Saturday, July 19, 2008

electronic woes

hello world! my updates have been taking increasingly longer to get posted because, once again, we're having computer related problems. i don't think it's the actual computer this time, i think it's our internet service. i've been having to write posts in about 4 sessions, and since blogger automatically saves your post every time there's a pause in the typeing, it's making the process exponentially slower. it's a really great feature when everything's running at peak performance, but not when your connection is so crappy. so, you'll have to forgive me if these updates are taking longer than normal!

there is something i would like to mention here before i get into any knitting news and forget. while knocking around the knit picks website ordering the yarn for my creativity 350 socks, i saw that that they will be debuting a new sock book called "Socks a La Carte". it is exactly the kind of book i've been searching for, and the current subject of most of this blog; sock toes, feet, legs and cuffs, that you can mix and match at will! just my kind of sock knitting!!! and although you won't be able to get your hands on it until december 31st, you can preorder it on amazon right now and have it automatically arrive at your doorstep after it drops!! i'm really excited about it and i'll most likely be buying it as soon as we have the money! i hope it's worth it, though, considering that i thought "Sensational Knitted Socks" was going to be formatted like that, but it has actual patterns. i like *recipes*.

so, after the last post i did some researching online looking for possible heels for my creativity 350 socks. i did come across some great resources *talked about and linked to in the last post* and came to the conclusion that a simple round heel would be fastest. after almost finishing it though, i didn't really like how it looked, it came out VERY square??? i think the numbers were a little bit off for my sock, which is not to say that you shouldn't try it on one of your own projects.

the square-looking heel would not have mattered to me one bit, had it fit well. after all, it looks fine once you put an actual heel in it. but of course, the sock came nowhere close to having a good fit! in my newest book, Sensational Knitted Socks, the instructions for a toe up sock were; knit the toe, knit the foot of the sock until it reaches your ankle bone (the big round bone on the outside of your foot, near the ankle, if there's any confusion) and when the foot of the sock is long enough to reach that point, you should start knitting the heel. i thought that sounded easier than all the measuring i normally do. it wasn't.

so i frogged the "round" (*SQUARE!!*) heel and a little bit of the foot, and went back to my tried and true method of measuring the foot- i take my total foot length minus two inches for the heel. for me that measurement is 7 1/2 inches, so once i reach that point, i know i'm reading to start knitting the heel of my sock. works like a charm every time for me! i also try my sock-in-progress on alot at this stage of the knitting, just to make sure everything feels right.

once i got back to the right length, it was once again time for the heel. i'm not sure what came over me at this point, but without second guessing myself, i started knitting short rows again!?!?! i just felt like i needed to do it. and although i had a few problems, i was surprised to find myself fixing my mistakes with ease!!! it seemed as though all the experience i'd gained recently from constantly ripping out and reknitting those short rows had finally paid off! and let me tell you, fixing short rows is not easy! it sort of feels like when you first start knitting and you watch someone drop a stitch and go down a few rows to fix a mistake, and it just blows your mind!! but once i knew what everything was supposed to look like, it was easier to tell what i had done wrong. i will admit, at one point i had to frog about 4 rows and redo them, but it was much better than frogging the whole heel! i had found my short row zen- i finished the heel without any major melt downs or cursing! it was nice.

at the beginning of the short row heel, i had an epiphany- when i was researching how to knit intarsia in the round, i came across a technique called "knitting backwards"; most commonly used while knitting flat, but has MANY other creative uses. now, i'm not going to get into instructions here, but i will be giving links so you can look it up!! a most basic explanation of knitting backwards is: without turning your work around, you will be making purl stitches on the back side of your knit fabric while viewing from the front of the knit fabric. here's a visual; instead of knitting stitches from the left needle to the right needle, the stitches you just knit will be on the right needle, and your left needle will become your working needle.

