Knitting with restraint

This spring I wrote about how my wrist was hurting, partly due to incorrect keyboard usage, but mostly due to binge knitting.

I completely abstained for over a week (knitting not keyboard) and then came back to it for smaller lengths of time. It’s hard to binge knit the way I did pre-parenthood anyway, but every once in a while I get an opportunity and then I really have to exercise restraint, else I spend the whole next day rubbing my wrists (note: to the commenter who suggested wrist wraps, thank you! Wearing one at night really does help after a day of overdoing it).

I’ve started using Instagram more, and a lot of my feed is made up of semi-professional and serious-hobbyist knitters. I have moments of intense jealousy in seeing how prolific they’re able to be, even though I know knitting through the wrist pain is a bad idea. I try to think of my Dad, who for the past four decades has gone on the same mile jog every morning. Through his 20s and 30s I’m pretty sure he had friends who thought it was silly to run just one mile every morning. They were training for marathons and half marathons, logging ten times the weekly miles. But one by one, most of them had to stop running completely due to bad knees, bad ankles, bad shin splints. And there’s my Dad, still lacing up his shoes at 5:30am every morning for his daily jog.

So, in the interest of similarly being able to keep my hobby going for the next four decades, here’s what six months of slightly scaled back knitting looks like…

Waiting for Rain ShawlI worked hard to learn continental knitting for my Waiting for Rain Shawl, and it really did help me get through big swaths of garter stitch without much soreness. The pattern is so pretty…I knit additional rows so there wouldn’t be any leftovers of the Mirasol Nuna Fina, and then tried picot bind off for the first time.

Then I used some Two If By Hand Targhee Superwash, lovingly spun and gifted to me by Christine, to knit another Purl Soho Garter Ear Flap Hat for L. This one is sized to fit her next winter. This is now officially my go-to baby and kid hat.

Garter stitch hat, purl sohoMy coworker is due with her first baby late this summer, and for the baby shower I made her an Elizabeth Zimmerman February Baby sweater in Madelinetosh DK. The sweater calls for a lace body, but I’d been inspired by this knitter’s version to sub in ribbing. As she noted, it does pull the arms and body inward, which bells out the sleeves and hem. But some of that came out with blocking, and what was leftover just gives it a bit of a swingy shape.

EZ baby sweater on two needles

And finally, there was enough Targhee left over that I thought I could get a cardigan out of it for L. I’m going to tinker a little more with the pattern and then try to write it up.

I bribed L into modeling it for a handful of Craisins.

Toddler Sweater

Toddler Sweater

 

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Yukon ho!

It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and although my office is closed, daycare is not…at least not until 1pm. I dropped off baby L and am enjoying some coffee-and-computer-in-pajamas time. Using the laptop anywhere near baby is impossible right now as it leads to shrieking, grabbing, pressing of all the keys, and tantrums. So I’m really basking in the luxury here.

I finished up edits on the pattern, which I’m calling Yukon ho! in honor of my favorite cartoon strip, Calvin & Hobbes.

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Baby L loves the outdoors, but after a year in Mexico we’re coming up on her first real winter. Most of the baby mittens I’ve seen in stores are cute but sorta flimsy, so I designed a pair that were truly adventure-worthy. The extra long cuff ensures they stay put. Every time I take them off after a long stroller ride, her hands are super toasty.

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From now until the end of Thanksgiving weekend, Yukon ho! is 50% in the ravelry shop. It comes in three sizes – newborn, baby, and toddler – and is a great way to use up partial skeins you’ve stashed.

Ready for a little holiday knitting?

I’m working on finishing touches for a pattern…hoping to get it out in time for post-Turkey relaxation knitting.

It’s a quick pair of lined baby mittens, knit all in one piece, perfect for holiday gift-giving and personal stash-busting. I’ve made a half dozen prototypes and passed them out to friends, who report that the mittens are super warm and don’t fall off. YEAH!
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Learning to knit without the garter-stitch scarf

Four years ago I made my first design contribution to ravelry – a free hat pattern called Kami. Almost 600 of them have been knit!

Someone commented that she used the pattern to teach a friend to knit:Screen shot 2015-10-17 at 9.18.33 AM

Hats aren’t often used to teach people to knit, but I think they should be. That’s because a hat is – most importantly – not a scarf. Ugh. It is unclear to me how garter-stitch scarves earned their spot as the ubiquitous learn-to-knit project. In my experience, here’s what’s wrong with them:

1. They completely ignoring purling, inevitably leading to another generation of knitters who claim that “knitting is way easier than purling.” It is, if knitting is all a beginner practices for an entire scarf.

