Saturday, 31 January 2009


I was destructive enough in my last post so, today I decided I’d let the constructive half of my personality write a post! Thank heavens that I'm a multiple personality!


How can you have a marathon with such limited resources? You can if you try to make as many garments as possible from a single skein! A 50 g skein!

This is how the story begins- about a month ago, I managed to “kill” my last functional tapestry needle and had to buy a new set. The tapestry needles are sold in a yarn shop. And there’s plenty of yarn in a yarn shop (as you can imagine)! And this knitter is not allowed to buy any more yarn this winter unless SHE intends to eat it. So, I tied my hands and took a few friends with me (heavy weight category friends - who could easily «remove me from the shelf» if necessary) and off to tapestry needles shopping we went. Why didn't I simply leave my credit cards at home? Well, obviously because the nice lady in my favourite yarn shop is very cool and she wouldn't mind waiting a day or two to get the money (she is quite useless, isn’t she ?!!!).
I was cool in there but I did let two or three people to go in front of me so that I could look around a bit (looking is free!!!) and just when I was about to pay for my needles, I saw a skein of pale grey yarn on the floor. My clumsiness, again. But, there wasn't a single yarn in the same colour on the shelf so I had to ask the shop owner where to put it! She said- «Oh, just leave it anywhere, it's the last one, anyway!» . Suddenly, my eyes were THIS big!!!! I was looking at that skein in my hand… the skein was smiling back at was an instant attraction! YOU'RE MINE!!!!
I didn't care that it was grey… I didn’t know what it was made of… nothing! The adrenaline was already pumping! The great thing about this «ultimate challenge» was that – there really was only ONE skein. No more in the shop, or in my home…the only skein in town! Now- that is a REAL one-skein project! What a thrill!

I mean- I could go bungee- jumping but...what's the point? I can always ask that nice lady to call me when she finds another «last skein» in her shop!

OK- so, the next thing to do was to examine the characteristics of the yarn and decide what to do with it. Not a brilliant situation, at all! Pure acrylic (no wonder no one wanted the poor one)! How do they make pure acrylic yarn, anyway? Do they spin it like wool? I can't even imagine it on a spinning wheel- the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word «acrylic», is a beautiful painting. I like acrylic paintings!
But, it didn't really matter it was 100% unnatural, after all. It was yet another challenge- what can be made from a SINGLE skein of ACRYLIC yarn? It's not really skin-friendly so gloves were out of the question. A hat- same problem! And there was absolutely not enough yarn for a scarf or a wrap....I didn't need a pale grey purse (though- I did think of Norah Gaughan’s modular purses)...BUT, it's the turtleneck time and I love turtlenecks. I always wear them in January. If I make a neck warmer- it will basically never touch my skin and there's plenty of yarn for one in this skein. (Finally, it was all about the excitement of making something- I'll probably give it as a gift to someone later)!

I knew I should use an «economical» pattern but eyelet-holes didn’t seem like a good choice for a neck warmer! I needed something slip-stich-ish! k1, s1 wyif – bingo! Knitting only every second stitch in odd numbered rows spares a lot of yarn.
So, this is how this process looked like...

It was a sport-ish yarn, about 11wpi and 5mm needles seemed like the best choice. The result -puffy but not too loose! I got the gauge of 17 sts / 17rows=10 cm(4inches) – just what I wanted – and there was no need to cast on more than 28 stitches (I was thinking of working with 30 but...adding these two extra stitches was just calling for a trouble!). 70 rows and it was almost 0.5 m (20 inches) long- enough! Bind off, break the yarn!
So far, it looked good. Only a bit pale-ish! This called for some extra contrasting yarn! (Is using additional yarn in the «ultimate one-skein project» called cheating??? Oh, please say it isn't because I won't look smart anymore! It's just for decoration!). I found some leftovers from my Buttony cardigan and I believe it was just the best choice- another grey only now charcoal yarn. This yarn is, actually, way thicker than the pale one and not really a material for an I-cord but, it was either that or a dull one-colour neck warmer! A 4sts (3+1sts) and about 90cm (35 inches) long I-cord was all I needed to get rid of that dullness! And I think it worked! It's a funny thing, the I-cord, I mean- just compare the pictures of the neck warmer before and after the I-cord has been attached- it suddenly looks so classy!
I have recently been looking at some pictures in «Knitting on the Edge» and «Knitting Beyond the Edge» and that is exactly where I think the I-cord idea came from so, I gave this garment a working title «On the Edge Neck Warmer». But when it was finished, that shape looked somehow familiar!

Do you know what it reminded me of? THIS!