why i DO want to mention it is to tell you about my experience with the technique. i think this may be the one most creative and innovative improvements on the basic, thousands-of-years-old knitting that we do in every project, every day. and especially for me, i'm a little embarassed to admit that 75% of the time, i fall asleep about 10 rows into a knitting session.... most often on a purl row. knitting has always been relaxing for me, but now i find it a little too relaxing! and then there's a more common plague of the knitting community.... PURL STITCHES!!!! i have no idea why so many people say they hate purling, but for me personally, i'm half as fast on my purl rows, which is why i usually fall asleep on them. i don't know how fast other people knit, and i'm certainly no lilly chin or anything, but in my own mind, i think i'm a pretty fast knitter. and i like it that way. and then there's my other reason to dislike purling, though it may be a less common affliction of purlers out there, i'm not sure, i've never told anyone this: my hands feel drunk or something while purling! seriously, they're totally ineffective!! i'm not sure what that's all about, but it's true! it just doesn't feel right. so for anyone who may hate purling, for whatever reason- read on, this part of the post is for you!!

now, just like most of my great-idea flashbacks, it was very late at night, like 1AM. i did a search for knitting backwards tutorials on google, and was delighted to find that knitty did an entire article on the subject! of the hundreds of thousands of knitting websites and blogs on the globe, knitty would most definately be in my "top 5 most-trusted knitting websites" list.

since it was so late at night, i ONLY wrote down what i thought i needed to know to be able to execute the technique. i did notice that there were other tips and i still haven't read the entire article, i was on a mission! i went back to the bedroom *where i unforunately have to do ALL my night time knitting, AWAY from the help i can find on the internet because the baby sleeps in the living room*. so i sat down, with my minimalist notes, and picked up my sock in progress. to my surprise, i was knitting backwards with no trouble! i was shocked, it sounded so hard! i knit a few stitches backwards, and the only thing i struggled with was how to hold my working yarn. it was tricky, too tricky for learning a new technique. so i dropped it. the easiest way for me to learn was to first concentrate on how to move the needles. to teach my fingers and hands to do something that i've been doing for years backwards was hard enough on it's own. can you imagine trying to teach yourself to write from right to left?!?! it would take a long time. so, while my hands were still learning, my working yarn would hang dilligently at the back of my knitting until i needed it, and only after i got the needles in place and was reading to make the stitch would i pick it up, make the stitch, and drop it again. and although i'm making it sound harder than it is right now, i was knitting backwards fluently in 10 minutes! for the rest of the night, i knit the heel, picking up the yarn as i needed it, until i was too tired and had to go to bed.

the next morning, i worked on knitting backwards while holding the working yarn. i tried a few different ways of holding it in my hands, i even tried continental. but, i settled on holding it in my right hand, like i usually do, with one modification: when i need a little extra tension, i use my middle finger to hold the yarn down a little more, making it easier to control the yarn.

now that i learned to knit backwards, i look forward *no pun intended* to purl rows!! it hasn't proved to be necessarily faster than purling *for me* but it's certainly more entertaining!

so, the moral of the story is: try something new!! this technique was pretty darn easy for me, even though i thought it sounded like a lot of work! but if i hadn't tried it, i would never have found that out! i LOVE trying new techniques, SO SPICE UP YOUR KNITTING LIFE! and perhaps the most important thing to remember is: you don't have to do anything a certain way, if it's not working for you, try something else! experiment a little and see if you can find a way to make it easier on yourself!

ok, here's where you can find out more about knitting backwards!

knitty summer 2006 (note that they call the technique knitting back backwards)

rexenne's you tube video for knitting backwards (if you want to see the technique in action, i suggest this video. she uses very big needles, so you can really see how the it's executed. she does knit with the working yarn in her left hanb, but everything else is the same for right handed knitters. it's a little bit long, and if you've never watched one of rexenne's videos, you may be surprised at her quirky style, but i've watched all her spinning videos and she's good at explaining things, so stick with it!)

all of rexenne's videos can be found here

the knit witch's knitting backwards you tube video (no frills video!! this is strictly technique here, but she is a traditional right handed knitter, if you don't like rexenne's left handed style!)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

this little piggy:
sock toes

as some may have guessed, my time is still being devoted to knitting on my creativity 350 project. i'm trying to stay focused, which can be very hard for a right-brainer like me! the only other thing i've allowed myself to do with my free time is about an hour of spinning my june fiber of the month swap roving every couple of days. pretty good, if i do say so myself!

i thought i'd had about all i could stand of the 350 knitting, until a knitting angel sent me an IM on craftster. it was my june FOTM swap partner! she is really sweet, and through conversing for our fiber trade, we found out we have alot in common. she sent an "are you out there?" IM, after not hearing back from me, and i couldn't help but unload all my project stress on her! after all, i don't have anyone in my personal *not internet* life that knits or even an LYS to seek help or consolation from!

