Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bootie v. Bootie v. Bootie

At the age of 26, I'm squarely in the middle of the 'marriage phase' of life--every summer sees another few of my friends tying the knot--so it is only a matter of time before the 'baby phase' arrives. My good friend J got to herald it in when she announced her pregnancy to me a few weeks ago. All I could think was, 'let the baby knitting begin'!

As my friend does not know the gender of the child yet, I thought I would whip up a few different pair of booties to get a head start on the inevitable onslaught. I picked the three most popular baby bootie patterns on Ravelry, and am comparing and contrasting them here for your benefit.

Constructed from the sole up using fingering-weight yarn on US size 2 needles. Sized for a newbown.

Special Techniques
kfb, k2tog, ssk, m1, long tail cast on.

Free pattern.
Pattern looks great for all types of yarn, including variegated.
Worked flat, so there is no purling.

Finishing requires lots of sewing, including sewing up the bottom and back.
Button holes not knitted, but created from a loop of yarn sewn to the fabric.
Buttons need to be sewn on.

Constructed from the sole up using fingering-weight yarn on US size 1 needles. Sized for a newborn.

Special Techniques
kfb, k2tog, ssk, pick up and knit.

Free pattern.
Pattern looks great for all types of yarn, including variegated.
Seemless construction, so no sewing things together at the end.
No blocking necessary.

I found a size 1 needle to be too small to knit with comfortably.

Constructed from the top down using fingering-weight yarn on US size 2.5 needles (I used US size 2 without a problem). Three sizes available.

Special Techniques
I-cord, pick up and knit/purl, yo, k2tog, cast on at the end of a row, kitchner stitch.

Available in multiple sizes.
Seemless construction, so no sewing things together at the end.

Pattern costs £2.
Buttons need to be sewn on.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An Ode To Handspun

Dusty wheel,
I spin again,
Wool to yarn,
Like prose from pen,
At first ‘tis rough,
To find the phrase,
Yet flowing soon,
With wit and ease,

A plot with twists,
This trade I ply,
And soon the page,
Is inked with dye,
And now admire,
This beauteous skein,
The tale I’ve spun,
My heart contains.

(100% Falkland wool, dyed in the colorway Napa Valley by Yarn Hollow. Spun into 200 yards of sport weight yarn.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Franklin Habit

I forgot to mention this in December, but I attended my first Madison Knitter's Guild Meeting last month. I don't have enough free time and money, being a grad student, to become a regular member, but it was still interesting to attend the meeting.

There were a lot of knitters there. I'm not sure if that is normal or they all came to see the speaker Franklin Habit. If you've never heard of Franklin, stop reading this right now and go check out his blog. Seriously, go! I'll wait...

...Back now? Entertained? Good! I've heard Franklin described as the funniest man in knitting (which he thinks is like the honor of being the tallest building in Deleuth). His talk definitely lived up to my expectations and I even learned a few things about historical knitting.

Since I was at the meeting with my friend, we could not resist snapping a photo of us with Franklin. Overall, it was an enjoyable evening and I will now be using the phrase, 'a pain in the kazoo', in my daily vocabulary.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I'm going to do a little aside today and evangelize the process of blocking. Blocking may sound complicate, but it's really the process of:

* soaking your knitting
* gently (!) squeezing out most of the water
* laying the piece out in the desired shape and size
* letting it air dry to set

This sequence of steps will even up your stitches and ensure that your garment is the correct size. Blocking is a vital finishing step for sweaters and lace, and can make a big difference in the finish of many other types of knitwear.

Don't be put off by my crazy photo above. Blocking is usually very simple, requiring nothing but a free portion of carpet. Besides the steps given above, here are a few tips for blocking:

* Most knitted items can simply be laid flat on the floor and left to dry.
* For sweaters, the important thing is to gently (!) coax the sweater to the desired size measurements before drying.
* Lace is perhaps the most complicated item to block. I like to use pins to really stretch the lace pattern to its limits while it dries.
* Blocking works best for non-synthetic yarns, such as wool, alpaca, and cotton.

You can see the effect of blocking on lace and stockinette in these before and after photos of my Veyla Mitts:

By stretching the lace section during the drying process, the you end up with a pattern that really pops. You can also see how my stitches in the stockinette section look more even after the blocking process. All of these changes are now set in the fabric until I wash it again, at which point I would need to reblock these mitts.

So I encourage you to give blocking a try, especially if you've never done it before. I'm sure that you will be pleased with the results!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Happy New Year!

As I do every year at this time, I start thinking about my New Year's resolutions. I have a big one for my life this year: Finish grad school. It does not have a lot to do with knitting, other than it will probably steal lots of knitting time from me over the coming months.

Since that one is such a big life resolution, I'm going to pick a simpler knitting resolution this year: Knit from stash. My Ravelry pal Elizabath calls this Negative Stash Flow, as more yarn should go out than come in. I did a rough estimate of my stash and found that I have over 6 miles of yarn at home! That should be plenty of yarn to knit with over the coming year.

And with inspirational goals comes an inspirational photo, one that I took over the break of the outside of the Ohio Supreme Court Building. These fabulous Art Deco owls represent education, which, along with science and art, forms the basis of a prosperous society. It's a good reminder for me to strive to complete my education, but still maintain the habits and traits that make me unique.