Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Magic loop issues

Yesterday I cast on for my legwarmers. I couldn't figure out how to get it so that there were 20 stitches on one half of the needle and 20 on the other half. You have to fold the cord in half and slide the stitches to do magic loop. So off to Knitch I go to ask for help after work today. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong, I just don't know what it is. I am doing 2 at a time not just one. If it was one I could do it.

I have been working on my Packer sock the last few days. It's amazing how learning to knit on 2 circulars makes knitting with magic loop easy. All magic loop is is knitting with one less needle. The cord acts like second needle. I had not knit on the sock for a long time and had forgotten how to knit with it. I stopped and realized it's like knitting with 2 needles. So once that was straight in my head. I was able to knit corectly. I was turing the work instead of pulling out needles and I was making garter stitch when I wanted stockinette. I am now racing along and it's looking good. I'm past the toe (it's toe up) and working toward the ankle bone. This is my favorite part of the sock. It's just endless knitting in the round for awhile.

I think when I finish the sock, I will try doing 2 at a time but it will be with 2 different sock yarns. I will knit the other Packer sock and then start on another sock with different yarn. It's the same pattern, just differnt yarn. Should be interesting. I've also decided I like magic loop for socks, especially using sock weight yarn. Using 2 circulars seems to give me ladders at the joins or start of the rows. I wasn't sure I liked magic loop because I didn't understand it. But working with 2 circs makes magic loop easier. But I think that was the whole point of inventing it.

Here is a video on how to do magic loop:

Watching that video, I think I am doing it wrong. I am pulling out the bottom needle all the time and not the top one. It looks ok.... sigh.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ribbing...I finally figured it out--this time for real!

Yes, I said I could do ribbing but I think I got lucky on my mittens. I was watching a video and it said you K2, P2 and then turn your work. When you do the next row you knit the knits and purl the purls. I was just doing K2, P2 every row. I figured that's that what you do! I feel like such a dork! I have been knitting for a year and hadn't figured this out. Maybe now I can do ribbing on a circular needle! I am so excited to try this "new" method!

Last night I ripped out the 4-5 rows of non-ribbing I had done and cast on 78 sttiches again. After work I will sit down and conquer this ribbing. Hopefully I can put one more knitting feather in my hat. I had said in an earlier post that I was doing the ssk wrong. So I fixed that technique I was doing wrong. Now if I could just make mittens without seams.

Here is a video that explains K2, P2 ribbing:

Final mitten pictures

Our desktop computer died so I couldn't take pictures of mitten #1. The thumb looks bad. Anyway, here are pictures of Mitten #2.

This is mitten #2. I really like how this side looks. Make sure you click on the pictures to get a closer look. I'm proud of this side of the mitten!

This is the palm side of mitten #2. See what I mean by the seams? Yuck!

This is the palm side of Mitten #1. As you can see the finishing on the top of the mitten is different. It's flat and not gathered like mitten #2. I think. Oh well. I followed the pattern.

Mitten distress

I am done with my mittens. Yeah!...??? I looked into felting and learned you need hot water and agitation to felt. So I can't felt my mittens just using them in snow. I realized that if I really wanted to felt them I would have to make them 2-3 times larger than they are. I saw an example in the yarn store and I was shocked. The unfelted mitten really was 2-3 times larger and the felted one was normal size. These are work mittens. I'm afraid to felt them for fear they would be to small to wear. I thought about ripping them out and making something else. My knitting is so bad, I have these awful seams (for lack of a better word) running all over the place. I have holes and gaps around the thumbs. The ribbing on both mittens look different. I am glad that I figured out I can do ribbing-if only on straight needles.

I am concerned they won't be warm if they aren't felted. But the gansey sweaters-In Ireland, Scotland and England women would knit their men fancy intricate sweaters. The men would wear them as they fished and they would get wet but because of the wool and tight knitted construction it kept them warm. Here's a link to the history of gansey sweaters if you are interested: http://www.flamboroughmanor.co.uk/pdf/FMCataloguePDF.pdf

I really want to work on something else so I will keep these, use them and see how they are. Maybe I will be surprised. Come on snow, I'm ready for ya!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Decision made!

I thought and thought and researched and slept on it and just placed my order for the Knit Picks Yarn. I decided to buy it even though I said I didn't want to spend money on yarn. Why? Well, during my research I was reading about alpaca and socks and how lovely they are together. My alpaca is sport weight and would make great bed socks. That thought excited me far more than legwarmers did. Also I kept coming back to memory and stretch. Wool has plenty of both. I wanted the control and consistancy wool gives you. Alpaca...not so much. I have read horror stories of people who have knit an alpaca sweater, hand washed it, and it grew enormous. The knitter was distraught. You also have to knit with way smaller needles to compensate.