*warning; in the next paragraph, i let my creativity 350 project out of the bag. i just couldn't keep it a secret anymore, it's too exhausting NOT to write about it here! there was no stopping it either, the words just exploded from my hands to the key board! so here is the original paragraph, unedited!*

after reading my pitiful message, she sent along some encouraging words. and, although i knew how thoughtful it was of her, i didn't feel particularly enthused to pick up my needles right then and there. but, at my next knitting session, i was able to finish the toe of the sock *whoops, i let my super top secret project out of it's knitting bag!!! honestly, i'm too exasperated trying to keep it under wraps on the blog anymore! so there you go, my super top secret creativity 350 project is(!!)........SOCKS!!! i know, who would have guessed?!?! this is only my 3rd pair in a row!*

that stupid freakin short row toe!!! after barely making my way through it on the yarn over cable socks, here it is again!!! why didn't i just go with a different toe? because i didn't know any others to look up off the top of my head, and i don't have a book saying "here are the toes, here are the heels, put them together however you like!" not to mention, i was just plain being lazy about it. so after struggling on it *see all my yarn over cable sock rants* it just magickly happened! it was so smooth, and natural. the knitted fabric just poured from my hands! my knitting angel has some well-deserved knitting karma coming her way!! and she's not even a knitter.

so, after knitting the toe, the foot of the sock went by faster than i ever imagined! *after all those stupid short row toes, i forgot that i actually AM a good knitter, i just learned that i SUCK at short row toes!* the first thing i thought when i started designing these socks was: "STRIPES!!", and since i was doing the intarsia motif on the leg, i knew i'd at least put the stripes on the foot of the sock, if not use them as the back ground of the leg, too. but right now, i'm only knitting the foot. so, what type of stripes should i do? fat? skinny? painstakingly thought out? or randomly knitted? and then, from the corner of my brain where i store all of those really great ideas or techniques for future inspiration or use: "FIBONACCI stripes!!!" and so, it was decided. i would LOOSELY base my stripe sequence on a method called fibonacci knitting, which i saw demonstrated on knitty gritty.

a word about fibonacci knitting:
i would really love to explain this to you, but for the sake of time i'm directing you HERE. that link will take you to the knitty gritty web page that FULLY explains what the fibonacci numbers are, and how to incorporate them into your knitting. the tutorial is beautifully written and SUPER easy to understand, plus it gives a very interesting mini-history lesson about Leonardo Fibonacci and the way he came up with his fibonacci sequence

so, if you're interested, but telling yourself you can't do it because it involves math and numbers, trust me when i say- i suck at math!!! THIS IS EASY, i promise!!! it's only numbers, no math included! the work is done for you! if i can do it, anyone can *and if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll believe me, because if there's anyone who can mess up the simplest knitting pattern, it's ME!!!*

okay, back to your regular scheduled blogging:
now here's where i start to fudge my numbers *this is why i said my stripes would be LOOSELY based on 350*. so, i already know that i can't use the number zero, because i obviously can't knit ZERO rows of anything!!! so i had to substitute the zero with the number one.

then, i had to make sure my numbers (now 3-5-1) were actually included in the fibonacci sequence. so, using the link above, i checked it out, and was grateful that all of them were there! so, that was easy, right?! yeah, too easy.

i soon realised that with my TINY gauge, not only would the stripes not look good, but changing colors that often would be down right tedious, and my knitting would probably look like CRAP from the frequent joining of new colors. i had also decided early on that i wanted my pair of socks to really stand out. i wanted to people to notice them and wonder why the hell my socks had "350" so proudly emblazoned on them, and subsequently come ask me about it! the stripes needed to be bold and graphic. so, i figured the easiest solution would be to double the numbers: 3 to 6, 5 to 10 and 1 to 2.

it was easy to knit the stripes this way, and i really like how they turned out- just bold enough, but not like striped witch stockings or anything! there is a visible line down the length of the foot, giving away the exact point where i changed colors, but i decided i would put that part of the sock to the inside of the leg, where it would be less visible to someone viewing the sock from the outside.

sneak preview!!! here the foot of the sock is completed, at the left you can see the line of demarcation where i joined the new colors. it's not too pretty, but i will tighten up the joins in the finishing stage of the sock and hopefully it'll look better!