Remember this silly hat Greta Garbo wore in Ninotchka ? (You haven't seen Ninotchka??? I won't even comment that! :))) ) . It was, definitely, a Ninotchka neck warmer!!!

But, the excitement continues! After finishing the neck warmer, there was only 1/3 of my magical skein left. Though it looks much bigger in the picture, it was a very skinny skein at this point.
Once again - millions of ideas and millions of «NO-s!» Luckily, I had another «On the Edge strike of inspiration"! Wrist Cuffs! (I don't think I like the sound of this – please, bare in mind, this is a nice place!). I'll make decorative cuffs! Quite a useless garment, of course, but it's not as though I had a lot of options with only 1/3 of a skein left. And they can look quite cool.

But, before starting- the skein had to be divided into two equal balls (otherwise, I might have ended up with only one cuff)! I used 6mm needles this time (just in any case) and only 20 stitches. Three rows of 1p,1k ribbing and then the «neck-warmer» pattern again. 10 cm (4inches) for the knitted part plus the additional 2cm (1inch) long crocheted edging seemed like a reasonable length for a cuff (or height, depending of your point of view!). I didn't work in circle because, I CO the minimal number of stitches and wasn't sure if it would actually fit my hand in the end. In case it didn’t, I would have had to make an insertion (made from a different yarn). Luckily, there was no need for that so I just seamed the edges of that block together. Barely! See this "almost a-yarn-tail something" inside the red circle???

That's the yarn tail after finishing the first cuff! And look at the length of the CO tail! My CO tails are usually ten times longer but working on an ultimate-challenge project can really turn your perception upside-down, can't it? It seemed like such a waste of yarn!
I, didn't have to break the yarn this time, of course! :))) (Did you know that a grey acrylic yarn - literally - turns green when it starts burning? I knew there was something extraterrestrial about that yarn the moment I saw it on the floor!)

An extra edging made from the "I-cord yarn" and a mini flower and my first cuff was finished. I wanted a pale grey spot in the middle of this flower but at this point I was really working with micro pieces of yarn.

The good thing was- I knew that there was still just enough yarn for the second cuff.

And, here it is- the ultimate 'Ninotchka neck warmer and wrist cuffs’ set!

Though, that Ninotchka hat was probably not grey at all! It was the film that was made in b&w technology! Doesn't really matter- I'll turn my Ninotchka into b&w too! No problem!

I quite like the fact that this neck warmer resembles this hat, actually. But- I didn’t know it was going to happen so, I think I should now start paying more attention to what I do. Especially if I decide to make a dress! I’d be in a huge problem if it would turn out to look like THIS ONE!
You can download the 'Ninotchka' neck warmer pattern form HERE!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

A WOOOOOORM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



And, NO, I won't turn off the CAPS LOCK because I'm still screaming!!!!!

Why did I have to find a WORM in my yarn? I don't know anyone who has ever found a WORM in a skein of yarn! I don't know anyone who actually has any yarn at home but that doesn't change the fact that there are no evidences of a WORM living in a skein of yarn besides this one, DOES IT????!
Since when do WORMS like cotton yarn? Do they like cotton? What could they possibly do with it? WHAT WAS HE DOING THERE????? Was he eating it? Or wearing it? He can't wear a skein of yarn before I knit it, how stupid can he be? DOES HE, MAYBE, THINK HE IS A SILKWORM???? A COCOON? OOOOHHHHH, great- not only have I found a WORM in my yarn but HE is also schizophrenic!!!! A maniac !!!! May I just say he was completely naked when I found HIM??? Exposing himself like that in front of an innocent, fine young lady (ME) like that ?!!!?!!!?!!?!!!!!?!!!!!!

And how the hack did he get in there????? I know, he probably got there 4 months ago when I had to leave the basket with that skein out on my balcony for a few days but:

FIRST OF ALL: I live on the 8th floor and, there are no WORMS up here. There has never been a single WORM here. Plus, the basket was on a very high shelf- how did he manage to climb up there in just 3 days? Since when does a WORM walk so swiftly??? Did HE drop out of a plane??? Into my yarn????????????
SECOND (OF ALL) : I don't live on the 8th floor- I don't even know that much any more! I I live on the 6th floor. I think! Well, it's high, anyway!!!!
THIRD: that basket has been inside the house since then!!!! How did he manage to survive? Do worms like heated houses? Or is HE some kind of a freak. A WARM WORM or something like that???? Does he have a family???? (I don't recall anyone paying the rent recently!!!!)
FOURTH( I guess): How long do they live?????


