Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011: Better Off Not Knowing

All this week my postings are a part of the 2nd Annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week. To learn more about it, just click here.

Strolling through my local thrift store the other day, I came upon a hand knitted hat hanging on a hook. I pull it down to examine it closer. It was small, pale blue and  knitted in simple stockinette. It was made for an infant. I wondered about the story and life behind this little hat. Maybe a grandmother had knitted it for their new grandson. Now that grandson is all grown up and headed off to college. Or maybe, like myself, some kind stranger knitted it for charity, hoping it would warm the head of a poor unfortunate child in need. Hopefully that child has grown up to become someone willing to help others the way someone had helped them.

Then a thought struck me hard in my heart. What if this hat was never used? What if the intended recipient never got a chance to wear it? At home at the very bottom of my stash box I have a small dark grey sweater and a half-finished white baby blanket. Both items were meant for my son. Neither item had the chance to be used.

I had a lot of grand knitting  and crochet plans while I was pregnant, but those plans were brutally interrupted with my acute liver failure and the untimely birth of my son at only 26 weeks while I was in a coma. Instead of showing off  my bundle of joy wrapped in some fancy crochet blanket, we both laid in the hospital fighting for our lives.

His christening gown would never be finished. Instead, he was baptised while covered in tubes and wires a day before his death at the age of only six month.

There would be no fast clicking of needles or the magic of my hook making cloth out of thin air. It would take me a month to learn how to feed myself and another three months to learn how to walk without assistance. My son would spend the first three of his only six months of life in a hospital, never to fully recover from his early birth under such extreme conditions.

My son and I would become known for being the hospital’s  first successful rare back to back liver transplant and child birth at 26 weeks. I would have rather been known as the mother who knits her son way too many socks.

I look back down at the hat in my hand. Maybe I’m better off not knowing the story behind this little hat. Besides, I carry far too many unfinished stories of my own.

B.A. Mystery Solved!

I went on Ravelry last night to discover that someone on the Patons Beehive Fan Group had responded to my inquiries about the meaning of the mysterious abbreviation, B.A., that was found in a baby shawl pattern. The wonderful knitting angel, PurpleSage supplied the answer:

It defines B.A. as follows:
“B.A.=Broderie Anglaise – work as follows: slip next 4 sts purlwise dropping w.r.n.s. of previous row, slip 4 sts back on to left-hand needle, insert point of right-hand needle and work (K.1, P.1) twice into these 4 sts, counting these 4 sts as 1 st.”

After weeks of looking up information and following clues, I knew that one day the answer would reveal itself. PurpleSage, may the knitting gods bless you with lots of beautiful yarns, plenty of time to knit, and may all your knitting projects come out right the first time!

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011: Yarn Stash, Interupted

All this week my postings are a part of the 2nd Annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week. To learn more about it, just click here.

Most knitters and crocheters, unless they just had their workroom redecorated by Martha Stewart herself, would be crazy to share photos of their yarn stash. We all know how just a few balls of yarn in a plastic bag can quickly multiply into a unruley herd that flows from the knitting basket into the closet, under the bed, in the hallway closet, the kitchen cabinets, etc.

We crafters try hard to hide what we have and never admit to ourselves, (or our spouses), just how much yarn we own. Well, I’m going to break that code of silence by showing you all how and where I keep my yarn. I have to tell you know that what you are about to see is only about half the amount that I really own. Since I go back and forth between two states I have two stashes. This is my Arizona stash. I have a whole other stash in California. Enjoy!

My Plastic Costco Bin Of Yarn

 

Current Knitting On Top Of My Dresser

 

More Knitting On The Reading Nook

 

More Knitting On The Nightstand

 

Knitting Needle Stash Housed In A German Beer Mug

 

Bag of Yarn and Spinning Hiding in the Closet

 

My Spinning Stuffed In a Dresser Drawer

 

Yes, There Is Even Yarn In My Purse

 

Even My Hubby Has His Yarn & Projects Hanging Around

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011: You Got Skills!

