Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How long can a blog be dead?

I post most of my daily observations to Facebook. I think some daily writing might do me some good. Of course, except for my one "follower", I doubt anyone will look here ever again.

Perhaps I should go for a walk on this sunny, warm November day, and think about something to write about.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mittens. We have mittens!

Fast forward to the summer when the girls were young. Maybe 2 and 5? I took a mitten knitting class. It was taught again by Betty Crocker (Rosemary) and it was AWESOME. I love everything about knitting mittens except... that when you finish you have to knit the 2nd. :-)

Here's a montage of mittens I've knit that I can find... Most of them have partners, except the really fancy one. The grey one is from the first pair I knit. You can see the thumb needs mending. If I can find the yarn, I can always re-knit the thumb.

Then I knit the striped ones. It's actually two pair, I made opposite stripes for the girls. I think Margaret had the green cuffs, and Amelia the pink.

The red ones were from some yarn I found at the outlet store. I've had to mend them a few times.

The green/orange ones are with large gauge needles and yarn. I think it took one hour to knit one.

Compare to the fancy one. I still need to start the 2nd one of that. It is a Latvian "Cathedral Window" design. It took many hours, but I will do the partner. The cast on and cuff are very cool.. I guess you can't see very well since I haven't blocked it yet.

I'm a bit worried about wearing them out of the house, though. I tend to lose mittens...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Knitting in COLOR!!!

So the class that transformed my knitting was a class on color knitting. The teacher was named Rosemary and in addition to teaching knitting, she worked at General Mills as a Home Economist on the help lines. I like to think I was taught by Betty Crocker!

Above are pictures of swatches we made during the class. We did Fair Isle style knitting and Intarsia (solid color blocks). What transformed my knitting? Well, in doing the "Fair Isle" style, the teacher recommended that we knit "continental" style, where you reach through the stitch with your needle, grab the yarn, and pull it back through. When using two colors at once, you can hold both colors in that hand and "pick" the one you want. I didn't use color knitting in any projects until years later.

But I did totally switch to the continental style of knitting. Knitting is so much faster.

Rosemary also gave great color knitting points (like when changing color in rib stitch, knit the first round so the color change is more smooth). After taking that class with Rosemary, I though I could knit anything! Then I had kids. I think that was the timing. I didn't make time to knit for several years... And I didn't knit a thing until I took my Mitten Class (also from Rosemary). That will be the next story.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sweater #2... and the beginning of new things...

After finishing sweater #1, I decided it was time to do another sweater. Here it is... in its state as of last week.

Yep. Never finished it. I suspect I started it in '95 or '96. I finished the front and back way back then. Then it got tucked away in a box. I found it last year when I started making socks. So I started the sleeves last year. Got as far as you see and realized that I did not have enough yarn to finish the sleeves. So it sat for a year as I pondered what to do. I couldn't bear to throw it out, because I love the color and it is a nice cotton yarn and I have done a pretty nice job on it.

Last week I tore the sleeves totally out and redesigned them to be a short sleeve variety. I am almost half done with them. With any luck, I'll have a finished sweater in about 3 weeks time. Amazing how quickly you can finish things when you make them high priority.

One of my odd quirks (is that redundant? Are all quirks odd?) is that I don't like to buy yarn for projects until I am ready to start them. Which is odd because I don't do that in other areas of my crafty life. Anyway, I want to make some felted items, but am not going to buy any new projects until I finish this sweater. I am going to finish this sweater. I am. Because I really want to start felting.

So the beginning of new things was when I bought the pattern for this sweater. I went to my local shop (Needlework Unlimited) and bought the pattern and all the yarn for it. (I swear I bought enough yarn. I think I lost one skein... it's not like me to not buy an extra amount of yarn for a project. )

And while I was there I signed up for a "Color Knitting" class. That class started the transformation of my knitting skills.... which is a story for another day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My knitting history... the newer early years.

In the early 90s I got the bug to knit again. A friend at church, Myra, really taught me to knit. I decided I wanted to do a sweater. Myra picked the "Circumnavigate a Cardigan" by Meredith Glover as the pattern because she said it was an awesome teaching pattern. It was.

This cool pattern starts at the the bottom of the body. You knit on and make it real wide, then you fold over for pockets and knit down for the bottom band. Then starting at the top of the pockets, you knit up to the neckline, then pick up stitches and knit the raglan sleeves out. Then you pick up the band around the front and knit in the button holes. Only 3 or 4 ends to work in. Sew on buttons and you are done. No joining of pieces required. It used a chunky yarn so it went pretty quickly.