And how should I take this- as a massage? Why did it have to happen to me of all people????? Is it something like when you find a worm in an apple? «If it's good for a worm than it is certainly good for a man»! Is that it? Is this because I've been refusing to use this yarn for more than two years and because I'm still angry with myself for choosing pink over burgundy??? Is that what this is about? Is HE suggesting that PINK was a better choice after all??? WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS??????? A fashion adviser ????? I don't need some WORM to tell me which colour looks better on me!!!!!!!!

I threw that skein out on the balcony! I had to take a walk. Or shoot myself.
Someone found it outside while I was away. And decided to put it back into my room! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

It's outside again! They're both outside. That WORM and his skein. He can have it. I don't want it anymore. He can eat it, if he wants to! He can wear it! He can knit it...I couldn’t care less! I'll even give him two needles!

AND, N.O., I DIDN'T TAKE ANY PHOTOS!!! Do you want to know what it looked like- find a picture of a WORM on the Internet and than take a picture of a skein of yarn. Now open your Photoshop and blend these two pictures together! You think it looks weird??? Well, you bet it is weird!!!

I HATE THAT WORM! And now all sorts of animals protection organizations will be after me for saying this and expressing my hostility towards animals! Really???? WELL, WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO- TO TAKE A WORM WHO THINKS HE IS A SILKWORM TO A PSYCHIATRIST??? To pay for HIS therapy??? Do you think writing this makes me happy? I wanted this blog to be a place for constructive thoughts and now I am forced to publish a severely destructive post that will probably be labelled as politically incorrect!!! Well, mind you- I LOVE ANIMALS! I love dogs! Tigers! Bears! Penguins... And I would LOVE to find a penguin in one of my baskets some day! I'd even make him a nice scarf! I'd let him pick the yarn he likes! Adopt him! Feed him! Oh, but, NOOOO- I had to find a WORM! I never get what I want, do I?



End of transmission!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Gloveless tradition (or Story about a silly lumberjack)

I make gloves! Yes, I do! Or, to be more precise, I have recently started making them! Not that I thought I would but I did! So far I have already made a few pairs and I think it is just the beginning of a new passion. And, each time I discover a new passion and start making a garment I had never made before, I try to learn as many facts about it as possible; where does it come from?; are there any special techniques?; how do people in other countries and on other continents make it?; do they still make it?;...Finally, I like to learn everything there is to know about how my ancestors used to make it so that, hopefully, one day I could do a little «homage» to my tradition by making one, obeying to the rules set by masters from the past. It rarely happens, though, because, living in Slavic / Mediterranean cultural environment that has experienced some strong influences from the Oriental countries in the past and with my origins being Slavic– traditional knitting in my case generally means: a world of stunning stranded colour-work and amazing ornaments. And me- I'm just not that type of knitter so, I usually end up admiring other people's work and making a pattern of my own.

This time, before starting my new “traditional gloves investigation", I knew that, during my search, just like any other time, I'd pretty much come across zillions and zillions of motley pieces and breathtaking colour patterns but little did I know that I wasn't going to find a single GLOVE! The one with fingers, I mean! A real glove! No, not a single pair! Mittens? Yes! Mitts? Yes? Wrist-warmers? Yes! Gloves? NO! Why? I haven’t got the slightest idea! Apparently, my ancestors did not make gloves (I’m devastated)!

And what bothers me the most is that this culture is widely known for its knitting. In the old days, people would spend days and days trying to make a new pattern or figure out another master’s technique constantly, competing with each other; making sure their unfinished works are well hidden when another knitter comes to visit; accusing each other of stealing secret patterns; knitting these tiny and perfectly even stitches until they start feeling cramps in their fingers or until it is too dark to see… spending hours and days of their lives knitting and thinking about knitting and one has ever made a glove!
Pretty Slavic, if you ask me! Accidental above practicality! Yap, “I’d rather work barehanded in the middle of January than make gloves with fingers if my intarsia pattern can not fit into that shape!

Ever since that disturbing discovery, I've been going back to that story over and over again, desperately and unsuccessfully trying to find excuses and explanations. And each time I'd think about it, the same story would unfold in front of my eyes- about hundred years ago, a man wakes up just before dawn in his home high up in a mountain and starts getting ready to go to work. Maybe he is a lumberjack...Yes, he is a lumberjack and he'll be spending the next ten or so hours working hard in a forest.

Just before leaving his home, he must build the fire so that the house would be worm when his children wake up. And by the hearth- he finds a new pair of beautiful mittens his wife had left him. The last time he saw her knitting them, the evening before, she was still working on the first glove; she must have knitted the night away so that she could finish them before he wakes up. Do I need to mention how beautiful they are?? She is the best mitten maker in their area; widely known for her amazing patterns and secret cast-on method no one else knows how to make!

