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!!

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