Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Beginnings of a Crocheter

For the last while I've been thinking about crocheting.  I think it would be pretty accurate to describe my crochet ability as "free style".   I'm sure I made the crocheters in my knitting groups cringe when I said I was going to crochet a border onto a knitting project!  My crocheting would go something like this.  Grab the first hook I could find (size didn't really matter as long as it was close to my needle size) then I would do a yarn over the hook, pull it through a few loops, yarn over again and finish off the stitches in one manner or another.  If I was lucky I would do whatever I was doing for the entire edge but now that I've brushed up on my crochet stitches I'm sure I was randomly mixing in double and half double sts all along my edge.  Whatever I was doing it was good enough for me, until now.  Now I want to learn to crochet properly.

I went looking for my crochet hooks and found that for not being a crocheter I had a pretty good collection ranging in size from .75mm to 15mm and a good variety of makes of hooks.

 The majority were the old favourites Aero, Boye and Susan Bates but I also found Milward, Red Heart, Prims, H.A. Kidd, Unique and Esprit.  Most are plastic, some are metal and one was bamboo.  One would think this would get me off to a good start brushing up on my stitches; but no, instead I was on a quest to find "the best" hook on the market.  

Starting a snowflake in the round using Patons Classic Wool

This led Santa to leaving me 3 new hooks in my Christmas stocking.  The hook above is an Addi 4mm with an ergonomically designed handled.  The hook is nickel, the same as their knitting needles which was nice.  It took me a few tries to get the hang of how to hold onto this hook.  At first I found my hand sliding up onto the hook and I found it more comfortable not to hold onto the handle.  It got easier the more I practiced.

A finished snowflake using left over sock yarn
My second new hook was also an Addi 2mm comfort grip hook.  It seemed to work well and I found it easier to hold onto and if price is a consideration this hook is $9 compared to the first Addi hook at $18.

My last new hook was the Clover 4mm Soft Touch.  This ended up being my favourite of the three.  The hook picked up the stitches nicely, I liked the feel of the handle and it is reasonable priced at $8.  This is the hook that I used most often to make the snowflakes that I was practicing on.  In the end I didn't find "the best" hook.  They all did the job and I will use them all again.  It's just like knitting needles; wood, metal, dpns, circular, pointy, blunt, fixed or interchangeable it's all about personal preference.  

Beads next time??

 I had fun crocheting these snowflakes and it gave me lots of opportunity to work on my stitches which I apparently needed, lol!  The finished snowflake was to have 6 points.  The first one I made had 6 points, the next had 5 points and the one after that had 7 points and the one pictured below ended up with a lopsided point!  Ooops!  

Made with crochet cotton and a 2mm hook

I didn't pull any of them out.  They say no two snowflakes are the same right and mine are proof of that.  I'll get to look at them every Christmas and remember the year I made them during the week between Christmas and New Years.

I blocked them and hung them on the tree. I don't want to jinx myself by saying that I've perfected the pattern because it's totally possible a picot might be missing on one of the points but I'm doing much better.

Not to worry though, I'm not giving up my knitting for crocheting any time soon.  In between snowflakes I'd pick up a sock and knit a few rows.  It felt good to do something familiar!

I'm still working on snowflakes but Valentine's Day is around the corner so hearts seemed in order :)

If you want to read a review of crochet hooks and check out a great crochet and knitting blog take a look at Stacey's blog over at FreshStitches.  She's an amazing crocheter and knitter.  

This is the link to the video on how to crochet the snowflake.

And here is the link for the heart pattern.  Enjoy!

Happy Knitting (and crocheting)!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Unsung Hero - The Darning Needle

Since one of my knitting goals today was to get back to blogging, here is a quick post to help me back on track!  

Yesterday my daughter brought down a sock that I had knit her for Christmas. She told me that she loved them, they were super warm and she would love me to knit more for her but would I mind sewing in the ends in this one sock.  I guess in my excitement of having both socks finished well before Christmas Eve I had forgotten to darn in some ends, oops!  

Of course this only took a couple of minutes but it got me to thinking.  I'm always on the lookout for "the best" knitting needles (and lately crochet hooks) so it got me to thinking  what about my darning needles. I have tons to choose from but I always bypass all of them looking for my one and only needle with a bent tip.

I have darning needles in every shape and size; plastic, metal, long, short, some with large eyes, some with small eyes, most with blunt tips but a few with pointy tips that I just use for the Rusian Join but only one with a bent tip.  In the past I haven't been all that particular about what needle I was using.  Since these needles always seem to go missing I would usually count myself lucky to just find one and not worry if it was plastic or metal.  These days though I'm all about having the right tools for the job.

For me its a nice sized metal darning needle with a large eye for easy threading, a blunt tip to keep the stitches from splitting and a bent tip for easily picking up those stitches.

Any thoughts on your favourites?

Friday, December 19, 2014

One day late....but finished!

The sock is finished! I didn't meet my self imposed deadline of Wednesday night; I finished shaping the toe in the wee hours of the morning last night (Thursday) but it's finished and I'm super happy about it!

It would have been finished the night before but I got distracted by this new project.  My daughter asked me to go see a movie with her so I needed a new project suitable for movie theater knitting.  I grabbed a needle and yarn, cast on during the previews and knit away on this broken rib scarf. 