He puts his new mittens on his rough hands and leaves the house. He is heading towards the forest, walking impatiently and looking forward to meeting his “fellows”.
As soon as he notices them from the distance, he'll start waving at them, talking loudly and vigorously gesturing while pointing into a direction where he thinks "a wolf might be hiding as he speaks". But no one will look into that direction because, the moment they see him coming, they’ll know- there’s no wolf- it’s a new pair of mittens on his hands he wants them to see. And they’ll know he'll continue making jokes and loudly greeting each one of them until he is sure everyone has seen the beauty on his hands . Then he'll proudly take his new mittens off and start working. Just the thought of them inside his pockets will be enough to worm up his bare hands for the rest of the day. The others will silently watch him make his theatrical gestures while secretly admiring his lady' work. Oh, they're all wearing beautiful mittens made by their wives, their mothers and sisters,of course they are-but they well know that what his wife can make is hardly just a pair of mittens- it’s a rare pair of identical miracles no mittens can compete with.

Did you spot anything unusual in this story? Let me "rewind" this sentence: "Then he'll proudly take them off and start working. " HE WILL, ACTUALLY, TAKE THEM OFF WHEN HE MOST NEEDS HIS HANDS TO BE WORM. He can’t work with his hands “wrapped” inside the mitten- he needs his fingers to be free!!! Free(zing)!!!!

Now, I don't know how this story ends but my lumberjack will most likely go back home in the evening, thank his wife for that pair of mittens and probably peek into her knitting basket to see the beginning of a new miracle. Maybe this time it’s a pair of socks! For him!
What I don't understand about that evening hundred years ago, is this- when our lumberjack did get home from work– WHY, ON EARTH, DIDN’T HE TELL HIS WIFE: “M'am, I think we need to invent some fingers for these mittens! I could really use a few more! Maybe we could call them gloves!?» If he had only said that, he might have saved our tradition from being glove-less and make me a very proud person. But he didn't! And, I don't know why! Maybe he was worried of what other people might have said if he had shown up one day wearing these funny garments and with a separate coat for each finger on his hand!? Perhaps...or maybe there’s another explanation I just can’t seem to be able to think of! Hopefully, someone will explain this to me one day!

OK, so, now that I'm short on pictures of traditional gloves, I'll just have to show you my works! I have already mentioned the first Lollipop convertible pair of gloves for my sister and here’s what I’ve made since the beginning of December.:

Mermaid gloves for my friend Sunny. I had a real hard time deciding what kind of present to make for her since her style is very casual! She hates «girlish» colours and I can bet that she could just as easily label a stitch pattern as "girlish" , too. But, she is also a painter and a great hand-made-gift target! So, I decided to make her a pair of fingerless gloves (original enough for her taste), use a geometrical pattern (she is a very geometrical type of person) and to use dark green yarn (it goes well with her style yet it's not as boring as a pair of black gloves). I just love this Mermaid pattern!

And, having said that- I decided I’d make another pair, only now in grey and on smaller needles (2,5cm instead of 3,5cm like for the first pair). After finishing them, I had to make another pair for my sister (a promise is a promise) and, after seeing my Mermaid gloves, she decided she'd like something similar only glove-shaped. At that point I really needed a break from Pomotamus stitch pattern (not that I didn’t enjoy working on it but still...) and so I decided to use a similar “slanting shells” pattern which, I think, works better for this type of gloves.

I really liked how they turned out but my sister wanted a pink bow! A pink what??? I thought they looked just fine as they were but- "We can take special orders according to customers' request", and so - a pink bow on Pagliacci gloves it is! (It took me more time to make that bow than to knit the rest of the glove...)

And there's another pair of gloves waiting for me to finish them. But I don't think I will. They look awful! Guess who I’m making these for- me, of course. My hands are perfectly disciplined when they’re making gloves for other people’s hands but when I want to make a cool pair of gloves for them, they decide to turn my work into a disaster. They're even more stupid than that lumberjack from my story!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

80 facts about my knitting

How did you learn to knit? From a book? On a course? From your mother or grandmother?
I was taught by my Mom, which means that I am home taught. If your story is similar to mine than you probably have a very good picture of what made me write down this list!

Learning a new virtue is a sort of initiation- an initiation into a club of people from all around the world who love and practice the same craft. We may all be speaking different languages but, move it-squeeze it-fold it , we eventually find the mutual language. The reason -we all know the magic!