All this week my postings are a part of the 2nd Annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week. To learn more about it, just click here.

My Very First Two Needle Sock

Looking back on where I was this time last year, I am just amazed at just how much I’ve grown in regards to my knitting.

If you had told me last year that by this time I would have a pattern available on Ravelry, I would have laughed in your face. What started off as just me taking on another knitting challenge to conquer by knitting my first pair of socks, has now turned into a passion of wanting to make and promote two needle sock knitting. 

I can still remember being frustrated at how I was all thumbs trying to knit a sock on double-pointed needles. And how jealous I was watching Cookie A working on her latest sock at the local knitting group. She could make almost any sock yarn her bitch and I wanted to be able to do that.

I watched every YouTube video I could find on how to knit socks using various methods. I tried toe up and top down, sideways, knitting loom and even crochet. It was some random obscure pattern that I ran across online that finally made it all come together for me. Child socks knitted on two needles with a seam down the back and on the sides. Pure magic! 

After knitting my first sock with this pattern everything just started to make sense for me. I studied other sock patterns, learning about sock history and sock construction. Soon I was able to read a top down sock pattern and be able to convert it into a two needle pattern. Now, I have sketch books  full of ideas and thoughts of publishing my own book of two needle sock designs!

A Recent Sock Design

I have learned and grown a lot. But I am nowhere near considering myself an expert by any means.  I am not ashamed to confess that there are still things I have yet to learn in knitting. My lace knitting is a true testament to resisting the urge to frog. I still have never done a cable pattern. My  I-cords look more like I-won’ts. And no matter how hard I try, I suck at Faire Isle.

The wonderful thing about the needle arts is that you are encouraged to always keep growing and learning and just when you think you’ve learned it all, there is always something new just waiting around the bin.

So, what new skills / techniques have you learned this past year?

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011: In Defense of Acrylic Yarn

All this week my postings are a part of the 2nd Annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week. To learn more about it, just click here.

Let me first start off by saying that I am an equal opportunity yarn user. I strongly believe in giving ever yarn a chance. There is no such thing to me as ‘bad’ yarn.

With that being said, I find offense in those who persist in putting down acrylic yarns. I can understand personal preferences for one yarn type over the other, put to dismiss acrylic to the point of wanting to excommunicate it from the church of yarn is just going to far.

Acrylic has had a history of being hard and stiff, but no more so then wool being equated with smelly and itchy. Yet, like wool, acrylic has improved in quality over the years. Please, before you turn up your nose at this step-child of the knitting and crochet world, why not allow me to enlighten you on why you should take a second look at acrylic.

Acrylic is a synthetic fiber that was developed by the DuPont Corporation in 1941. It is in the same family is nylon, polyester and micro fiber. (That’s for those of you who look down your nose at acrylic while picking up four skeins of cotton/micro fiber blend for your next project.)

Considered ’cheap’ yarn, by many, I believe its low coast is one of the things that makes acrylic so popular. Personally speaking, I find it hard to pay $35.00 for a skein of yarn- even if it is made of cashmere, handspun and hand dyed. For many crafters, especially just starting out, it is difficult to justify spending large amounts of money like that. Acrylic gives you that chance to make something beautiful with little financial investment. And most people can agree that seeing a sweater you tried to knit turn into a multi-armed glob feels less heart-wrenching having paid $8.50 for the yarn then if you had dished out $85.00 for it.

A professional chameleon, acrylic can be whatever you want it to be. Praised for its properties that are so similar to that of wool, acrylic has the ability to mimic such yarns as the highly revered cashmere. Pashmina and cashmina are the acrylic versions. (Yes, those are acrylics, not cashmere from some other exotic breed of goat.) Fun fur and eyelash can give credit to acrylic for making them a fashion craze. And lets not forget how acrylic brought the words ’novelty yarns’ into the vocabulary of every crafter with such offerings as Chenille and Lame. An acrylic yarn I recently worked with has the look and feel of handspun felted wool. From super bulky to spider web lace- acrylic yarn’s versatility is endless.

