Today’s topic asks: Are you a knitter or a crocheter, or are you a bit of both?
I am a knitter, through and through. I’ve taught myself to do single crochet for edgings and joining, but other than that, I’m pretty terrible at it.
Every once in a while I get an urge to improve my crochet skills, though… usually when I see some adorable amigurumi (like Stacy Trock’s — LOVE her stuff! Sandford the Squid and Morris the Dragon are my faves) or something heart-wrenchingly adorable like these baby Mary Janes:
Besides my lack of skill, I don’t see how I could ever watch TV/look out the window/read a book while I crochet. I can do all of those things while knitting, as long as my project isn’t too complicated. I can feel the stitches as they slide off the end of the needle without needing to look at them. Crochet, as far as I can tell, requires you to look down to see where to insert the hook, regardless of skill level.
That said, I am glad I know how to edge things in crochet. That definitely comes in handy.
Here’s a little baby jacket with crocheted edging and button loops:
And a blanket with crocheted-together squares:
I’ve dabbled a teensy bit in other crafts, but I don’t think I can ever feel the same unbridled love for crochet (or sewing, or papercrafting, or sculpting…). To me, knitting is the best of all worlds–meditative and calming, yet challenging; endlessly versatile; beautiful and useful.
I don’t fault anyone for feeling differently, of course–things would be very boring if we were all the same!
Today’s topic: Improving Your Skillset. How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base?
I would consider myself an advanced intermediate knitter. I can (obviously) design patterns, but there are still many skills I don’t know, or don’t know well.
There are a few skills I’m pretty confident about. Like complex cables:
Socks (including stockings and slippers, which I prefer because they’re so much quicker!):
Which wraps up the list of skills I’m confident in… and brings me to the skills I’m not!
Here are a few that could be better:
1. Short rows. I’m okay at these, but they never turn out quite as I’d like them to–always a little messy or misplaced. I’ve been bookmarking alternative short-row methods for a while (shadow wraps, German short rows, Japanese short rows), and sometime when I’ve got a lot of knitting dead time (ha!) I’m going to do some mega-swatches and try them out.
2. Intarsia. I’ve done it, but it was fiddly and awful and I hated it. Here, for posterity, are the only two intarsia projects I’ve ever done:
And here’s a list of things I haven’t tried at all (but want to!):
1. Steeking. Scares the crap out of me. I don’t have a sewing machine (or access to one), so I know I’ll have to figure out how to REALLY reinforce those center stitches before I dive in.
2. Complex lace. I’ve never done nupps or bobbles, never knit with beads, and never done lace patterning on both right and wrong side rows. This is more a case of not finding a pattern I’d like to knit than anything else, honestly…. I don’t wear or knit shawls (although I’m working on a design for one right now, oddly enough!), and I’m not a big fan of how most of the froofy lace stuff looks. But I’d still like to try it!
3. Crochet. I know how to single-crochet around the edges of things, but that’s about it. I would love to actually make a whole crochet project someday.
That was a fun list to create. Makes me want to go work on my shawl design, actually :-)
I was feeling some poetry for today.
The first two are haikus, the second is something… else.
Your hobbies are nice
Trains and stamps, beads and scrapbooks
But mine is warmer.
Sure I’ll make you one!
Pay me for yarn and knitting.
I’ll see you next year.
ODE TO BLOCKING
Every stitch perfect
As though I did not make it
But I was the one
Who blocked it.
The prompt for today asks whether local seasonal weather affects my crafting.
Well, let’s look at an average temperature graph for my Los Angeles-adjacent town:
And let’s compare that to, say, Rhinebeck, New York:
Do I wish I lived somewhere that got a little colder? Yes. Do I let it affect my crafting? Definitely not. I love woolly sweaters, jackets, hats, scarves, and mittens. I will continue knitting any and all of those no matter what the temperature is. I have family in the Midwest, for one thing–they can always use warm handknits.
There’s also an odd phenomenon that I’ve observed in Southern California. As I’m sure we all know, handknits can be very fashionable accessories. SoCal may not do cold, but it does do fashion. So anytime the temperatures dip below 60F, out come the wool hats, gloves, scarves, puffy parkas, and UGG boots.
I’ve fallen victim to it too, but for a different reason. Since I started designing, I have a closet stuffed with cute knit accessories. If it’s anywhere near a cold temperature outside, I seize the opportunity to wear one or more. I know it’s ridiculous and that my Midwestern friends would laugh, but there you go.
As far as knitting goes, I don’t let the seasons affect what I work on at all. When you’re submitting designs for possible publication, the timeframe is usually at least 6 months in advance anyway–so I’m knitting with light cotton in the dead of winter and heavy wool in summer anyway.
Here’s what I knit last summer, from June to September:
That’s a whole lotta wool.
And last December I was working on Bevin and Hipster Stripe:
Which are both about as summery as I ever get.
So I think I can safely conclude seasons have no effect on my knitting whatsoever :-)
Today’s topic requests that I blog about someone in the fiber arts who really inspires me. I knew right away that I’d want to talk about one of the designers I admire–after all, looking at them is what made me think, “Hey, I might be able to do this design thing!” in the first place.
But who to choose? There are so many talented and awesome designers out there right now, and thanks to Ravelry, I can
stalk follow their every designing move. I especially love Ysolda Teague’s modern and simple style, Marnie MacLean’s romantic, textural designs and willingness to help upcoming designers, and Romy Hill’s beautiful shawls (if I actually, you know, KNIT shawls, I’d be all over that).