But the fact is, the moment we gain that precious knowledge, we instantly start thinking that everyone else is doing everything exactly the same as we do and we are convinced that, if we could only shout loud enough for the whole world to hear us : "make one twisted stitch", at least 45 millions of knitters from around the world would instantly do the same thing - make a twisted stitch and make exactly as we would.
Yet, it  turns out that the things don't work like that at all. Soon enough we learn that some knitters do not hold the yarn the same way you do; that some other knitters finish their work at the point where we usually begin or that knowing to turn the heel does not mean that we can knit every single sock there is.
Finally, sooner or later, we face the ultimate shocking truth-  that our normal knit stitch is considered twisted in almost 50% of all the countries you know of (the less countries you know of, the less you suffer! ). Other knitters knit through the opposite loop all the time and call it normal??? Oh, give me a break! You might have just s well told me that they breathed air and drank water!

But, the truth is - everyone should have their own style- because, like it or not  - what we're dealing with here is not just a craft, it's the ART od knitting.

So, consider this post to be the result of my decision to come out with all the secrets about my knitting or at least with all the facts that I can think of at the moment!

  1. I'm a right handed knitter (that's shocking, i know!)

  2. I knit using the Eastern Uncrossed Style (or Eastern European Style as it is sometimes called) and I always knit into the back of the stitch

  3. I hold the yarn with my left hand and never wrap it around my finger(s) (except when crocheting), instead I hold it between fingers

  4. A twisted stitch (tbl stitch), in my case, means «through the front of the loop»

  5. I always knit bottom to top (I prefer starting from nothing over
    ending there)
  6. I always make swatches

  7. I was fully equiped when I first started knitting because my mother too is a knitter

  8. I inherited most of my needles

  9. I own a very old 1,5mm set of semi-DPNs with a crochet hook on one side
    and a knitting needle on the other  used for old-fashioned sock-knitting. This set belonged to my maternal grandmother

  10. I own only one pair of wooden (circular) needles and I got them as a gift, other needles are all made from stainless steel/INOX

  11. I NEVER use straight needles- they're too heavy (I use circular needles instead)

  12. I own cable needles of all sizes but I barely ever use them (I manage)
  13. I don't use stitch markers

  14. I keep my needles in: vases, mugs and in funny looking peanut cans

  15. I never know where my 4,5mm circular needles are

  16. I think there should be a second pair of 4,5mm circular needles somewhere in the house but no one has ever seen both pairs at the same time- that pair is my Loch Ness monster among needles

  17. My favourite needle size is 4mm

  18. It took me 7 years to start knitting with DPNs and now I can't live without them

  19. All DPN sets I own are 20cm (8' ') long

  20. All women in my familiy oer the past (at least) hundred years were knitters . Most of them knitted only socks.

  21. My late grandmother was a sock knitter. She was also the one who taught my mother how to knit. The only thing my mother never learned from her was- how to knit a pair of socks.

  22. I learned how to knit and crochet from my Mom

  23. I didn't learn how to make socks from my mother because she doesn't know how to make socks

  24. It took me nearly 7 years of serious knitting to start working on my
    first pair of socks and I had to search for explanations in a book

  25. No one in my family learns how to knit from a book- we inherit it

  26. I use only one cast on method (though I'm familiar with quite a few methods) - it  has been used in my family for decades

  27. The cast on method I use is similar to Long tail only mine has got an additional step which causes the stithes to appear in pairs

  28. The cast on method I use does not alow me to start working on most
    patterns right away because, once the stitches are cast on, I'm facing the wrong side of the work

  29. I always use the same cast off method (with knitting needles)

  30. I love making cable patterns

  31. I enjoy working with fuchsia and red yarns

  32. I love earth shades 

  33. I love the "hairy" touch of mohair on my fingers

  34. I can knit with a crochet hook

  35. I like knitting free style

  36. I barely ever copy-paste the whole project from a magazine onto my needles

  37. The only thing I'd rather buy than knit is stranded colourwork

  38. I usually get all tangled up in yarn when I try to work with more than one colour

  39. I don't wear hats but I like making hats! So,  I make them for other people

  40. I can successfully chase down a drifting dropped stitch for more than 20 rows
  41. I find unraveling patterns a lot more interesting than Suddoku

  42. I like making patterns

  43. I like adding crochet edgings to my knitted pieces

  44. I like 2k,2p ribbing better than 1p,1k

  45. I measure the tension of my fabric with a small ruler with cartoon characters on it (It's serious business!)
  46. I love crochet but, from a phase of fascination with that craft I somehow slipped into another, completely opposite phase: now I would like to knit everything that is commonly made with a crochet hook
  47. I decorate my crochet hooks and needle holders with nail polish (that's the artist in me!)