I'm not sure about the fate of this scarf.  Even though it is a rib stitch the edges are still curling.  I have a feeling it will be ripped out. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A finished sock today.....??

These socks are my latest secret Christmas knitting project. Just a plain pair of socks, nothing fancy for two reasons:  1) Christmas is only 7 days, 13 hours and 25 mins away and I still have other gifts to knit and  2)  These are for a man and honestly I don't think he is going to care if they have a fun cable pattern on them or not.  I think he'll be happier unwrapping a finished pair of plain, warm hand knit socks instead of a fancy unfinished pair.

But because men have such big feet I really wanted to find a foot that I could use to try them on.  It took a little talking but I found a somewhat willing foot model (who I must say needs to learn to appreciate the fine art of photography - finding the right pose, lighting and angle takes time!  Any guesses who my model was ?)

The foot is half finished and I'm hoping, really, really hoping that I can finish it tonight.  I have a scarf and a pair of mitts waiting to be cast on.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Huge Thank You!

Hi Knitters, I thought it was time to check in with you all after what seems like a long few months away that have been filled with surgery, tests, results and a lot of quiet time spent healing.

I have been SO lucky to have such wonderful friends and family to help me along the way.  There have been so many cards, messages, flowers, phone calls, visits, long talks, hugs, wonderful food, gifts and support during appointments that I wanted to say thank you to you all.  I could not have gotten this far on my own.

Since being a Knitter and have lots of knitting friends, many gifts have been knitting related.  I thought you might want to see some of these thoughtful gifts that made me smile (and cry) realizing what great friends I have.

flowers in the hospital

flowers from my parents
Lots of thoughtful knitting gifts

This is an Elizabeth Zimmermann pi shawl - Hearts knit by Amanda.  It is silk and it is beautiful!!
The yarn on the left is hand spun and hand dyed.  I have the perfect project lined up for it! Sock yarn in my colours.  These socks will be an after Christmas project for me.

These are all great books/magazines.  I've started a pattern from the magazine and I've picked out a few mosaic patterns to knit after Christmas. The novel is really good.  Will be reading more from this author.

More lovely flowers from one of my knitting groups.  The candle smells wonderful and doesn't the mug totally look like Wildflower Wool!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Last of our Fair Knitting Fun

Wow, so much has been going on that I didn't realize just how long it's been since I had blogged last.  I have some catching up to do!  My last few posts had been about the knitting fun at the Western Fair so let me show you what we did on the last day.

My Son's birthday was the next day so we decorated the booth with balloons and brought in gifts,

 the painting ladies at the booth beside us brought him in a coffee, a donut and a gift card,

and we had some Knitters stop by to knit with us so we created a knitting circle in front of the booth.
All week long we had people knit on our community charity project.  On the first day of the fair I cast on this scarf with the goal of knitting the entire ball into a nice size scarf to donate to one of our local charities, Keeping Kids Warm.  This proved easy to do.  Some people learned the knit stitch and knit a stitch or two on this scarf and others pulled up a chair to sit, knit a few rows and chat for a while. 

When the last Sunday of the fair came around I was hopeful that we could get 200 different people to knit on our scarf.

This officer had been at the fair all 10 days with us at a booth on the other side of our building.  A couple of nights during the week we ended up leaving the building at the same time and each time I invited him to try his hand at knitting. I knew he wasn't all that excited about nurturing his inner Knitter but if you know me at all, you know I don't let too many people get away without trying at least one stitch.  I caught up with him on the last night :)

After about 8pm on a Sunday night the building quiets down quite a bit so I decided to take the scarf around to the other vendors in the building so they could be part of our project.
The high school and university students in the robotics club all knit.  Some were hesitant but I assured them that if they could build a robot they could learn the knit stitch!!

The Bee Guy was a lot of fun and knit a few stitches for us.  We made a knitting date for next year at the fair so he can refresh his new found knitting skills.

  This was probably the craziest thing I've ever done to get someone to knit; thank goodness Lady the alligator didn't seem to mind my hand so close to her mouth!

The egg lady knit a row,

 and this was the 200th Knitter!
Robyn is one of the hard working fair employees who always visits the booth for her once a year knitting lesson.  This year we tracked her down in her office for a little knitting time.
Amanda had the honour of casting off the final stitches of the scarf - 1 ball of yarn and 203 knitters later.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sit and Knit at the Western Fair 2014

The Sit and Knit has become an annual event on the first Sunday afternoon of the Western Fair.  Wildflower Wool hosts this event and each year I pick a fun knitting theme for the afternoon.  This year it was arm knitting.
This was some of the yarn we used for the arm knitting - we had lots to pick from!
Since we were working with mostly worsted weight yarns we held approximately 10 strands of yarn together to make our working yarn.

This was 20 minutes worth of arm knitting - it is super fast!

Everyone had lots of fun making their scarves!
There was some needle knitting happening as well,
and some sock knitting.

 Thanks to everyone who volunteered for the afternoon and to all of the Knitters who stopped by to give arm knitting a try and made themselves a one of a kind scarf.  It was a great afternoon!