Needles...I have a pair of size 4 needle tips. These needles are interchangables. You have needles tips and cables/cords. You screw the needles into each end the cord and you have a circular needle! I want to knit these legwarmers 2 at a time either on 2 circulars or magic loop. The thought of making these 1 at a time does not give me a good feeling. I want to wear them asap! Using sport weight will take far long to knit than worsted weight. Depending on what size needle I will use, I will have to buy some tips. I will knit the cuffs flat and then transfer to circulars later. I will get the yarn next week sometime. My mittens will be done either today or tommorow.

Thank you for bearing with me as I agonized over this. It wasn't just about money, it was also the fiber that was a big decision. This is a crap shoot since I have never seen or touched or knit with this yarn before. I may hate it or I may love it. But if knitting with the Rowan Purelife is any indication (love love love it!) I will like it enough.

More yarn thoughts

I took a closer look at the alpaca yarn I have and it is not a worsted weight. I compared it to the sock yarn I have and it is twice the thickness of the sock yarn. So I am guessing it is a sport weight. I do not know how many ply it is as the tag does not have that info. So if it is a sport weight, then I think my needle size needs to really go down. Maybe a 2 or a 3. I have size 3. I've never knit anything smaller than a 4. I'm not sure if I will have enough yarn now. Tomorrow I will go to St. Vincent DePaul and look for size 1 and 2 needles. I have two pairs of size 3 straights . I am planning on choosing a size, knitting the ribbing on straight needles. I will see how it fits around my ankle/leg and then go from there. Most likely I will have to buy some circular needles to finish them in the round. I figure it works for the mittens, it can work for the legwarmers. I'm not completely sold on using the alpaca but I really don't want to spend money on yarn right now. Plus if I need to buy needles, I will need that money for the needles. The thing that depresses me is since the yarn is sport weight, it will take twice as long to knit them than if they were worsted weight. I also want to knit them 2 at a time on 2 circular needles. I might consider doing magic loop since I have the cords for them. I would just have to buy the needle tips. I would use metal because when you get down to sizes 1-4 the wood can't handle the stress and will break.

Decisions Decisions....

Ok, I'm getting confused. So I got home from work and read the pattern for the legwarmers. Here is what she said about the yarn choices:

"YARN: Use any worsted wool you want, but I am totally sold on Berroco Ultra Alpaca for these. (No association or connection with the company). My reasons -- it has such great bounce-back when knitted up. I also find this yarn to be warm but not hot when inside. I'm somewhat wool sensitive, and it's not one bit itchy, though I definitely thought it would be when I felt it in the skein and when I just had a couple of rows knitted. In fabric form it's sooo soft and squishy and yummy. It's a joy to work with, not at all splitty. It comes in 38 colors and Berroco uses very good quality fibers. Finally, dollarwise it's a great value in terms of quality and amount for the price. So those are all my reasons for such a plug on using this particular yarn for these. As a bonus, with 215 yards per skein and only approx. 120 yds. per color needed for the legwarmers, that leaves me enough yarn left over for a pair of Maine Morning Mitts (free pattern on Ravelry) in each color, or for another item. I bought mine at Yarn and Fiber Company in Derry, NH which has a ton of colors in stock, reasonable pricing and as far as I know, they often don't even charge shipping (but do check if you call them or order from their website). Though Cascade Lana d'Oro worsted has the same 50/50 alpaca/wool content and appears interchangeable, having knitted a pair of mitts out of it, it's no substitute IMHO for a ribbed project that needs bounce back. It's a looser ply, somewhat splitty to work with and it just does not knit up with anywhere near the same heft or memory."

Now, here is an Alpaca site that contradicts what the above says:

1.Alpaca fiber is harder to spin than sheep's wool. TRUE or FALSE?
2.Alpaca fiber has no "memory" so it has to be blended with sheep's wool to make a woolen yarn. TRUE or FALSE?
3.Alpaca fiber needs to be washed before it can be spun. TRUE or FALSE?
4.Alpaca fiber has no crimp. TRUE or FALSE?
5.Alpaca fiber and Llama fiber are very similar or the same. TRUE or FALSE?
6.Alpaca fiber is 3 to 5 times warmer by weight than sheep's wool. TRUE or FALSE?