  48. I never break the yarn with scisors- instead I use a lighter (i like the smell of burning yarn. I like open fire! I'm not a dangerous person!)

  49. I tend to learn as much as I can about different knitting techniques but I generaly only use one

  50. I love to read about the history of knitting
  51. I find ethnic clothing very inspiring
  52. I adore Slavic embroidery, weaving, ornamental knitting and lacing

  53. I'm in love with Russian shawls from Orenburg

  54. I want to own one of them

  55. I also intend to make (at least) one

  56. I own an enormous collection of knitting magazines and books published within the past 30+ years

  57. Some of these magazines are older than me

  58. Some of the babies in my magazines are probably of the same age as my parents
  59. I have found a picture of a baby from one of my old magazines printed in the early '80. again in 2006. He was still only 3 months old.

  60. The magazines I own are in 6 different languages

  61. I can, basically, knit in 6 languages

  62. When I was a kid I used to "decorate" the ladies in knitting magazines with a pen. None of them has ever left my hands without at least one black tooth

  63. I still buy knitting and crochet magazines

  64. My favourite magazine is Verena in German although I don't understand a single word in it

  65. My grandmother loved sharing her pattern charts with her neighbours. At the same time- she didn't like sharing patterns with them. So she cheated! Her philosophy was simple - always make a chart when they ask you to! Then add a few mistakes. When they come back to complain, just say- OH, my, how could have I missed that?! Then write down another pattern with new mistakes.

  66. I think most editors cheat – I have to make a correction in every third chart (my grandmother has had a lot of influence on them)

  67. One year I ruined the shade on one of my IKEA lamps and had to make a new one. I decided to knit it. The very next year IKEA decided to steal my idea!

  68. I don't knit in public- drug addicts never consume ilegal substances in public

  69. I don't mind asking strange people to show me their sweater

  70. Sometimes, when I run out of wool wash I use shampoo to wash my sweaters and shawls but I have never washed my hair with a liquid wool wash (yet!)

  71. I usually straighten my recycled yarn under a hot shower

  72. When I knit- I knit! No distractions, please!

  73. I used to make pocket money from knitting when I was a student

  74. I hate it when people tell me- «Lucky you- you can make yourself a sweater!» Well, why don't you learn how to do it?!  It's not as if I was born that way!

  75. I sometimes make buttons and decorative needles for my projects
  76. I want to become a spinner

  77. I'm searching for wool rowing (or sheep, whichever)

  78. Each time I ask someone if there is a sheep farm in our county,  I'm given a phone number of a goat farm!

  79. Each time I say "These are goats, not sheep", I get the same answer: "Is it such a big difference, they're hairy too, aren't they?"

  80. I want to knit a sweater with the wool of a black sheep. I would name it after ME!

Could be continued...

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Saving sweater strategy

The sweater on this picture looks like a regular, not so sensational men's sweater in black&white. And it would be «just a sweater» if the story about how it has been made didn't hide and extremely dramatic phase of saving it from becoming a blanket! :D And, here I mean- a huge blanket!

About a year ago we had plenty of this black and white yarn stashed and my Mom suggested my father she'd make him a sweater and asked him if he had any ideas! He’s got many sweaters she has made him during the past 30 years, all rich in outstanding stitch patterns and beautiful colours; three-colours entrelac turtleneck sweaters, vests in amazing cabled patterns, worsted aran cardigans... And now he suddenly wanted a plain striped sweater in two colours. A W.H.A.T.??? (One can really get annoyed by so many beautiful handmade gifts, can't he?!!) He, of course, got an instant «NO» answer! So, they managed to reach the agreement – she'll make him a «plain» sweater in two colours similar to those old-fashioned yoke sweaters (I believe he was going through a retro phase! It must be it!) but under one condition – he must not tell anyone it was her who had made it! I mean- every sweater is representative for his creator, right? - so, if anyone would find out it was her who had made something like that, that strange person (AND potentially dangerous for her reputation) might think she can only knit in stocking stitch! (God forbid!!!) Finally, knitting in stockinette can be a huge pain in the back! (Or you could fall asleep in the middle of knitting the upper half of the second sleeve! Inconvenient!). And so he did make a promise! A fair trade if you ask me! (The only thing I don’t remember is- who the elected faux-knitter was ! :) )
We weren't too thrilled by this agreement but- there you go, a stockinette stitch sweater in b&w!

