Knitting Woes

I have a lousy relationship with knitting.

I love knitting dishcloths. I love knitting anything where I don’t have to get gauge. But the garments and accessories I’d really like to make? They’ve become my mortal enemy.

I think this is partially because I haven’t knit many of these sorts of things, so I don’t have an eye for them yet. I think this is partially because I don’t knit enough to have developed a consistent gauge. I think this might also be due to the issue that all knitters face with getting a gauge swatch to have anything to do with the larger garment.

But every. single. time. I’ve tried to knit this sort of thing I’ve failed miserably. My CPH wound up in the pond. I’m about to throw these lovely gloves out the window. (I adore the 4-ply version even more, but I couldn’t even get *close* on that one).

Hell, I started a garter stitch scarf last night and promptly discovered that it was so not a good way to get rid of my stray skeins of Homespun. Not a good way at all.

I think I ought to put the needles away for a while. It might save what little is left of my sanity.

This is what I did to my crochet:

I’ve been slowly working on a Vintage Vertical Stripe afghan for the last year or two, and I’ve been rather severely hampered by the fact that I made it way, way too long to start with. I was planning to have the stripes run vertically on a bed, and I totally overestimated how long it would need to be, which I suppose was my penalty for starting it while I was in the middle of the woods.

So when I realized I was never going to finish it, and when I realized that I really, *really* didn’t want to send it to the frog pond, I decided to try something radical. Worst case, it gets tossed. best case, it gets revived. Why not?

After carefully cutting a couple of feet off of it, I started unraveling the cut edge and reworking the last stitch or three. I did one row at a time and worked up:

On the “wrong side” rows, it took a little more finagling and working some twisted stitches, but it came out looking fine. The right side was dead simple. By about halfway through I was fairly certain that what I was doing would actually work.

And with another half-hour of work, I discovered it had.

I have some weaving of ends to do, but I needed to do that anyway.

I won’t lie. I feel dreadfully clever. And I’m pretty excited that I’ll most likely finish the thing now. How could I not?

Proof of Concept socks

A few weeks ago I had a fit of ambition and decided to learn to knit 2-at-a-time toe-up socks.

I found them shockingly easy.

They’re sloppy and ugly and they don’t fit, because I didn’t have the tips to go down my more typical couple-of-needle-sizes. They’re made from Cascade 220 and I’ll probably wash them accidentally at some point.

But you know what? I feel really freaking awesome right now.

(This knitting accomplishment once again brought to you by Silver’s Sock Class.)

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Correction of Errors

Last Saturday I had to take a trip into the Walmart Supercenter that’s just down the road from my house. This is the one that they remodeled a couple of years ago, eliminating the fabric counter and at least half the yarn in the process. I used to work in that store, and after the fabric was gone I don’t think I made it through a day without suggesting to at least one shopper that they call corporate customer service and tell them how unhappy the lack of proper crafty offerings was making them.

I suspect some of them did. And if you figure even one customer a week per Walmart that had its fabric removed calling to complain over the last two years, apparently it adds up to this:

I was heading down toward sporting goods when I saw something out of the corner of my eye that stopped me in my tracks. It was a bolt of fabric. And along with it? More bolts of fabric. And when I peered around the end of the aisle, I discovered something I never expected to see in a Walmart store again: a fabric counter. And they were busy, too. Ten o’clock in the morning and there was an associate cutting fabric and a couple of people waiting in line.

So just for fun I headed down a couple of aisles to take a peek at the yarn. I’m not sure it’s quite as large a section as they once had, since it’s arranged so differently that it’s hard to tell. But the footage that they have now is about double what they had immediately after the remodel. I was going to walk down and see what exactly they had, but the aisle was blocked by people shopping.

I’m shocked and oddly pleased that Walmart has responded to the unhappiness with the changes it made by actually changing it back. No matter how you feel about Walmart, I think this is a good thing.

The Tyranny of Ritual

A big reason that I don’t get more done crafting-wise (and life-wise, too, tbh) is something that I’m coming to think of as “the tyranny of ritual”: that is, there are too many damned preconditions to doing anything to get anything done.

