The Panda Owl

The Panda Owl

Thursday, May 24, 2012

See You Later, Alligator!

My husband and I were visiting his aunt who lives in southern Florida. Aunt S heard that I had been doing a ton of knitting and took me to her local yarn store, The Yarn Lady. I was flipping through pattern binders looking for inspiration and came across a scarf that quite literally looked like an alligator. Typically, this would have been a bit kitschy for my taste, but maybe the Florida sun or ridiculously delicious citrus got to my head because I was suddenly gripped by the spirit of Cruella de Vil. Isn't it just hilarious to wear an alligator around your neck? A freaking alligator?!

I probably wouldn't mind finding this little guy in my backyard

Who could say no to a face like this?

The techniques in the pattern weren't complicated, but the scarf did take some time to knit because of the length. Additionally, I made it longer than the suggested length because I wanted to be able to wrap it all the way around my neck. The LYS didn't stock the yarn recommended in the pattern so I used one of my favorites, Cascade 220 Heathers, instead. The slightly variegated yarn color (dark green and golden yellow) along with the bumps really made the scarf oh so “snappy.”

Bumpy, green, and glorious

Yes, I actually wear this in public. And yes, I actually think I look cool ;-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Turning Work When Knitting With Double Pointed Needles (aka The Cookie Monster Mitts Project)

My hands tend to get cold, so I decided to make something cozy and fun to keep them warm. I found a pattern for simple ribbed wristlets and started knitting. Things were going swimmingly until I came across instructions to "turn work and start working back and forth." I was a bit stumped about this – I understood what it meant to "turn work" when using straight needles, but I didn't understand how to apply that to knitting in the round with dpns.

After some needle aerobics and tangled yarn, I finally figured it out. When you reach the end of a round, the working yarn (yarn attached to the ball) is on the needle in your right hand. If you wanted to continue knitting in the round, you would pick up the empty dpn with your right hand (let go of the needle with the working yarn first), use the empty dpn to knit into the first stitch on the needle in your left hand, pulling the working yarn from the needle on your right side around the empty dpn tightly.

When you are instructed to turn your work, you do things differently:

A) Take the needle in your right hand (the needle with the working yarn) and switch it to your left hand.
B) Orient this needle so the working yarn is hanging off the right end of the needle.
C) Place the empty dpn in your right hand.

Stop and think for a moment – doesn't this scenario look and feel familiar? It should because you are basically in the same position when start a new row on straight needles!

D) Use the empty dpn in your right hand to knit into the first stitch on the needle in your left hand, pulling the working yarn from the needle in your left hand around the empty dpn tightly. Continue knitting.

When you get to the end of the round, repeat steps A thru D for as many rounds as the pattern specifies.

When you knit in the round on dpns, you are creating a tube. When you turn your work on dpns, you will be effectively creating a rectangle just like if you were knitting on straight needles. If you knit in the round, then turn your work and knit for a few rounds, then continue knitting in the round, you will create a vertical slit in the tube (perfect, say for a thumb to poke through).

I finished the wristlets and proudly showed them off to my husband, who started laughing and declared that they should be named Cookie Monster Mitts because the color and slight fuzziness of the knitted yarn reminded him of a certain blue, furry cookie-loving monster. I had to agree, but I think in the right context, they look cool and edgy instead of comical. Wouldn't you agree?

C is for Cookie, that's good enough for me! K is for Knitting, as fun as it can be! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Knitting and Crochet Tools – Do You Remember What You Already Own?

We have all been in this situation before. You unexpectedly run across some used knitting needles at a thrift shop or garage sale. Or, you happen to be at Jo-Ann, Michaels, or your LYS and they are having a mega sale. What a great time to pick up some knitting tools for cheap! Your internal dialogue goes something like this... “I should get some size 6 needles because I don't have any...I think. Or did I not have size 7s? And I know I need size 8 circulars for that cool sweater project, but what length did the pattern call for? 24 inches? 32 inches? fiddlesticks!!!”

Once you start knitting in earnest, you typically build up a large collection of needles. Keeping track of them in your head is an impossible task. It's especially frustrating if you are confronted with a fabulous opportunity like one of the scenarios described above, but don't remember what you already own. Fortunately, help is here! Last weekend, I found some cheap used knitting needles at the Alameda Pointe Antiques Faire and Urban Ore. Key to the happy ending in my story was that I had downloaded the Android app Knitting Stash on my phone and used it to document all my knitting needles and crochet hooks. The app allows you to record the sizes (US and metric), type (straight, double pointed, circular), and length of your needles amongst other attributes. All the information is stored on your phone for easy access. There is also functionality to create row counters and record your current projects (haven't used this stuff much yet, but they seem useful). Instead of being stymied, I knew exactly which needles I didn't have and walked away with several pairs to round out my collection for only $2. Not too shabby!

You can read more about the app on Google Play's web page for Knitting Stash. See below for a screen print of the app I got from Google Play.

The solution to knitting needle and crochet hook augmentation anxiety!