She then decided to double the strand which, making a sweater look puffier, would also allow her to work with black, white and b&w combination of strands resulting in tweed-ish look. We had a deal! (I wasn’t a included in that projects at the time but I’m always looking forward to seeing what sweaters for my Dad will look like- big garments somehow increase the beauty of the pattern used! Not that there was a pattern this time but…still…)

Now, before I continue, I must point this out- my Mother is a master knitter. She really is! She has been knitting “seriously” for over 35 years (which, of course, in case she ever reads this, means she has started knitting when she was only two years old! :))) ). Not only does she knit well but her creations are simply outstanding. She never liked «copy-pasting» patterns from magazines onto her needles! Instead, she’d pick a stitch patter and include it in her own creation, or adjust the shape she had seen somewhere and add a different pattern! Or, even, invent one! (Luckily, I inherited that approach from her.) After looking at any stitch pattern and comparing it to the instructions, she can instantly tell whether there is a mistake and how to correct it. If there are no charts or instructions- she can write them down in no time just by looking at a pattern! We got used to unknown people approaching her when she's wearing one of her projects long time ago- they sometimes just want to touch the surface of the sweater/dress/cardigan... or see it better. And I'm serious- I'll put some pictures here some day so that you can see it for yuorself- truly magnificent pieces!
BUT- there's one thing; she has never (EVER) made a single swatch! She doesn't like swatches! She makes them only to test out a new pattern but never to calculate the number of stitches. I think she even gets nervous when she sees me doing that! (Boffin!!!) In 99% she does everything right! But... Well, this was one of these «but» situations. What fascinates me is that, when she notices a sweater is growing too wide (it's never too small), she continues to knit hoping for a miracle to happen. And sometimes it, actually, does- she comes up with a trick or two and somehow manages to adjust the shape and size. Not always, though!. It's easy when you're making a huge man's sweater- but when knitting a vest for a 16 years old way! A 16 years old teenager would declare a royal tailor insane and accuse him of trying to make her look «huge»! (And fire him!).
So, if the sweater does turn out to be too big no matter what she does to save it - she doesn't stop there either- she usually says "it is just fine" (do not estimate the power of persuasion!). When you say that, either all mirrors in the house or that sweater should definitely be changed- she simply tells you- "you might gain a few pounds and what will you do then?". No way out, my friends!

OK , so, back to the sweater – my father was away when she started knitting the front part. When the front part was just about 20 cm (8 inches) high, I thought it looked a bit strange. There was no way to check if it fits (and don't ask me why neither one of us had thought of comparing it to one his sweaters!) and, so, I decided to keep my mouth shut. But, 20 cm later- I was sure «she had lost control»! The front part of the sweater was growing under her fingers like dough pastry, turning the sweater into a blanket or, even more likely - into a tent. But, oh my - she thought it was just fine. So I took her work and spread what was supposed to be just one half of the sweater over her bed and - it was a king size blanket! I suggested her to leave it on side and wait until he arrives back home - then we’d know for sure. He came a few days later, tried it on and... if he had only decided to go for a walk wrapped in «that something» , he would have made lot of kids very happy that day! :))) It was hilarious! One word- H.U.G.E.!!!
And, so the drama begins! My Mom wants to frog it in a split of a second! My father is still hoping it can be saved because he feels sorry – no way could he wear it but, again, all the effort... I decide to be constructive (it's in my nature, can't fight it! :D ) and, before you know it- I'm in charge of the whole project! Ok, so I started running around my father like John Galliano taking his measures and eliminating my preliminary ideas one by one.
Could edges be attached together? In that case, I could simply continue knitting in circle!
No, 10 cm too short! (No one suggested weight loss as a potential solution!). :)
Ok, then, we could transform it into cardigan- it still hasn't reached the underarm height so, why not adding a 10cm panel on both sides after the cardigan is finished; one withbuttons and the other one with buttonholes ? Another «NO»- he wants a sweater! (Great time to be picky!).
And then, finally, the enlightening moment- I'll simply add a «patch»- a rectangular shape which I'll put between the edges and sew them all together into a tube. A connection patch! When I attach two pieces, I'll simply switch to working in circle.

The yarn was already very thick and knit in stocking stitch - the gauge wasn't going to get any tighter, was it?! So I knew I should, then, use a 1p,1k ribbing pattern for my patch to make the "tube" (yet to be made) more flexible (the, so called- accordion effect!)