This is sort of upside-down from how I expect things to work. Ritual is supposed to be good for creativity, right? How many times have you been told that to (for example) write well it is helpful to write at the same time every day or at the same desk or to always brush your teeth first or some other variation on the theme that if you arrange your body properly your mind will follow? Half a hundred, I’d guess. Possibly half a hundred this month alone, if you hang out with the right folks.

There is no denying that you really can affect your creative mood this way, or that you can help yourself through small rituals to slip into the flow just as you can help yourself drift off to sleep with some of the same tactics. You also run the risk, however, of not being able to work without the creative equivalent of your favorite teddy bear. This is the problem that I’m having right now.

If this and that and the other thing have to be right before you can start, and you have a full-time job and three kids and relationship issues and money problems and all of the other things that most of us deal with in one combination or another, those required conditions can be paralyzing even if your required ritual is something as simple as brushing your teeth.

So I’m trying something new. I’m trying to learn to just jump in.

This post is an excellent example. The idea was at the top of my mind, and I wanted to write about it. Usually before I work on anything I feel like I have to have my morning ducks in a row; I’ve showered, had breakfast, checked around the internet for anything really exciting (OMG R. Lee Ermey with knitting in his hands!) and because feeling like I’ve caught up clears my own mental state up a bit for some reason. (I’ve been reading blogs in the morning for ten years or so now. It’s a terribly ingrained habit. Sort of like the overuse of parenthesis.) I used to have a cigarette or three. By the time I’m done with all of that, it’s either time to rush to work or time to hang out with the kids, and I don’t ever get to the important part: the work I’m doing, the work I love and feel like I never have time for. By the point where I feel I can really settle in and get something done, the launch window has closed.

So this morning I got up and took a shower and instead of making breakfast I came right in here and wrote about what was on my mind. And you know what? It felt good. Sure, I’m a bit hungry, but what’s a brief delay in breakfast versus spending a little time doing something you truly enjoy doing?

I think I’m going to spend a little more time breaking the tyranny of my rituals. I have the feeling I’m going to surprise myself.

A little of this, a little of that.

First handspun? I turned it into an adorable little bowl, which I of course can’t find a picture of right now. Of course.

So between the spinning and the work and the trip to PDX and everything else that’s been going on this month, I snuck in a few minutes to try overdyeing some laceweight with Kool-Aid. I don’t really knit with laceweight anymore (between my lack of patience for lace and the on-and-off hand problems), but I keep thinking I will and this had been in my stash for a while.

Before:

And after:

I did this a few weeks ago and don’t at all remember what colors I used. What I do know is that I am much more fond of the yarn in its current state and I’m thinking to try some crochet with it, most likely the new design that’s been beating the hell out of the back of my head for a while now. Hopefully I can do justice to the yarn!

New Obsession

Spinning may be my favorite fiber-related pursuit yet.

I put in a KnitPicks order a couple of weeks ago to get more Wool of the Andes bare for the kids to dye, and finally caved to temptation and got one of their spindles, some WotA roving, and a copy of Respect the Spindle. Since then I’ve made some gloriously awkward looking yarn and some progress in controlling what exactly I’m making.

And I’m finding that it’s a growing obsession in a way that I didn’t expect it to be. I spin before work, I spin after work. I turn off the computer and spin. (!) (Really!)

I’m making yarn!

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Why I don’t knit lace.

I have a deep and inexplicable need for my knitting to be insanely simple. I wouldn’t find this at all remarkable if it weren’t for the fact that I don’t feel the same way about crochet. Or at least not to the same extent.

I’ve tried knitting cables, and I’ve tried knitting lace. I’ve even succeeded a time or two. Hell, if the pattern is rhythmic enough, I’ve even enjoyed it.

Building that rhythm seems to be the key for me. I suspect this is why I took to spinning like the proverbial duck to water. (Nevermind that I’ve worked with it for all of an hour or so…I know love at first sight when I see it.)

I look at projects on Ravelry sometimes and wish for a few minutes that I were the kind of knitter that could and would make those things. But really? I’m happy over here in the corner with my dishcloths. Knitting for me is sort of like my old Birkenstocks…simple, useful, and dead comfortable.

Which would be why I love it.