blog week

Day Six: Knitting Skillz

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Wow, blogging every day is hard! I usually keep a distance from the computer screen on the weekends, so I nearly forgot about Blog Week today! Now I’m in bed, ready to call it a day, so luckily this topic is an easy one for me.

I definitely wouldn’t say I have all the knitting skillz in the world or anything – hardly. My sweater making chops are pretty weak, with little experience behind them, and I can’t deal with toe-up socks at all. Short row heels, what’s that all about?! But I’m not afraid of any of them, I just haven’t done them yet.

I don’t really understand knitting fear, to be honest – it’s not like sewing where a cut in fabric is for keeps. It’s yarn, just pull it out and start again! What’s the worst that could happen? I actually dislike projects that don’t teach me something new, even something little, and I can tell this is true because the projects that linger are always the ones that are a little too simple. Better to try something new and have to try again than get bored with the old, right?

Except for steeking. That’s CUTTING your knitting, people! It’s madness. You can’t go back from that if you screw it up, you know. Brr, gives me the creeps. But … there’s some pretty amazing knitting that requires steeks to be conquered, so here we go: I swear I will try one, even if it’s just a little test piece, in 2012. That seems like a long time to do such a little thing, but you know how it is when you get distracted by other things. Just trying to be realistic. So in 2012, I will cut my knitting. With scissors. I swear.

Madness, I tell you!

Day Five: A Letter From My UFOs

Dear Julie,

We were thinking of you, and decided to send you a little note to say hey. You know, just in case you forgot to stop by and knit with us. I mean, we know you’d never do that, you’d never, ever leave us here unfinished to knit with something else … right? No, of course not! But just in case, we thought we’d send a little hello, catch up, remind you about what we’ve been up to – see if maybe you wanted to come pick us back up?

Umaro UFO

Umaro here is positive you didn’t forget her – she knows she is your very favorite knit-in-progress. In fact, she’s a little hurt by being called a UFO – she knows she’s just a WIP. If only you could set aside a little time for you to be together, that’d be great. She’d love to become a real lap blanket one day and curl up with you while you watch weird old TV shows from the 90s. Yeah, she loves them, too – Northern Exposure’s her favorite, but she can get down with some Twin Peaks if you want. If you promise to be there when it gets weird.

Ranger Cardigan UFO

Ranger is also pretty sure he’s a WIP, but it’s been quite a while, and it’s getting a little iffy. Plus, he’s totally offended that you resent his repetitive stitch pattern and the thought that it will take a lot of it to make a man-sized cardigan for your brother. It’s not like it’s his fault. Geez. Just remember that his sleeve increases are unnaturally clever and the yarn is a bouncy joy, he knows you’ll come back to him eventually.

Slant Sock, UFO

Slant is another story though, because he totally knows that you’re just a big baby about knitting into the back loop on every stitch. So what if he’s got about a millionty thousand back loops to knit into? What, you think you’re too good for knitting into the back loop?!?

Noro Sekku UFO

Speaking of being a big fat baby, we know you didn’t even try to stick with the Noro Sekku One Skein Stole – putting it aside for the winter because it’s cotton yarn and clearly a summer knit was just an excuse and we know it.

Cardigan Swatch, abandoned
Cardigan Swatch, set aside

And these swatches are never actually going to grow up to become cardigans unless you, you know, do something with them. Getting smooshed at the bottom of the work basket doesn’t count.

Sock Darning Pile

Don’t even get us started on the darning pile. How would you feel to be set aside for socks without holes? As if they’re better than us somehow. Snort.

High Seas UFO

But this pretty lady, High Seas, she’s all ready to forgive you – any time you’re ready. She knows she can be a little high-maintenance. She’s sorry, but she’s totally worth it, she promises. Just come back and you’ll see.

We still love you, really, we just miss you is all.

Love,
Your UFOs

Day Four: Knitter for all Seasons

I almost put this post off, because I’ve felt like I just needed a day off – not from blogging, just from all stuff – and I’m feeling a bit under the weather today, but it just isn’t in the spirit of Blog Week to not do it all week. It kind of nagged at me, and I kept thinking on the topic, until I realized that my answer to this one’s pretty simple.

The honest, simple, answer is that I’m not really a knitter for any particular season, or against any season. I pretty much just knit, all the time, whatever grabs me at the time. I know that we’re “supposed” to knit sweaters in the summer, and lightweight cardigans in winter, so that new garments are ready to wear when the weather changes. But how is that fun?! I realize that the reasoning is pretty nearly flawless, but I’ve never been able to muster up the will to be that practical. I mostly just knit whatever feels like a fun thing to knit right then, even if it means that I end up with a big bulky cowl in my lap in the middle of summer. Usually something about a pattern will grab me, the stitch pattern or a technique that looks fun, rather than any practical purpose.

