Tools of the Trade

What do you need when you first start knitting? The simple answer is two needles and yarn.  When I first started this addiction hobby, that’s all I needed. I had a project in mind (a simple cozy for my e-reader), so I bought a ball of Red Heart Super Saver (I know better now!), and two 6mm needles.

Almost six years later, my collection of knitting accoutrements has grown substantially, and there are a number of things I couldn’t do without. In my very humble opinion, these are a few tools every knitter should have.

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Row Counter

For my first project, I was improvising an e-reader cover. I was making a long rectangle which would be sewn together at the sides.  It was simple enough that I knew I would knit it as long as needed and then cast off.  Not all projects are this simple. I would be at a loss for lace patterns or cable patterns without a row counter. Row counters track where you are in your project.  They are especially handy when you have several detailed projects on the go. Didn’t touch that lace shawl for months? No worries! A quick glance at your row counter, and that bad boy is ready for knitting!

The best part: they are cheap! Don’t spend more than a few dollars on a row counter – I think I can get four in a pack from a LYS and it’s less than $10.


Measuring Tape

Again, another inexpensive tool any well stocked knitting bag shouldn’t be without. Many patterns tell you to ‘knit for ## of inches.’ Unless you have an extremely good eye for measurements, your measuring tape will become your knitting BFF.


Needle Cases

Needles, of varying sizes and types, may seem like obvious tools knitters need, so obvious that they don’t need including on this list. What becomes necessary after accumulating these assorted needles is a way to store and organize them. I have three needle cases: a roll for my straights, an expandable file (intended for receipt organization) for my circulars, and I use a pencil case to store my DPNs.


Knitting Bag

Once you’ve collected all the tools, bits, and bobs that will make your knitting life much simpler, you’ll need somewhere to keep it. I love my knitting bag, largely because the message on the front speaks so many truths, but also because it’s big enough to keep all my knitting accessories, plus a few different in-progress projects.  Find something that works for you: want to buy the biggest and best with pockets for everything you have and more? Great! Want to use one of those re-usable canvas bags that very quickly accumulate in a closet somewhere? That’s great too! Organization methods are very personal, just find something that suits what you need it for and ultimately something that makes you happy, because if it’s like my knitting bag, it will get a lot of use.


What knitting tools are your must-haves? 

A Few Finished Objects

Last week, I wrote how I had a major case of start-itis – symptoms of which include being unable to stop casting on new projects, despite how many WIPs a person has on the go. This start-itis isn’t showing signs of being cured, having started three new projects last week.  Seriously, I can’t stop finding new patterns and going through my stash to see what I can use.

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The good thing about so many projects on the go is that I was able to finish three objects last week.  The first were these Cableship socks.  I started them in October as a knit-a-long by KnitPurl Hunter.  The first sock was finished early November, but this second one was put into hibernation until after Christmas knitting was complete.  In the week after Christmas, I struggled my way through Judy’s Magic Cast-on and a few weeks later, I was able to wear the newly finished pair of socks.

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Also finished was a slouchy hat for my dad. Fun story -the wool is 100% Peruvian Alpaca, and we ventured to a local Alpaca farm to by the yarn. My goodness, alpacas must be some of the freaking cutest animals around. When we arrived at the farm, we were greeted by a herd (is that right, herd?) of Border Collies who were obviously working dogs, and we also got a peak at their pigs. They had to be the fattest pigs I’ve ever seen in my life. So that’s the story of they yarn for this hat.  Dad received it yesterday. It fits and he’s happy.

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Finally, on Friday, I bought yarn and cast on a Pussyhat.  Have you heard of this? If not, I HIGHLY recommend heading over to their website and reading more about this movement. In a nutshell, there will be a women’s march on Washington on January 21, and marchers are encouraged to wear these knit hats, the name taken as both a play on on the word pussycat and as reference to how the US President-Elect brags about sexually assaulting women. As stated on their Ravelry page:

The PussyHat Project aims to:

  1. Provide the people of the Women’s March on Washington D.C. a means to make a unique collective visual statement which will help activists be better heard.
  2. Provide people who cannot physically be on the National Mall a way to represent them- selves and support women’s rights.

A Facebook friend of my sister’s asked for a hat to be made, and I happily obliged.  It knit up VERY quickly; I cast on Friday evening and by Sunday I had it finished and ready for my sister to give to the recipient.

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Please visit their website and read more about this initiative.

 

Knit all the projects!

I have a major case of start-itis.  I can’t stop casting on. This is very unusual for me, because as a product knitter, I usually have no more than three projects on the go, determined to see them through to the end. But after the holidays ended, I can’t stop looking at patterns and starting new projects.


