of Knitscene Accessories 2012. 

Talking about quick projects, the Inishbofin Cowl by Heidi Todd Kozar keeps drawing my attention each time I flip through the magazine. As I said earlier, I currently dig cables, and this little cowl is awash with cables. Happiness! It's beautiful, simple, and looks to be quick. Watch out now, I might ACTUALLY cast on for this one.
Inishbofin Cowl by Heidi Todd Kozar. Picture courtesy of Knitscene Accessories 2012.

Now these last two are for when I finally master my fear of colorwork. The Wellington Mitts by Rebecca Blair is the cover pattern, and is beautiful. Pink and grey together make a striking combination, and those zigzag stripes aren't playing around either. This pattern is so cute and just right for a hip young adult who wants to look cute but also wants to stay warm during the fall and winter (Right? I know a couple of those). 
Wellington Mitts by Rebecca Blair. Picture courtesy of Knitscene Accessories 2012.

The Equilibrium Cowl is one of those patterns that show me that I still have a long way to go. I couldn't figure out how Carolyn Kern got those two different patterns on both sides of the cowl while knitting in the round. I'll have to take a look at the pattern. This cowl is just stunning, and I will be very proud of myself if I ever make it.
Equilibrium Cowl by Carolyn Kern. Picture courtesy of Knitscene Accessories 2012.
There are so many lovely designs in this magazine. If you haven't bought your copy yet, what are you waiting for? :) Hehehhe...just saying, buy a copy and help a sister out. Knit my designs and all the others in there. In fact, since the magazine is all accessories, what say you to a challenge to knit all or most of the patterns? I'm up for it if you are! Let me know, and enjoy the rest of your week!