2. They are usually knit on straight needles. I prefer teaching on circular needles, which are easier to hold and maneuver. The weight of the piece is evenly distributed on the needle, which puts less of a strain on the wrists.

3. They take forever. I warn beginners that knitting has a pretty long improvement curve. That means that you have to suffer through it feeling awkward and slow for quite a while. I know people who have been “working on their first scarf” for multiple years, or who just never finish. It’s too much work for too long without having a finished object to show for it.

i plan to half knit quite a bit this winter

4. They announce, “I knit this.” Which is alright, but most people get into knitting to make things that look handmade, not homemade.

5. They don’t require a pattern or a gauge swatch. This seems like a plus, since it takes some of the fussiness out of the process. But if someone’s goal is to eventually move out of scarf-land (i.e. sweaters, mittens, hats), they’ll need to learn gauge and pattern-reading eventually, and I’ve found that beginners are okay with both as long as it’s not complicated. Plus, knitting a gauge swatch is the perfect practice run before launching into the project.

Wow. I just hated on garter-stitch scarves a LOT. I owe them something of a thank-you, to be fair, since that’s exactly what my first project was. But I also clearly remember the first FO that I was proud of, and it was not a scarf. It was a pair of fingerless mitts that used short rows, which I spent days attempting and ripping out. In the end my pride was misplaced, since I hadn’t realized that 100% cotton would lack the sort of stretch you’d want in fingerless mitts.

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Am I the only one with a strong hatred for garter-stitch scarves? What pattern did you learn to knit with? What pattern(s) do you use to teach others?

Here are a few patterns that I’ve used when teaching:

Wurm Hat (photo (c) verabee)

Drop-Stitch Cowl – © Abi Gregorio

Calorimetry ear-warmer – © Kathryn Schoendorf

I’ll never make this sweater again

And that’s not because I don’t like it, but because it required so much tinkering, frogging, and reknitting that I lost track of the edits. This was the most INFURIATING pattern. Simultaneously a work of origami-genius and a huge hot mess. My biggest complaint was that there’s no measurements schematic, and as someone who hardly ever gets the required gauge I rely on the schematics to make size adjustments. I recall that I down-sized the needle, widened the sleeve openings, and lengthened it considerably (it looks long on the pattern picture but knit up like a crop top). Oh, and I took the advice of others and knit the entire garter strip and then grafted it to the other front piece in stockinette (versus grafting the two garter halves).

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When I finally cast-off I couldn’t stand looking at the thing and it sat in a suitcase for a few months. The pattern was covered in undecipherable numbers, calculations, and notes. I threw it out.

UntitledYesterday I felt ready to face the music. And much to my surprise, I don’t hate the finished sweater. I think I like it in fact. If I wear a thin white shirt underneath I think it could transition to the office…yes? Otherwise it’s a good summer shirt on its own. Here’s a ravelry link.

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A little more yarn, a little less fiber

Still plugging away at the bags of spinning fiber. I miss the old couch+movie setup that always complimented spinning so well. Have I complained enough about these apartment futons yet? Or the slow and erratic internet?

Obviously I just need to figure out a new entertainment setup. Podcasts, perhaps. My favorite is Judge John Hodgman, and then a coworker clued me into Serial, which I binged through in just a few days of bus travel to/from Mexico City. Any other winners I should try?

The yarn with a colorway inspired by the Oregon coast photo is all finished. So pretty. If we have a girl it’ll make a great baby sweater, so I’m just setting it aside while we wait out this last month.
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In the meantime I finished a baby kimono sweater in a more unisex colorway.
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Family visiting for Christmas are scheduled to bring me another stockpile of yarn plus 2 lbs. of Haribo sour grapefruit gummies. Hard to say which I’m more excited about.

Yarn thievery

Yesterday I woke up and reached to the floor for my knitting, only to find it was gone. GONE!

Just inside the open kitchen window I discovered this:
Missing knitting
The burgundy yarn led out the window and onto the balcony, where it trailed down the stairs in a tangle before breaking off. The gray yarn was broken just inches from the wip.

Missing knittingNow who around here likes yarn and jumps in and out of windows?  And where did she stash the yarn balls?? The burgundy still had at least a hundred yards left, and since it’s silk/wool and custom-dyed, there’s no replacement to be had…here or in the states.

I searched the bushes. The alley. Under the cars. Up the stairs and around the rooftop.

Then I knocked on the landlord’s door. Apparently she’d been wondering how and why a ball of burgundy yarn had appeared in her living overnight. Later in the day she knocked and said she’d found this in her shower:
Missing knittingNot surprisingly, Fantasmon isn’t talking.
Missing knitting