Archive for the 'needles' Category

Marsha

Thrift stores FTW!

needlesftf.jpgLook what I found a few days ago. Yes, that’s right: it’s a bag full of circular needles, all for under two bucks. I could hardly believe my luck when I spied this (sitting n the store’s toy section, of all places) and could hardly wait to get home and inventory its contents.

The total haul: thirty-nine needles. There are 16″, 24″, and 32″ needles in pretty much every size from 1 to 10.5, with an occasional one missing in the middle and the added bonus of two 10.75 needles and a couple of 11s. The measurements are marked only in millimeters (not in U.S. sizes), and only one has a brand name on it: Takumi. Since it looks identical to the other needles (e.g., join, cable, needle), I’m guessing they’re all that brand.

I bet there’s a story behind this bag, but I can only guess at what it might be. My hunch is that these needles were donated by the relatives of a deceased knitter. But maybe that’s not it. Maybe the previous owner (still alive) just decided to abandon knitting after finding a new, exciting hobby (gardening! skydiving! dog sledding!) that now takes up all of his or her time and attention. Or perhaps this person has upgraded to a complete set of Addis or similarly fancy needles.

Me, I’m very grateful for have found this. Before, there were many, many gaps in my needle collection. Now, I feel well equipped for any project! (Well, aside from appropriate yarn, of course…)

dragonftf.jpgBelieve it or not, though, the bag o’ needles wasn’t the Big Find of the Day. Not according to Sylvia, at least. The moment she spied this dragon costume, we both knew it was perfect for her. (I don’t really need to explain why, do I? I mean, it’s a DRAGON. Pretty self-explanatory.) It’s too big for her, so the hood/head keeps falling over her face. But she’s still pretty darn happy to wear it!

Marsha

Free lunch: Bits and bobs

The Thrifty Knitter (and author of Naughty Needles has posted a free pattern for her Spring Forward Fall Back Raglan, perfect for the warm/cool days of spring and autumn.

Do you find yourself saving the “disposable” wooden chopsticks you get a restaurants, not wanting to add them to the local landfill but not sure what else to do with them? Try making your own knitting needles! (Tutorial here.)

The Worsted Witch points us toward a tutorial from Lion Brand Yarn on using edible items to dye yarn. I’ve heard before of using turmeric and onion skins and other things for this purpose, but it’s nice to have the information–with recipes!–in one place.

St. John Ambulance in London (UK) is asking knitters to help with its fundraising by knitting 5,000 (yes, five thousand) tea cozies (which will be sold throughout the UK) by the end of November. There’s a funky free pattern here, and knitters are invited to create their own patterns, too. (Via Crafty Crafty.)

Looking to participate in a knitting competition? Round two of the Walking Stick Cosy Competition is underway; submissions are due 1 May 2008.

Why throw down big bucks for a row counter bracelet when you can make your own?

Marsha

Concentration

I am very very fortunate to be part of a local knitting group. It’s been around for years (ten? fifteen?–long before I moved here or even started knitting), and I joined about a year and a half ago at the urging of two friends who are fellow knitters and parents of some of the kids in Sylvia’s playgroup. At the time, the group meet monthly at a local community center. Since then, we’ve decided that we like to knit together so much that we’ve added a monthly meeting at a local coffee shop and impromptu meetings at a bookstore. These “impromptu” meetings generally take place during a week when we’re not at the community center or the coffee shop. In short, we’re meeting pretty much every week. I love these evening get-togethers–partly as a chance to spend some time with grownups, partly as a chance to let my husband have some time on his own with our daughter (post-dinner playtime and bedtime), and partly because all of those women know a heck of a lot more about knitting than I do, and I get to learn a lot from them.

img_0001.jpgI’ve decided to knit a sweater for myself. It’s a wrap cardigan called Damson Wine that uses Rowan Kid Classic. I’m actually using the called-for yarn for this, though in a dark green rather than the original purple. I thought about throwing caution to the wind and just plowing right ahead, but since I don’t have the 7.5mm needles the (British) pattern calls for, I’m using the nearest equivalent, US11, which is just a smidge larger than the 10 7/8 the 7.5mm would be if they actually existed in U.S. sizes. My knitting is often a bit tight, so I figured the extra needle size would probably be a good thing.