That said, I do tend to gravitate towards lighter things during the summer, and I definitely do knit less during warmer months and sew more. Not that I sew summer clothing or anything, I just associate sewing with a warm weather activity for some reason. Could just be that the room I sew in is really chilly during the winter. Anyway, I am probably more likely to knit socks and lighter weight shawls during spring and summer; I expect this is fairly typical. For example, the top of my Ravelry queue looks like this right now:

Magrathea shawl, pattern and photo by Martina Behm
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Cloud Illusions shawl, pattern by Boo Knits, photo by hebe mustard on Flickr
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One sproingy and bright, for chilly summer evenings, the other dramatic in style but light enough to wear on even warm days!

Day Three: Yarn Heroes

Today we’re supposed to talk about our knitting or crochet heroes, and I really gave this one a lot of thought. A lot. Some discussion with my mom. A lot of browsing and sifting through my favorites on Ravelry. About a hundred browser tabs open. But you know, I think I realized that I don’t actually have a knitting hero at all. There’s a few knitters I really admire, knitters with the kind of skill that leaves me speechless: most notably, the amazing Jared Flood (of Brooklyn Tweed amazingness, but I prefer the Ravelry link so you can see just how many of those amazing designs are actually Jared’s, not just published under his brand) and Monika from Smoking Hot Needles who never fails to produce knits that are perfectly paired with the most amazing yarns, flawlessly blocked, beautifully photographed, and always knit in warp speed. Those two are the knitters I’d most like to be like when I grow up.

But that’s admiration, a little touch of worship even, but not necessarily inspiration. While they both – and others, I’m sure – do, in a sense, inspire me to greatness, I mostly look at their knits and want to knit the exact same thing, exactly as they did. Inspiration is more about letting your imagination run wild.

In embroidery, I’ve talked about being inspired by the stitches themselves, not necessarily what they are illustrating – I just look at them and can see a world of possibility. And I think that’s true for me and knitting as well, except that instead of stitches inspiring me, it’s all about the yarn. I can’t imagine anything that would capture my imagination more than a room full of beautifully handmade (dyed or spun) yarn, just allowing myself to daydream about what it might all become! If I’m not sure what to do, I will always find myself browsing for yarn on the internet, window-shopping. I’m sure people who catch me doing it must think I’m such a stash junkie, but I swear I’m not really shopping. Just browsing is more than enough to get me thinking about all the ways various yarn might be played with.

So maybe I don’t have knitting heroes exactly, but I definitely do have Yarn Heroes. Dyers, spinners and blenders who I go to most often to admire, who’s yarn or wool I could happily play with for the rest of my knitting life.

FCK semi solids for Old Forge # 3-2
(photo by Monika, on Flickr)

I’ve already mentioned Monika from Smoking Hot Needles, who is not just an amazing knitter, but a truly remarkable spinner as well. Every time I see one of her yarns, my fingers itch for my wheel. I don’t get to spin as much as I wish I could, but if anything can get me sitting at my wheel, just looking at those handspun yarns will do it every time.

(photo by Hilltop Cloud on etsy)

I’ve also mentioned Katie from Hilltop Cloud, who’s shop I could easily get lost in. She’s the first dyer / batt-maker I’ve found in the UK who’s sense of color really matches what I’m looking for in a spinning fiber. Subtle and rich; I love to imagine how I would spin her wools and what I’d knit them into. I do have some in my stash, so I’m sure they’ll make an appearance here eventually.

(photo by pigeonroofstudios on etsy)

I don’t know if I’ll ever be lucky enough to get my spinning hands on some fiber dyed by pigeonroofstudios – it’s not that easy to come by and I’ve never seen a UK stockist, but a girl can hope. I did knit a pair of socks from pigeonroof yarn, and it was as amazing as I’d dreamed it would be. As far as I know, pigeonroof yarns and wools are kettle dyed, which produces a really special and unique effect – every skein seems to have a million colors all blending into one glorious cacophony of color. These are just about the only multi-colored yarns that make me daydream – others mostly just make me worry about pooling and flashing and pattern obscuring. But these, sigh. Even if I can’t get them right now, I still love admiring them.

(photo by DyeForYarn on etsy)

Lastly, one of my very favorite inspirations, a shop I visit regularly just to take it all in, Dye For Yarn. I haven’t yet been lucky enough to knit any Dye For Yarn goods – yet! – but these are colors like no other, absolutely worth admiring even if it’s just online for now. I could visit daily just to get lost in the colors, textures, and amazing photography.

There are more, but these are the most inspirational to me at the moment. I hope I will be lucky enough to touch, feel, and knit all of these yarns one day but, for now, it’s enough just to dream.

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