It was also my first time knitting on circular needles (which you have to do even if not knitting in the round, since the work weighs so much and you would have trouble supporting the weight on straight needles.... now I know why grandma always knit afghans in strips).
Here is the finished sweater. It's a bit out of style to wear out of the house, but it is the warmest sweater I own (wool, of course) and I wear it to keep warm in the winter!

The most important thing I learned from Myra was how to tear back and fix mistakes. By recognizing the patterns of bumps and smooth sides, you could tell what you had done. Counting stitches, recognizing twisted or wrong stitches, all that stuff. By the time I finished that sweater, I felt ready for anything!

Story continued tomorrow...

My knitting history.. the earliest years

OK. Yawn. Boring. But this is the history of where I began with knitting.

My Gram Shaler taught me to knit. (this would be the Grandma in pictures last month) I think she taught all the grandkids to knit...even the boys (but I would need a grandson to confirm that). We had to do the "slippers" I haven't found a pattern like the slippers we made, but they were not too dissimilar from this one:

I think mine were blue, for some reason.

Grandma also made every grandchild an afghan. Marcel pattern (like this Afghan that I believe Gram made for Dad and Jan).

You got to pick your own colors. For some reason, I picked purple (curse the 70s), so I have a lovely purple afghan and it is in a different pattern than she usually did. It's well done, but doesn't really match the decor in any of my rooms. Here it is:

One more afgahn from Gram. In the late 80s/early 90s, I wanted an afghan I could use in my home that matched. She was willing to do it if I bought the supplies. This is the pattern she chose... she didn't want to do a marcel pattern again. I guess Crocheting was easier for her. So this is a lovely "Rose Ripple" afghan. I have the pattern for this one. Great late 80s colors, eh?

I treasure each one of these afghans that my Gram made. Each is special to me, even if the colors are not ones I would chose today.

One last bit of info from my early knitting. At some point I got this pattern book. 35 cents and published in 1968. Thought I'd share since it is a lovely piece of nostalgia. I have notes in the book, but I never made anything from it.

Gram taught me the "American" style of knitting... hold the loose yarn in your right hand and loop it over the needle with a swish of your hand. This is how I'm trying to teach my girls now, too. I now knit "continental" style where the loose yarn is in your left hand and you kind of grab it with the needle and pull it through. But that is a story for another day. I never saw gram knit anything other than afghans, slippers and washcloths. I wish I had gotten a pair of her needles (did she have anything other than a size 8? Either pink or blue metal.) when she died, but that didn't happen. I also have the pattern for knit washcloths written out from her on a scrap of an envelope. That's a pretty cool thing to still have.

Once in high school I got this bright idea I was going to knit a sweater coat. I got a pattern and all the yarn (It was expensive, I recall). It was bright colors with wide stripes. Not sure what happened to that, but I never finished it and no longer have the pattern. And then the itch to knit lay dormant for many years...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In spring a young girl's fancy turns to...


Yep. It's happened the past two springs. The weather gets warmer, and I get the itch to knit. I'm not sure I understand it. Is it a Norwegian instinct to start new woolens for the next winter before it arrives? I don't know. Seems odd. But it is happening again.

I have joined www.ravelry.com so I can have an on-line knitting community. I am nancyscraps there because... well... nancyknits was taken. Plus I am nancyscraps on several of my other on-line presences.

I have pulled out all my projects to take stock and re-prioritize. I am actually proud of myself that I don't hoard yarn (I do have that problem with scrapping supplies, but not with yarn). I hoard knitting patterns, however, and have several patterns and books sitting in queue waiting for other projects to finish up so I can buy yarn for them.

I have 4 projects on needles right now. A hat, two different socks, and a sweater. I have two project "mid needle".. that is... I have finished the first mitten of each project and need to start the second mitten. So six projects. I should wish for that few unfinished scrap projects.

For some reason, I decided to blog over the next few days about knitting... Guess the scrapper in me wants to write it all down. It's on my mind.

OK. Yeah. And I need topics for my blog. I was looking at my blog entries from two years ago and I was very impressed with my writing and topic selection back then. Lately I obviously haven't thought of any blog-worthy topics. My apologies to those who may have been keeping up with me by blog...that obviously hasn't been working. Try facebook, ok?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Girl Scout Camp!

I went to Girl Scout camp with both girls. Amelia would have been by herself, so I went with her. Then, since Charlie was out of town, I ended up bringing Margaret along. We had a marvelous time. It wasn't too cold, but still a lot of snow, so the paths were really muddy and got icy in the evenings/mornings. I fell once, but no damage done. Some of the girls got super muddy.

We did finger knitting and "bowl" knitting. I made this "scarf", Amelia made this "dress" for Pat (I only helped a bit).

Margaret tried everything there was to offer, but resisted having her picture taken. I did get her to pose for this one at the end.