With lots of help from my knitting pals to figure out exactly how many stitches to cast on, I knit a gauge swatch last night, using Jil Eaton’s technique of adding a few rows of garter stitch (I used four) at the top and bottom and three garter stitches on the left and right sides to create a tidy, easy-to-measure “box” of knitting in the middle. This pattern is a twelve-row knit pattern that uses 7.5mm needles on the odd rows and 5mm (US8) needles on the even rows. (Good thing I have Denise needles! I just put one of each size on either end of cable, and I’m good to go!)

This is not the ideal project to work on if you’re hanging out with a bunch of interesting people and aren’t familiar with this type of knitting. Let me just say this: I am a terrible multitasker. Truly awful. If my husband tries to talk to me while I’m addressing an envelope, I screw it up. If my little paladin is running across a wide-open space in the middle of the desert in (geek alert!) Tanaris, she has to stand still so I can type “Hello” to a friend who just logged on. And if I’m trying to knit a swatch with yarn-forwards and k2tog and skpo and all sorts of stuff like that–and different in every row–I cannot talk to anyone. (But I can listen to conversations, as long as they’re not the sort that expect a response from me. So maybe I have a teensy weensy bit of multitasking ability.) Fortunately, the gauge swatch didn’t take very long to do, so I was able to move on to a project that let me be a bit more social.

p8015774.jpgSo here it is, the gauge swatch in all its glory. As you can tell, it is unblocked. And after my friend Pat measured it about a dozen times to be sure, it still comes up about a quarter of an inch too short in each direction. So what to do? If I go up a needle size on the large needle, then I’m using a US13, which will surely be too large. If I go up a needle size on the small needle, then I’m using US9 and US11…and they might be so close in size that the big-small variation in the pattern gets lost. Pat’s advice: “Steam it, pin it to the measurements you want, then see how the yarn likes being stretched that way.” We’re both optimistic that blocking will do the trick–even just pulling the swatch by hand opened up the lace pattern nicely. I’ll keep my fingers crossed…

Thanks to my SP10, I finally have a super-cool case for my circular needles. Those of you who aren’t so fortunate to count her among your pals might want to take a look at this tutorial for making a circular-needle case out of an old hardcover book. Very, very cool!

Marsha

Happy birthday to me

Yupper, today is my birthday–just two days after Sylvia’s. Two years ago, when we were anxiously waiting for her to hurry up and get born already, Jan and I were worried that she’d end up sharing my birthday, which also happened to land on Mother’s Day that year. Talk about a triple whammy. Fortunately, she arrived two days earlier (one week after her due date), thus ensuring that she gets her very own birthday–which I think is important, since it’s awfully nice to have a birthday that’s your own special day, don’t you think?

In addition to the niceness of having family around to celebrate my birthday, I was also fortunate enough to receive several wonderful gifts, many of which were knitting/craft related. Simple Sewing: Patterns and How-To for 24 Fresh and Easy Projects by Lotta Jansdotter and Knitted Flowers by Nicky Epstein now grace my bookshelves, and a tote with seventeen (yes, that’s right–seventeen) pockets on the outside alone will insure that I don’t lose my crafting supplies.

My friends Gina and Todd gave me a Louet kit for handpainting sock yarn. It contains some incredibly soft wool sock yarn (enough for a pair), three different color-coordinated dyes, and–thank goodness–instructions. I am very much looking forward to trying this!

Last but not least, my Dutch father-in-law gave me a terrific set of knitting supplies. He doesn’t know anything about knitting, so he went to his local yarn store, a place called Charmant that’s in the next town over from his, and said, “I want to get something for someone who knits.” Fortunately, he was helped by someone who knew what they were doing (though I’m not surprised–I’ve been to this shop and was very impressed by how knowledgeable the staff were). She guided him toward the spring/summer 2007 issue of Babymode (Phildar No. 465), a set of 3.5mm needles (which is what most of the patterns call for), and twelve balls of a very soft cotton-acrylic blend Dutch yarn that’s pretty indistinguishable from Rowan All-Season Cotton.

There are lots of great patterns in here. I’m especially looking forward to making the two-toned cardigan with the tomten hood. Unfortunately, all of the written instructions are in Dutch–which I don’t read or speak. But I’m hoping that with the help of the pictures and schematics (not to mention Babelfish) I can figure them out!