here is a closeup of the joins. this will face the inside of the foot.
i would like to note, however, if you were to knit a pair striped socks using a "knit 10 rows in main color, knit 10 rows in contrasting color" pattern, the joins would likely be less noticeable. my theory on this is they're easier on the eye because they are farther apart than the stripes with only 2 knitted rows, so we perceive them as being less noticeable.

this is an illustration of the aforementioned theory of how the thickness of the stripes affects the look of the color joins.
on to the heel! my first thought after finishing the toe and foot of the sock? there's no way in hell i'm going to do another short row technique here!!! so i logged on to ravelry, and began searching the sock knitting groups for an alternatives. i was massively dissapointed. so instead of wasting my time searching the internet *as some of you may already know: i'm completely useless when it comes to searching* i went to the "tips and techniques" group on ravelry and posted this message, a call for names of ANY heel or toe known to man, so that you could look for them by name, making the search infinitely easier. the message has already gotten a few replies, which isn't alot, but the information given is worth it's weight in gold! i've checked out all the links provided in the first 3 replies, and although some of the websites were abandoned EONS ago, the information is still good, and most of the internal links (ie; click here to go to "socks, page 2") are still good.

so please, if you read this and my previous posts about my infuriating yarn over cable sock experience and feel like i'm reading a page out of your sock knitting book, CHECK OUT THAT LINK!!! and if you're not already a member on Ravelry, you should sign up today, even though they have a waiting list *which is already much smaller than it was when i applied* and it is a challenge in itself to figure out how to work all the totally amazing *FREE* features their website has to offer, IT'S TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!

so that is where my first sock stands as of now- next i'll decide what heel to use and with any luck, that will go faster than the toe, because i can't much more paranoia about not finishing these socks by the deadline of the contest, this has come to be so much more important to me than i ever could have imagined!! i really want to be able to show people what i can do, and hopefully everyone will like them and appreciate how much work and thought was put into them!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

knitting, knitting and more knitting.....

forward: you should know up front that this post is pretty long, but i did put pictures of my finished intarsia swatch somewhere near the bottom! not only does this post contain all the hilarity of my usual rants, but i've also tried to give an educational account of what happened, and a few things i discovered on my intarsia adventure. so for those of you who have always wanted to try intarsia *especially those who have always been told that it is HARD!!!* here is a first hand account of my experience with it. and for those who came to feel better about themselves and their knitting by reading about MY perpetual back luck, continue on!!
as you can see from the title, most of my spare time since my last post has been spent.... knitting. knitting on the creativity 350 super top secret project and the millionth redo of the yarn over cable socks. at least this time i have GOOD news about these projects, no major snafus again *but i'm not holding my breath*!

the best news of all?!?! i finished my sample of the intarsia section of the 350 project!!! i'm thrilled that it went so damn good! i get so intimidated by techniques that have always been labeled as "hard" or "challenging". that's why i can get pretty heated on the message boards on craftster or ravelry when someone replies to questions by saying "oh, (insert specific technique) is so hard!!!" i think that's why certain techniques, such as fair isle or intarsia, and even ENTIRE CRAFTS become virtually unheard of *can anyone say: spinning!!!* or considered antiquated. anyways, i'm getting off topic *so out of character for me, right?!*

back to the point, i finished the sample, which i decided to knit before starting my project mainly because i've never done intarsia, but also to see how the motif *which i charted by hand* looked and whether or not it needed to be changed (which i'm glad i did, because the chart did not translate well in some areas of the knitting). it took me three of four rows to really get the hang of the intarsia, to a point where i wasn't having to stop and refer to my book. but, in my opinion, 3 or 4 rows is a pretty small learning curve! intarsia's not as difficult as fair isle considering that you don't have to hold 2 *or more!!* yarns at the same time. instead, you simply drop the color you're not going to knit with anymore "the old color" pick up your "new" color and bring it UNDER the old color and then just start knitting, not worrying about the "old" yarn!! and it will be infinintely easier to understand what i mean by bringing the new yarn UNDER the old yarn, when you're actually trying it out for yourself *instead of just reading it* and there's a VERY helpful video on that shows in real time, from the knitter's view point (like what you see when you're looking down at your own knitting) with no cut-aways, so you see everything the knitter in the video does AND it shows the techniques in both continental and english in the one video. this video was my *AHA!!!* moment, as i was getting my instructions *which were very minimalistic* from a book, but i'm such a visual learner that when i saw the video, i instantly knew what i was doing wrong and how to correct it. so if intarsia is something you want to learn, then go watch that video!!!! *i know i went over the video in my last post, too, but seriously, that video was the single best help i could find on the web, even of the written tutorials, and so i think it would be pretty important for other people who may want to learn intarsia, and thus, worth mentioning......again!

