Thursday, March 31, 2011

Knit Happens*

When the going gets tough, the tough get knitting . . .or . . . . I'm not completely sure that the truly tough know how to knit. Nevertheless, I do have a poster hanging over our bed reminding me that life is never too chaotic to get some knitting done.

My mom taught me to knit when I was five. I plunked down on the floor and used some of  her leftover peach color yarn, which I thought was gorgeous and she probably felt smacked of the 1970s, and learned to knit to a nursery rhyme:  
In through the window,
'Round the back.
Out through the window,  
Off pops Jack.

I can still feel the smooth coldness of the silk cord drawstrings of the navy blue corduroy bag she gave me to store my wooden knitting needles and knitting projects in. I didn't knit much as a child, although I do remember making leg warmers for my American Girl doll. It wasn't until my early teenage years that I actually became proficient at knitting. That's when I tackled Barbara Walker's Learn To Knit Afghan and learned just about every basic knitting stitch and technique you need to know. The afghan, with all of its mismatched squares, is draped over the cabin's couch today.

While I've been knitting longer than I've been reading, I didn't put much effort into really improving my skills until 2008, when I discovered Ravelry. By that time in my knitting career, I'd had a fair amount of knitting disasters and I was tried of attempting to transform gifted yarn into beautiful garments. So I gave myself permission to buy myself some yarn and started to tackle progressively more difficult projects: felting, socks, colorwork, et al.  I had a major epiphany last year when I discovered the concept of "blocking" your work (where you wet a garment and pin it out to desired dimensions after you've finished knitting) which helps give knitted pieces their proper shape and also has a smoothing, evening effect on your stitched. It makes everything look so much better!

My latest project was a hooded lace sweater I started just after Christmas. The sweater, entitled Apres Surf (handy for all the surfing that goes on in northern Minnesota, eh?), uses sock yarn on size 3 and 2 needles (translation: itty, bitty needles and thread-like yarn) and although the pattern wasn't especially complicated, it did require patience and concentration. 

My goal with this project was to make a sweater that didn't look homemade. I realize this is rather counter intuitive to the whole reasoning behind knitting, but we're all familiar with the ill-hanging, bulky homemade sweater.  I wanted a sweater where people's first comment was "What a pretty sweater" rather than "Did you make that?"   I'm rather pleased with the results.

I had to slip in a fun little project while the sweater was blocking. This little sweater is for former co-workers' baby-to-be. 
After the success of the Apres Surf sweater, I'm really hot to trot to start in on this lovely little shell by the same designer, Connie Chang Chinchio. 
Photo credit: changcon
Unfortunately I probably devoted a little too much to my own sweater. Now I need to get a "Tree of Life" afghan finished to be a gift for an early June wedding.
Good thing they have their love to keep them warm because it's going to be a while before this afghan achieves the same effect!

 I better get those needles flying.

Do you knit or crochet? Working on any projects this winter?



*Title shamelessly stolen from fabulous fellow "K"rafter Ali.

20 comments:

  1. Even if it's a stolen title, its a good one! I like to knit but I only know how to make scarves and hats, I'm afraid to do the hard stuff :)

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  2. So funny, I posted about knitting today too! I've never done a big project like a sweater yet. Yours is beautiful! I can't imagine doing that whole thing on those little needles. Very nice projects! (I like Ravelry too.)

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  3. That sweater is gorgeous! I absolutely love it, the color, the style, and it looks fabulous on you too. It does sound like you've got a lot of projects on your knit list so you should probably start knitting....like...right now. : ) I'm currently pretending I know how to crochet and attempting a baby blanket. I may have made a bad choice here, we shall see!

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  4. I wish I knew how to do this!! These are amazing!

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  5. That sweater turned out gorgeous! I remember it from crafting weekend. That's a fabulous color on you, and the fit is perfect. Well done!

    I think it's hilarious that we're both working on Tree of Life blankets at the same time.

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  6. Wow!!! you are seriously talented!!

    I cannot knit, or sew, or crochet (I used to have some basic crocheting skills--- those were unfortunately lost).

    I REALLY wish I knew how to do these things (esp sew!), because I really enjoy clothes etc. and think it would be so much fun to make my own.

    Alas....

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  7. I like to knit and crochet but I'm really bad at both. I was thinking the other day I'd like to sit down and work at it again, try to get better. I think I might just be destined to suck at it!

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  8. Great sweater! As I approach many things in life, I grab onto crafts with gusto, do alot, then stop to not pick it up again for years. I had a knitting frenzy the second time I stayed home with my kids. I knit scarves, chemo caps and baby afghans for a local hospital, some really bad children's sweaters. But, that frenzy has passed ... so I, on occassion, pick up the needles or the crochet hook.

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  9. That sweater is amazing! I love the zen of knitting

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  10. What a great sweater! I have never attempted knitting a sweater yet because I have to get my patients psyched up for that! But you have given me some great inspiration. Nice work!

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  11. Oh, how I wish I had an ounce of your talent. The sweater is gorgeous! And I think you reached your goal. It doesn't look homemade (although it does look handmade, and I think there's a difference in the meaning behind those two descriptive words). It's beautiful is the point. And I love the baby's sweater. I want to reach through the screen and grab it for my nephew. So cute!

    I bow to you, oh talented knitting queen :)

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  12. Wow! You are amazingly talented; I would have never thought you made that--I would have thought you spent a lot of money on it in a store! Good for you :) (popping in from FTLOB)

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  13. Fantastic! It looks like something straight from Anthropologie. I do not knit. I wish I could, but I get too distracted by shiny things and can't sit still. Maybe I should give it another try.

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  14. WHOA. That is a gorgeous sweater! What an amazing skill to have. Knitting is one of many hobbies and talents that I'd love to learn, if only I had the patience. I need to develop that skill first, I guess. Looks like it pays off-- that really does look like something from a boutique.

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  15. I would say you did a pretty good job and would never know it wasn't bought in a store!

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  17. I have been thinking about taking up something like knitting. I've hurt my knee and can't do any exrcise so I was thiking of starting something different and this cam int omy mind!! I think your jumper is fab! Well done!!

    Just stopping by from weekend blog hop.
    *Deleted previous comment as wrote wrong thing haha! Sorry! *

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  18. Your sweater looks amazing! I would have thought you bought it in a store!

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  19. I love that green sweater. It looks so comfy. You are so talented. I found you FTLOB.
    www.atfirstblushbeauty.com

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  20. Interesting. That sweater actually doesn't look homemade. I've been knitting for probably 25 years but have never blocked anything. My mom didn't so i guess I never saw the need for it. Now I'm wondering if maybe it would be a good idea on certain things! You're right that's it's a more flattering question to remark about the nice sweater rather than asking if it's homemade! Lol.

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