Within acrylic’s durability lies its greatest strength. How many yarns can hold up to multiple machine washings in various water temperatures? Show me a yarn that can withstand the constant pull and strain from the tight tension of new knitters just learning to knit and purl. Give me a yarn that has been able to stand up to continuous household wear and abuse. I don’t believe we have ever asked any other yarn to work as a kitchen accessory, outdoor rug, sweater, purse, slipper, coat, toy, bathroom accessory, sock, rag, table runner, bedspread, baby blanket and various other items- while expecting it to perform to the same high standard in each area. Acrylic is resistant to moths, oil, chemicals and is very resistant to deterioration from being exposed to sunlight. This is why, like Twinkies and cockroaches, acrylic will be around long after we are gone.

Now, here is where I usually hear from people about the fact that acrylic is man made and the chemicals used to make it is poisoning our waters, polluting our air, threatening our eco system and sending our world into utter self destruction. Yes, acrylic is a man made chemical based product. But compared to how many items currently in every home, school and hospital around the world that is made from and/or depends on acrylic, its yarn form is in no way making that big of a carbon footprint on our world.

So, before you dismiss acrylic yarn as some dark shameful part of needlecraft history that should never be spoken of again, entertain me with this little experiment. Go to your local yarn store, pick up a soft yarn like Lion Brand Homespun, cast on and see if acrylic doesn’t stitch its way back into a respectable place in your heart.

Sock Inspiration Sunday

Lotta Whimsy Sock Pattern

These socks were designed by Becka of Whimsical Knitting designs. You can find the pattern and learn more about Becka at:

http://whimsicalknittingdesigns.blogspot.com/2008/11/lotta-whimsy-socks-pattern-aka-touch-of.html

Sock Yarn Saturday

Imagination Hand Painted Sock Yarn

 

Imagination Hand Painted Sock Yarn By Knit Picks

Content: 50% Merino Wool 25% Superfine Alpaca, 25% Nylon
Weight: Fingering Weight
Knitting Gauge: 7 – 8 sts = 1 on # 1-3 needles (2.25mm-3.25mm)
Crochet Gauge: 21 – 32 sc = 4” on B – E hooks (2.25mm-3.5mm)
Amount: 219 yards/50 gram hank
Care: Hand Wash/Dry Flat

Interested? Find out more about this yarn at:

http://www.knitpicks.com/yarns/Imagination_Hand_Painted_Sock_Yarn__D5420173.html

My Cute Little Sock

image

Okay, I just couldn’t wait to share my freshly made sock. Just clipped the last piece of thread before I snapped a picture of this lovely creature.

Yes, a pattern for the sock will be posted soon. But right now I feel like a proud mamma showing off my little baby. Isn’t it just percious?

Grandma Medcalf

On March 10, 2011, we lost a wonderfully beautiful woman. Her name was Mildred Medcalf, better known by all of us as simply Grandma Medcalf. She was the grandmother of my husband’s best friend. A witty woman with incredibale strength and wicked crochet skills. One of the last few items she crocheted was a baby blanket for our daughter, shown above.

Grandma Medcalf will be greatly missed. I will always remember her wonderful spirit every time I pick up a hook and yarn. We love you Grandma!

2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

Okay, so all you knitting and crochet bloggers, you better get those fingers ready to do some typing. The 2nd annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week is coming up and we need your help to make it happen.

Click the link here: http://eskimimiknits.com/knitting-and-crochet-blog-week-2011/

Each day a different subject is selected for us to write about. Imagine, thousands of us giving our own personal take on the same subject on the exact same day. Sounds crazy? Well, of course it is! That is what makes it so much fun.

I only heard about this last year after it had already happened. So, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss the event this year.

The best part is that the questions are already posted on the link above, so you can answer the questions now and then schedule your postings for that week. So go to the link, learn more about it and join me in a week of united blogging about the crafts we know and love.