to start off, here is an explanation of the basic principle of intarsia: you need a seperate strand of yarn for every different block of color in your knitting. the best way i've heard this explained is that to knit something with a solid pink circle on a brown background, you would need one strand of yarn for the right side of the background, one for the pink circle and one for the left side of the background (since the background splits and goes around the circle in two different areas of color). so, i deduced i'd need seven different strands of yarn for my sample:

1) the right margin of the background
2) the number zero
3) the space in between the zero and the 5
4) the number 5
5) the space in between the 5 and the 3
6) the number 3
7) the left margin of the background

and i was right, at least until i started getting further into the charted design and you go to grab your new color, and there's nothing there. so what do you do at this point?!?! well, i never found anything that explained what to do then. this was the one place i found in my entire swatch that i was absolutely stuck and had no idea how to remedy it.

so, here's how i figured out my solution. i was knitting the numbers "3-5-0" in my sample. BUT, there is one area enclosed by a solid line: the inside of the zero. so, once you get the bottom line of the zero knitted, you have to start a new strand of yarn for the background color.

*which, by the way, i only noticed right now as i typed out the numbers, so i obvioulsy didn't know to account for it in my swatch!! this is just one of many examples that illustrate how i get myself into so many ridiculous, totally avoidable situations!!!*
anyways, so i would reach down for my new color, and the yarn would be in another place and NO WHERE *not even on that blessed video* did it say: "if this happens to you, the proper thing to do is to add another yarn"!!! so at first i thought stranding *which is what you do in fair isle* may be the answer, until the yarns started getting further and further apart, and i was creating more of a problem than a solution.

and so, i was left to rack my brain for the solution to my problem, when it hit me like a ton of bricks "DUH, add a new piece of yarn!!" in my opinion, the MOST important thing to remember with intarsia *and, unfortunately, the the most unmentioned* is this: you can add a new yarn ANYWHERE in your row!!! on the left, on the right and even SMACK in the middle of a row!!! i know, it seems like knitting heresy, but most of the places you will introduce a new color of yarn in intarsia is NOT at beginning of a row!!!

and now, here's my two cents concerning the war of words on knitting intarsia with bobbins versus no bobbins. i started out my swatch with my yarn on bobbins. i had 6 or 7 that i had bought AGES ago but never got the courage to use!! turns out, the one thing i DID underestimate about intarsia was how many strands of yarn i'd have hanging off the back of my knitting!!! and since i only had those 6 or 7 yarn bobbins, and i don't know how to make those nifty yarn butterflies that unwind from the center, i had only one other option which i had never heard of until i started researching intarsia on the web. this method came from people who absolutely HATED using yarn bobbins and/or butterflies and is perhaps the easiest way to handle your yarn when you know you're going to have a gazillion yarn butts hanging out back there.

now pay attention, this is tricky!!! you take the color of yarn required, measure off about a yard and a half *this is a matter of personal preference, but this was best for ME as i had only small blocks of color and my swatch was TINY, you can certainly do longer pieces on a bigger project, though!* so you measure off what you think you'll need, cut the yarn off the ball and add it to your piece and......... oh wait, THAT'S IT?!?! yes, really, that's it!!! it's so easy and it makes the yarn super accessible and you don't have to worry about tangles at all because the butterflies and bobbins are what REALLY facilitate those tangles. so when you need a particular strand, you just pull it loose, and i NEVER had a problem, not once! and briefly, i will end this topic by saying that i didn't have any problem using the bobbins, either, when i was at the beginning of my work. but once i started compiling so many yarn ends, that's when those bobbins get all tangled up in there, and if there are ANY rough parts on the bobbin that snag your yarn, you might as well forget it. that was my major problem with them, and let me tell you, snag my yarn they did! so for a small project, you may find you get along quite well with the bobbins. as for me, those brand new yarn bobbins are headed to my embroidery box, to be wound with floss.
and i'm going to try not to ramble on about this, but people make such a big deal about their work getting all tangled up with intarsia *like, tangled to a point where they have to totally start over on their project*. but i only got one such tangle in the entire process of my swatch. and that was when one of the monsters *still not sure which one, but the investigation is ongoing!!* got a hold of my finished (!!!) swatch, and i have NO idea what they did to it, but i found it, laying on the floor looking like a cat had gotten ahold of it. and luckily, although it took some time to untangle it, at the end of the debacle, everything was okay! so i'm not sure what other people are doing to their intarsia projects to get them to that point.