Considering all things, I was fairly on top of my holiday knitting this year.  I made three things for three recipients, the first was a sweater for my mother, which was finished early October.  Grandma received a Sontag, and this was finished early November. The knitting crunch hit in late November when I decided to make my Grandad a pair of socks.  I made the Harvest Festival pattern which created this lovely pattern texture to the fabric, but it was certainly more fiddly than a pair of vanilla socks. For just shy of a month, my knitting energy was dedicated exclusively to these socks.  I hit my goal and finished them three days before Christmas.

Perhaps these socks are the reason for my knitting enthusiasm.  Most of December was spent on one pair of socks, so now I’m itching to try new patterns, to use yarn that’s been stashed for months and newly purchased yarn (because it was just so pretty and wanted to come home with me). Despite having six projects actively on the go, I can’t stop thinking of other patterns, looking for the right one to use on my new Manos del Uruguay or my stashed IndigoDragonfly. I also want to make new gloves for me and gloves as a gift (because it’s Canada, and ’tis the season), and I know a few people who are expecting little ones this year and who doesn’t love knitting for babies! Long story short, I want to knit all the things. A few rows here, an odd round there, and sure enough they’ll all get done.

The 2017 Knit List

Happy New Year!! How is it possible that it’s 2017 already? My goodness! This year is going to be a busy one as my work is celebrating an anniversary, and as many of you know, I’m Canadian, and it’s a big year for us here, being the 150th anniversary of Confederation.  It’s hard to think about the year and not associate it with this milestone.  I’m sure 2017 will bring many good memories and celebrations.

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Now that Christmas knitting is complete, my thoughts can turn selfish again and I can start thinking of what I’ve been itching to make. I’ve bought all the needed yarn and purchased the pattern, so I think the first selfish thing I’ll make is Madewell cardigan by Joji Locatelli.  Call me crazy for wanting to make a cardi with fingering weight yarn, but I’ve been in love with this design since I first found it on Ravelry.  The whimsical elbow patches just add to the love of this pattern, and the hard part will be deciding what colours to make them with!

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Madewell by Joji Locatelli; image © Joji Locatelli

I’ve also purchased the materials I need to complete KnitPurl Hunter’s Scoreboard Scarf. This project is planned in my head, I know for what team and what season I’ll be making, but in case this is read by its intended recipient, I won’t say much more than that for now…

In 2016, I completed 6 pairs of socks.  Socks are such an ideal project for carrying around and picking up whenever I have a spare moment.  I’m not going to set a goal for myself for how many pairs I’ll make this year, as I don’t want any self-inflicted pressure on my knitting habits, but I’m sure I’ll crank out a few pairs, and I’m sure one of which will be designed by Erica Lueder.  I’m surprised that I haven’t written yet about how much I love her patterns, their designs and the thought that she puts into them. I’ve knit three and a half pairs of her socks, and I’m sure I’ll be adding to the collection.

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Erica Lueder socks, L-R: Hermione’s Every Day Sock, Weasley Rib, and Devil’s Snare

Also kicking around my Ravelry queue for some time is another historic pattern, Godey’s Woolen Chemisette from 1857. I’d love to knit this pattern and write a corresponding blog post on the history of this article of clothing.  There’s no time deadline for when this chemisette needs to be complete, but it’s been a while since I’ve muddled my way through a historic pattern, and I’d like to make at least one next year.

So between socks, fingering weight cardigans, and a pattern from the 1850s, I’ll have enough to keep me busy in the early part of 2017.

What’s on your knit list for this year?

Like learning to knit, all over again

Best friend sent me a message last week, asking if I could knit something for her daughter. The project request:

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Azul Pullover – photo © Heidi May

If you’ve spent any time on Ravelry recently, I’m sure the Azel Pullover by Velvet Acorn Designs is familiar as it spends a lot of time high up on the Hot Right Now pages.  Of course I would make this stylish sweater for one of my favourite mini-humans!

Demonstrating the popularity of this pattern, when I stopped in at one of my favourite LYSs, the owner said she couldn’t keep the recommended yarn on the shelves long enough!  I bought six lovely squishy balls of Bernat Softee Chunky, and knowing that I already had the required 9mm needle, I happily headed home to start this new project.

I cast on the required stitches and started with the pattern, and right away, it became painfully evident that I’m out of practice knitting with super bulky yarn! I was unsure of how I was holding the needles, the yarn feeling foreign wrapped around my index finger for tension.  Recently, the heaviest yarn I’m using is the worsted weight Cascade 220, and my usual travel projects are two pairs of socks.  Going from 2.5mm to 9mm, it’s no wonder why everything was feeling so unfamiliar!

One thing I will say about this project is that it is a very fast knit!  After a few dedicated evenings, my pullover is taking great shape:

The quarter gives you an idea of how big these stitches are! I’ll be sure to share pictures of this lovely pullover once it’s finished, and if I keep at the rate I’ve been going, it’ll be finished in less than a week’s time.