But the designer I decided to focus on today is Wendy Bernard, who blogs at knitandtonic.net. She designs modern, figure-flattering garments that pretty much always appeal to me. And although she lives in southern California too, she doesn’t shy away from my beloved wool!
A look through my Ravelry projects tells me she was a good choice (these are all projects from before I started designing, of course).
Here’s Jordan (all pattern links go to Ravelry pages):
A striped Tomato in-progress (I did finish it, promise, but for some reason never got pics!):
I’ve also made Sizzle, which was gifted to a friend before pictures could be taken, and Something Red, which turned out a little too small (totally user error) and then had to be frogged to make something else due to lack of yarn.
Now, five FOs from the same designer may not sound like much, but that’s BY FAR the most I’ve knit of anyone’s patterns in my almost 10 years of knitting. And even though I can’t really justify knitting anything that isn’t my own design right now, I still am dying to make these sweaters from Wendy’s wonderful Custom Knits book:
Also Opulent Raglan, which I actually BOUGHT YARN FOR right before I started designing and then ended up destashing so it would stop taunting me.
I haven’t bought Custom Knits 2, because I have a feeling I’ll fall in love with sweaters in there too and it’ll just make me sad. But I will continue to admire Wendy’s design aesthetic and prolific output (Custom Knits: Accessories comes out next week!). I will also continue reading her blog, where she shares interesting and often moving stories about the business of designing, knitting, and life in general.
So thank you, Wendy, for being such an inspiration to this newbie designer :-)
Today’s topic asks bloggers to talk about their love or confusion of color. It’s funny–only a few years ago, I would have said that I always, always gravitated toward rich jewel tones, especially blue, purple, and green, and rarely knit with anything else. A quick look through my Ravelry projects proves it:
I figured this trend would continue when I started designing last year. After all, I’m the one who gets to pick the colors I want to knit with, right? Oddly enough, though, I’ve found myself using more neutrals and dark, muted tones than before. Having to think about the styling and wearability of the piece changes things.
Here’s a snapshot of some of my designs that proves it:
Of course, I also have these, so maybe I haven’t gone as far from blue and green jewel tones as I could have, heh:
A look through my yarn cabinet also shows a weakness for impulse yarn purchases in blue, green, and purple:
I’m going to continue attempting to branch out, color-wise, but I’m not sure how much luck I’ll have with all this yumminess calling to me. I think if I could only knit from Madelinetosh jewel-tones for the rest of my life, I’d be perfectly happy.
Starting Monday, I’m participating in the 3rd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, hosted by the lovely Mimi of Eskimimi Makes.
I’m excited about the challenge of blogging seven days in a row. The prompts are great–very thought-provoking. I highly recommend checking them out if you haven’t already.
Hope to see you on Monday!
Gosh, I feel like I haven’t shown much of anything here for a while (posting my husband’s hat last week was intended to distract from this fact–did it work?).
There’s a good reason. Here’s what I’ve been doing instead of knitting:
I’m working on sizing a sweater design for a yarn company. This is called “grading” among the pattern-writing community. It’s HARD. Especially when you’ve designed a cardigan with large cables and 3X3 ribbing (even on the sleeves) that must be maintained for each size.
I have about ten more pages in my design notebook that look pretty much like this one. Many designers prefer to grade patterns in Excel or another spreadsheet program… but to be honest, I like working everything out on paper better. Plus I never really learned how to use Excel to its fullest potential, and the amount of time it would take to learn seems somewhat prohibitive at this point.
Plus, this way I get to use my iPhone, an incredibly powerful hand-held computer, the same way I’d use a $2.99 calculator, which entertains me for some reason.
But as I’ve said before, I actually really do like math, which helps the whole process a lot. And figuring out how to maintain the overall look of a sweater while upsizing/downsizing parts the right amount appeals to the part of me that likes puzzle-solving.
I did get buttons for the green sweater this weekend. It was surprisingly difficult to find 4 large (1.5″) brown buttons, but the fifth store I went to had some that will work. This means blocking can commence! Hopefully I’ll have pictures for FO Friday this week…
See this nifty hat, modeled by my husband?
Nice, eh? (And the model’s not bad either, if I do say so myself. Look at those soulful brown eyes….)
But here’s a secret–I didn’t knit the hat. He did!
After a few years of watching me knit (and start designing), he decided he wanted to learn. As he put it, at least then he could understand me when I started swearing at my knitting. Heh.
He started with a knit-purl square. In one of those jokes of the universe, he was a total natural. Very even tension from the get-go, and he figured out right away the best way to hold his yarn so he’s fast. My first projects looked like utter crap, but his first square is good enough that we actually use it as a coaster around the house.
This hat is his second project. His first time following a pattern, knitting in the round, using DPNs, cabling, etc. etc. etc.
Look at those sexy decreases:
He picked out the yarn at The Twisted Stitch in Monterey. It’s Imperial Yarn Columbia in (I think) Indigo Heather, and it’s DELICIOUS. Squishy and bouncy, and just the right amount of rustic-ness while still being soft. The color depth is fabulous. I want a sweater out of this yarn really, really badly.
The pattern he used is the Irish Hiking Hat (Ravelry link). He deliberately made it a little longer so it’s a bit slouchy:
I’m actually really jealous of this hat. Maybe I’ll get him to knit me one next….