okay, if you're still awake and not comatose, here are some pics!!! and just know that i was in a hurry and i didn't take alot of time to pin it absolutely flat and straight, in fact, i only took these pictures was so i could put them on the blog- just for you!!!

here is the finished swatch in its entirety

and this is to show just how tiny the gauge is for this project!!! that's your standard size tomato pin cushion there

and here, in all its glory, is the back of the piece. note at the bottom are the bobbins i originally started out with but gave up quickly!!

oh, and a quick note about the yarn over cable socks- i started over with the different crochet cast on i described in the last post, which worked with great success!!!! i counted the stitches relentlessly, and am proud to say that i still have the correct number!!! i have finished the toe and started on the foot of the sock, where the stitch pattern begins and have only messed up very slightly once, but there is a good reason!! i was watching nanny 911 and was so repulsed by a mother who let her two daughters eat and drink their pot belly pig and cat's food and water, that i got distracted on one row. can you blame me for not paying attention to my knitting?!?!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

aggrivated knitting (or assault with a knitted weapon?)

for the last week, i haven't felt like spinning.... at all. so i've been working on my knitting projects. i restarted the yarn over cable socks with a provisional cast on. i can't remember the exact name of the cast on, but it's the one where you crochet OVER your knitting needle. so i had almost finished the toe when i figured i'd better do a stitch count and discovered that i was..... ONE STITCH SHORT!?!?!?! where?!?! how?!?! when?!?!?

so i go back to the beginning and that provisional cast on. i'm not sure exactly what happened because i didn't actually witness it, but somehow the stitch at the very end of the cast on is unraveling *not to mention, it was extremely fiddly and the way you have to hold your hands, felt weird and awkward to me*. but then, out of nowhere, i remembered a different technique for a provisional cast on. this cast on is much easier *in my opinion* because instead of crocheting around a knitting needle, all you do is make a crochet foundation chain to the same number of stitches your pattern calls for and then you pick up stitches into the chain, which, if you use a yarn and/or crochet hook that is a couple sizes bigger than your project yarn, is really easy to do. and i actually like picking up stitches, although i'm not quite sure why!!! that cast on went much easier and smoother, and i'm now about half way through the toe.

so, what have i been doing all this time?!?! no spinning whatsoever, only a COUPLE of rows done on the yarn over cable socks and.... that's it!?!?! well, not exactly. i've been keeping a project a secret. so what project would this be, you may wonder? well, i have been designing and sampling the hell out of my creativity 350 project!!! that's right, yours truly will be entering *well, hopefully anyways! as long as i can manage to get it done on time!* see, when i first heard about the 350 project, i was really excited about it, but i thought i would NEVER have enough time to design, much less knit an entire project * i decided early on i would do knitting. a spinning project would've been really cool, although a little more abstract, and i wasn't sure if people would get it if it wasn't so literal*

but then, i thought i would not be a very good role model if i endorsed the project so wholeheartedly, but didn't at least TRY to participate. i thought a lot about what i should do, and although i want to keep it a secret *hehe, sneaky sneaky!* i will give you a little teaser!!! so, we already know it's going to be knit, and i wanted to include something with the actual number 350. after going through all the fonts on my word program *many times over* i could not find anything that i like, or that i could get big enough, not to mention we had two printers that weren't working AT ALL and a third that is out of black ink. after being stuck on that for a couple of days, i decided to visit the 350's website for some inspiration. as soon as i got there, i saw their logo, and i don't know why i never though about this, but their logo was actually perfect!! big, bold numbers, and the three has this cute little arrow coming out of it. and since they have some pages of posters and fliers and stuff you can print out, i figured they wouldn't mind me using their logo. but then there's the problem of the printer. i couldn't see the screen through piece of regular printer paper, even in word with the numbers in a bright red. but when i tried on the 350 logo with tracing paper i could see it just enough to be able to tape the tracing paper to my monitor and trace it as best as i could. it worked okay, but with minor touch-ups, i was really happy with it.