Once I reach the height of the rest of work (made by my Mom), I'll transfer all the stitches onto the same needle and continue working in rounds (as if nothing has happened! :) ) ! And so I did! When "the patch" was as high as the "blanket part" , I attached the edges with a crochet hook, just so that I'd have all the stitches in the same level and continued working in circle. But, when my father saw these temporary "hems", he liked them so much that I decided to keep them. He said they were «cool»!
Only a few rows after all the stitches were transfered onto the same circular needle it was "sleeves» time. I made them in stockinette stitch (not before he had promised me he wouldn't tell anyone it was, now, me who had made that :)) ) and continued working in circle until I had reached the neck line. I wanted it to be a turtleneck but he's not really a turtleneck fan –he says he has to shave every day when wearing one so that his stubble wouldn't turn the yarn back into fleece (fair enough)- so, I made a 100% stubble friendly semi-turtleneck. :D And, there you go- he is now literally “wrapped” in the front part of the sweater!

This is still just a plain sweater- only a sweater with a story! ;-)

Friday, 2 January 2009

To do or not to do

Hiya, and Happy New Year to all of you! :)

For the past few days I've been thinking about the mess mentioned in my previous post and how to bring some order in it and I think I have finally reached my most constructive phase- I have got a plan! :) Now, my main problem was wanting to do it all and not knowing how! The answer was- I can't do it all! Not at the moment , anyway, so, I'll simply have to make a selection. Then I'll make a priority top list. And so I did- first this, then that... It still didn't work! Why? Because of the second biggest obstacle in my head- it's not only these unfinished objects I have to decide when to continue working on; I've got some other plans for this winter too. (Winter having only 3 months in average would be my third obstacle :) ). It wasn't until then that I realised -under the pressure of finishing the projects that have been collecting dust in my baskets, I was constantly starting some small projects with no head or tail and have kept on and on leaving them on side just like those sad pieces from my previous post. The only way to make this organisation really make some sense and help me finish all these projects was to simply temporarily «forget» about some of the them. If finishing my Vogue capecho annoys me that much, I'll think about it after I finish other things. It's not really a «kidney friendly» piece to wear in January, after all. Once the spring comes- I'll have one very, very easy job to do- to finish the sleeve and my capecho will be ready to wear! The quantity of smart ideas coming from my own brain was stunning (as you have probably noticed.) :)
OK, now, in order to organise all of my projects, regardless of when I intend to finish them- I had to make some categories (bah, that 's how pathetic I am, not only did I make a huge mess here but I have be my own controller too! And a tough one!). First- I invented the «burning projects» category and had to decide which projects to label as BP. After choosing them, I made a priority list. Then I invented the «Stand by» category and labeled all the projects that I intend to continue or start working on soon but not before burning projects are all finished as "SB". Once I finish all the projects from my Top to-do list, I'll make another list for this «stand by» crowd. Finally, just like most of my plants, some of these projects had to be declared «dormant species»! If there is no way to finish them before April (and I certainly don't intend to knit sweaters then), they'll simply have to continue hibernating for now. For some of them it won't be the first winter they had to spend sleeping in my baskets. But now- they have been recognised and labeled. As D- projects!!! (It's always good to have a name!)

So, this is my plan:

«D» category

- Red NLO- dormant!!! The only thing I have to do is to frog it and straighten the yarn. No hurry, though!
- Striped «Indian summer» sweater- dormant!!! (no change)
- Entrelac scarf- frog!!! And start a new one! The one I'll actually like!

«SB» category

- Cabled white sweater- nothing for now. If a good idea strikes me (and I manage to survive) soon, I'll try it. If not- I'm afraid it might be declared a dormant species as well.

- Lacy beige cardigan- I'll think about it in February!
- Vogue capecho- spring!!!!!

Now, my Top list of «to-do» projects:

1. finish my Mermaid gloves
2. make another pair of gloves for my sister. She's home on a short break before the end of the autumn semester and she's going back this weekend which puts this project on the second place. I can squeeze in a pair of gloves here!
3. make two mug cozies for my friends
4. start making a denim-patchwork bag for my friend Ivana (it's got nothing to do with knitting but it is something I have postponed a few times this month. I'll cut it into 3 phases to reduce the pressure (how smart! :D )
5. finish my neck-warmer
6. start making a new entrelac scarf (no need to finish it right away, entrelac is fun to knit when you don't know what else to do. I've got plenty of scarfs as is)
7. finish the second round of patchwork bag
8. make myself a new pair of beige gloves
9. finish patchwork bag
10. make a beautiful :) cabled wrap
11. get some sleep :D

OK, that's it. To prevent myself form cheating- I made a promise (to myself again- I've been talking to ME a lot lately, apparently) that, if I decide to change something, I'd rearrange the priority list rather than make a new mess and lose controll again.

I think it has started working already- I did finish my mermaid gloves and I'm only 3 fingers away (as weird as it may sound) from finishing a pair of gloves for my sister.

:a very very proud smiley:

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