All of the above statements are false except for the last one. Number 6 is true. There are an awful lot of mis-conceptions out there about alpaca fiber. I often hear other hand spinners say in a knowing voice, "Alpaca fiber has no crimp. You HAVE to mix it with sheep's wool if you want the garment to have memory or bounce." Memory and bounce are two knitter's expressions that both mean that the knitted garment is able to retain its shape after it is worn and washed. If a fiber or wool has no crimp, or very little crimp, it also will not have good bounce or memory.
Let's first be clear on the fact that I am talking about Huacaya alpaca. Many spinners and most of the general public in this country are unaware of the rarer type of Suri alpaca and the specifics of Suri fiber, which I do not plan to discuss in this article. The Huacaya alpaca fiber is the more common variety. But why do so many spinners think that alpaca does not have crimp? Because they buy alpaca fiber from Peru where it is over-processed and often not top quality to begin with. How do I know this? I have bought alpaca fiber in roving form from a spinning store here in the US and spun up this roving. The owner of the store told me it was "1st quality" alpaca. The fiber in the roving was flat. It had no shine, no bounce, and was also coarse. I spun it up into a yarn, which, not surprisingly, turned out coarse with no bounce or shine.

You have taken the True or False quiz and, hopefully, read the article. Don't take my word for any of this! Try some USA-grown, 100% natural colored, chemically-free alpaca fiber from a farm near you. Spin it, knit it, and/or wear it and see if you don't give up your belief in the 5 alpaca myths.

I called the 3 yarn shops in my area and none had The Berroco Ultra Alpaca. One had the Cascade Lana D'Oro. But then I thought about the alpaca I have in my stash. It's not black like I want, it's gray. I do not think it's heavily processed either. I do not know how much bounce it has. But...it will save me a trip and I was thinking of buying the Cascade one that she said was inferior. But then, maybe I could try using my alpaca. I did pay $26.00 for it. The alpaca were born and sheared in Wisconsin the tag says. The pattern calls for 240 yards and I have 250 yards! I want to use it on something. What do you think I should do? Help! I'm turning into Hannah, I can't make a decision!

Yarn dilemma

Yesterday I said I was going to buy the Knit Picks yarn but the person who designed the legwarmers I am going to knit really encourages a 50/50 wool alpaca yarn for bounce and spring back. So I am going to hold off buying anything till tomorrow when I can go to a yarn store in Brookfield to look at some wool/alpaca yarn. This store has at least one if not two kinds. The cost is probably triple per skein than the Knit Picks yarn but if she insists so much maybe it's worth investing.

I am concerned that the alpaca will stretch out. But the wool is there to keep it in line I guess. I do have a skein of 100% alpaca in my stash but I'm afraid that would really stretch. The problem is no one has made these legwarmers other than the designer so i can't see what others have iused and how they turned out. Ravelry is great but there are so many patterns going up every day that some patterns don't get knit by others right away. I may be the first! I will keep you posted.

Monday, January 23, 2012

From Mittens to Legwarmers

Yesterday I was sitting in church freezing and I thought, "I need to knit myself some legwarmers". I have 2 ankle length skirts so no one would see I am wearing them. I figured black would be good since one of my skirts is black. I found a pattern that says they could even be used as support hose, that's how snug they can be. That is exactly what I want since I don't want them to be bulky or slip down my legs.

I went to Knitch today to look at yarn and thought I found what I wanted. It was wool that was $5 for a 50 gram ball. Good price, but then I got home and went to Knit Picks because I knew they had cheap wool. Well, I can get 4 balls of wool at Knitch for $20. But at Knit Picks I can get the same amount for $14.95 and that includes shipping! I have the money so I just have to order the yarn. I figure I should have it either late this week or early next week.

I'm anxious to finish these mittens so I can start on the legwarmers. I feel bad because I have a hat for Joel to remake and a shawl to finish for Grace that seems to be turning into a black hole. There is just so much I want to knit for myself. I also really want to make myself a pair of socks in worsted weight so bad so I have some thick warm socks or bed or for wearing with my boots. To much knitting and no time!

Second mitten progress

I am past the thumb opening on the second mitten. This one seems to be looking better but it's still far from perfect. I still love this yarn! I wish I could knit everything in it. I've given a lot of thought as to what to do with the first mitten. I decided last night I am not going to rip it out and start over. I am quickly getting tired of knitting mittens. I decided that I am going to rip out the thumb and try to widen it. With the second mitten, the pattern says to put 12 stitches on a holder. 12 is not enough, it is to snug. So I put 15 on a holder. Much better. I am also going to lenghten the thumb a row or two. But other than that I will not rip anything out. I will cover up the holes and weak spots. When these mittens are finished I will go outside and rough them up in the snow and get them wet trying to get them to felt. I want to wear these mittens more than I want then to look pretty. They are work mittens.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My mitten...sigh

Well, here are pictures of my mitten. It is turned right side out. As you can see there are unseemly seams

Picture #1 is a full shot of the mitten side one
Picture #2 is shot of mitten side two
Picture #3 is a bettter shot of the seams and lines

As you can see it is not perfect. I am disapointed. I was hoping this would look better. I haven't sewed the cuff yet. Basically what I did was knit the cuff on straight needles then I transfered the stitches onto 2 circular needles and followed the pattern. I just don't know why my knitting is so sloppy. I am working on the second mitten. I can't tell yet how it's looking but the cuff looks totally different on this mitten than the first. Sigh...