then came charting the design. for any beginning knitters out there in blog world, you can incorporate almost any design into your knitting, as long as you can chart it out on knitter's graph paper *or find a chart online that suits you needs and taste* the only problem is, with knitting you can't use the regular graph paper you can get in the craft store, at least not if you want your knitted design to be distorted. you see, knit stitches are more like rectangles than squares, but standard graph paper is made up of squares. the solution? there is actually such a thing as knitting graph paper! this makes my task exponentially easier, especially since i knew i could find it online, for free. i found this VERY good website where you can actually get graph paper made to your exact knitting gauge. and best of all, there are very few steps that are explained very clearly. so, how do you do it? you knit your swatch with the yarn you're using in your project, measure your gauge, input your numbers into the program, and it calculates everything FOR your, in a matter of seconds, for you to print! it really is that easy! oh, and i did i mention- it's FREE!!! so use it for EVERY project where you require to-scale graph paper!!

i had decided at the beginning of the project that i would incorporate the motif into my knitting by knitting it in a different color. since i have no idea how to that, i needed to read up on intarsia and fair isle and weigh my options. luckily, i knew just where to go for the info. my stitch 'n bitch: the knitter's handbook has GREAT information on ALL the popular *or not-so-popular, but well known* techniques.

i started off knowing i would probably have to use intarsia, because i knew it was for more blocky images, and fair isle is used for those super intricate patterns where every 2 or 3 stitches is a different color. i read through the how-to, but since i'm a more hands-on learner *if i can see it done or do it myself, i'll get it, but reading about it just doesn't cut it for me* i just pulled my yarn and needles and started knitting. it went pretty well, until i got to the second row. i just couldn't figure out the wrapping technique, and so i started to think that maybe fair isle was the way to go, because it sounded a little easier and you can do longer floats. that didn't work either. i was already frustrated. i went to bed.

the next morning, with a fresh *and open* mind, i went searching on the internet for some tutorials. with the help of a few blogs (here's my favorite, the whole blog is devoted to knitting in color) and a video on (which was what helped me the most, seeing it done just does NOT compare to reading about how to do it). i decided to give the intarsia another try.

i am happy to say, it is going swimmingly!!! i'm going to sample the entire motif so i can see if i like the way i charted it out, or if there's anything i need to change. but i'm sorry to say that those are the only clues i'm willing to give you about my creativity 350 project.... for now!!!

one thing i've been doing that i haven't mentioned, oh, for a week and a half or so is UN-plying a lovely bamboo yarn i spun up quite some time ago. the reason i didn't mention this little adventure yet was because *well, besides being totally embarrassed that i was actually going to do it* i was really leery about how this little adventure would turn out *think: lovely, shiny bird's nest of unusable hand spun yarn!!* let me start off by saying that there was absolutely NOTHING wrong with this yarn, except the yardage. i spun it medium-thin but decided to navajo ply it, and when i did, i ended up with only 88 yards of this super-awesome bamboo in the most beautiful color way. i wanted more. so it sat, never being put on etsy, stalling for time to think about how i could fix it. after a couple of months, i decided i wouldn't be happy selling it or using it myself even, with so little yardage. so, the only logical thing to do in my mind, was to UN-ply it. now, never having done this before, not even with a regular two ply, i was cautious but hopeful. i was even thinking that i may get lucky and it would just pull out like a crochet chain, you know, tug on the end and it undoes itself. this thought was quickly put to rest. the process goes something like this: get the end, unwind it until you come to the first loop of the ply, then take the end back through the loop. and repeat every 6 inches. so i decided the easiest way to keep it all tidy would be to wind all the UN-plied yarn onto my nostepinne *well, i started off with a center pull ball wound on my fingers, but after about two yards, the yarn broke*i'm almost done with it now, after all this time. i work on it when i'm sitting on the couch watching tv in the living room with the monsters, with the skein laying on top of the couch, which of course could not resist becoming tangled, so every once in a while i guide my nostepinne through the mess. i really cannot wait until i'm done with this!!