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Here is the mitten with about an inch of ribbing.

Here is it with the ribbing done and I am working on the hand. The wrist is not seamed up since I did it on straight needles. Then I put a lifeline in (the green yarn) and put the stitches on 2 circular needles. I was worried I would have to buy 2pairs of size 5 circular needles but I found 2 in Joel's hat. I am going to rip out the hat again and start over. I am thinking this mitten will be a bit tight. I wish I would have increased the stitches by 2-4. The ribbing will really need to stretch to fit aropund my wrist. Maybe I can increase the wrist by at least 4. Progress is quick so if I do decide to rip it out and increase the stitches I should be able to do that. The weather is supposed to be good and only possible flurries on Thursday.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I can do ribbing!!!!!!!!!!!

I figured out I can do ribbing but it seems only on straight needles. it's looking good! I am relieved because I was starting to be convinced I couldn't do it. I don't know why I can't do ribbing on circular needles. It's looks awful! I forgot to say a couple of things in my last post about the yarn. It has a rustic look and feel to it. I asked Hannah to smell the yarn adn she said it smelled like animals. I can't smell it. But lots of people who knit with this yarn love the sheepy smell to it. I think it fades after you wash it. The yarn is also undyed, so it comes right off the sheep with a minimum of processing. The color is a creamy light beige. It's quite nice. I am glad I was able to buy some. I think I will love my mittens.

I have been going through a knitting slump because I have so many projects going and nothing is getting finished. I hope these mittens will give me the motivation I need to keep tackling my projects. I love this yarn. Ok, back to ribbing, I have at least 3 inches to do.

Oh, if you would like to read a review on this yarn click on the link.


Needless to say I am in love with this yarn and dreaming of a sweater in it...after I figure out how to get $16.00 x 8-10 balls or more of the stuff!

Mitten maddness

Ok, take 2: I was writing this post when I hit a key a froze the screen and had to restart the computer and lost what I had written. Anyway, I decided last week I wanted to knit myself a pair of mittens. But I wanted mittens I could shovel snow in and get wet. I bought a very very nice well made pair of alpaca mittens in October at the sheep and wool festival. I do not want my alpaca mittens to get wet or felt or anything. They are the warmest mittens I have so far. So as we are in a small heat wave of 35-40 degrees for a few days, I wanted to get a jump on knitting mittens before the next snowfall comes.

My yarn store had a sale today on yarn I wanted. I wanted Rowan Purelife yarn. This is special yarn. The wool is from British sheep thus the British yarn! My skeins have Shetland Moorit, Masham and Suffolf sheep fleeces in it. I have not heard of any of these breeds before. The yarn is not baby soft but for a pair of rustic feltable mittens they are perfect. I want to let nature felt the mittens naturally. I could do it myself but I'm to lazy. I read somewhere that mittens that are felted are water resistant and warm. We shall see.

I made 1 practice mitten awile ago with Red Heart yarn and liked how it came out except for my crappy knitting. I decided to go rogue and try and adjust the pattern for the thicker yarn. I decided to not change anything. I used worsted weight for my practice mitten and this is the next step up in thickness. I figured the extra thickness would reduce or eliminate the bagginess and looseness my practice mitten had.

The problem is I wanted to use 2 circualr needles. I do not have 2 in size 5. So I decided to try and knit them on straight needles. The pattern calls for it to be knit on circular needles. We will see if it will work. I should know soon if it will. Why does knitting have to be so difficult? They are just mittens. I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ribbing frustrations

I started reIknitting Joel's hat on 2 circular needles. When i made the hat the first time my ribbing partially looked liked ribbing. This time not at all! One half looks like sideways garter stitch and the other half looks like a jumbled mess! What am I doing wrong!!!??? I know how to make the knit stitch and the purl stitch. I put the yarn in front for purling and in the back for knitting. I am seriously consdering ripping it out and trying it on straight needles. I will have to buy a pair since I don't have a pair of size 5's. Well, actually I do but they are metal and I prefer to not use them unless I have to. If that doesn't work, I will either give up or try to find a pattern that doesn't have ribbing in it. The first hat I did on size 7's, this hat I am trying size 5's. I am beyond frustrated. How can something so simple be so hard? I may have to break down and take a class on how to knit a hat or rather how to do ribbing with knitting a hat as a bonus. My hat pattern works-I knit the hat I just can't do ribbing!