Saturday, January 22, 2011

Charts - UGH!

So, I started knitting this wonderful new vest called Cloud Chaser... lots of cables (which I love!) and complexity.  

Cloud Chaser Vest Pattern

Up until now I've always just followed the pattern by reading the directions.  But this particular pattern has two repeating cable patterns up the back and the patterns don't repeat at the same time.  I started knitting from the directions and using the little chart on the pattern but quickly realized that I would get lost fast if I kept this up.

No problem, I'll create a spreadsheet.  Right!

Hmmm...  first conundrum, do I create it right to left (which is the way you knit) or left to right?  My first inclination was right to left but I thought I'd check with Pam who said it was just the opposite.  And since she had actually done research (really?) to verify that was the correct way, I decided to go with it.

In making the spreadsheet there are a lot of decisions to make.  Like, which little symbols do you want to use for each stitch?  Since I'm creative by nature I decided that maybe little @'s would look cute or ~'s but it quickly became clear that if I wanted to keep my eyesight in tact, I should keep it simple.  So I settled for blank spaces and X's.  Boring but much easier on these old eyes.

You also need to try to keep the width of the pattern on one page if at all possible and if your rows are 98 stitches, that can pose a bit of a challenge!  So I just kept squishing and squishing and squishing until they all fit!  8.5x11 paper was completely out of the question (the whole eye site thing again) so I went with 8.5x14.  It's amazing what a difference 3" can make.  ;-)

Symbols and spacing determined, it was time to fill it all in which was much easier than I had anticipated.  It's a good thing too because I forgot to save periodically (I know better than that), my spreadsheet froze up and I lost a good bit of my work!  No problem, at this point it's just copy-paste-copy-paste-copy-paste...  but how many times?  How may rows?  Pattern says 18 inches...  that means MATH.  So, 30 rows = 4 inches; 30 rows/4 = 7.5 stitches per inch; 7.5 x 18 inches = 135 rows.  Right?

And that's just the back!!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lessons Learned (Or Stuff I Shouldn't Do Again But Probably Will)

Although I've been knitting for about 5 years, I've only been really serious about it the last 2 or so.  The first 3 years were spent making scarves for EVERYONE! Whether you wanted one or not, you got a scarf for Christmas and I want to thank you all for pretending like you liked them. 

So, here are just a few things I've learned...

1.  Lifelines...  Should be used when knitting an item with a complicated pattern.  I learned this in the sock class I took a couple of years ago.  Do they work?  Absolutely!  Do I ever remember to use them?  Never!

2.  Purchasing Yarn...  You should always have a pattern in mind and know the yarn requirements when purchasing yarn so you'll be sure to buy enough.  This is Pam's motto and I wouldn't be surprised if she has it mounted above the door of her den, which is where she keeps her 'shelf' of yarn and knitting tools. Seriously...  she's been knitting for about 2 years now and has everything on one shelf in her den.  Why?  Because she only buys enough yarn for the pattern she's making.  Me?  I have a whole freakin' room with  shelves, baskets & bins overflowing with yarn and 'stuff'.  Why?  Because I can't resist a beautiful skein of yarn and simply buy willy-nilly without having a clue what I'm going to do with it.

3.  Bleach vs Wool...  Let's say you knitted a beautiful flower out of white wool and decided that the petals would  look better felted.  And let's just say that you didn't think about the colorfastness of the blue blanket that you threw in with it. And perhaps as a result your beautiful white flowers came out of the washer with a bit of a blue tint to them...  my advice...  learn to live with blue flowers. DO NOT, under any circumstances, try to bleach the blue out.  The bleach will also take out the beautiful white and leave you with brown flowers and you will have to start all over two days before Christmas, frantically knitting white flowers to go on your daughter-in-law's felted bag.  Don't ask me how I know.  ;-)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Knitting is my life!!!

Not really...  not even close.  But since this is a knitting blog I figured my first title should make a statement that would grab the reader's attention and make them want to read on to see just who this Knitting Knut is!

I'm a 52 year old woman who works in corporate America and desperately needs a creative outlet in my life.  I've gone through various phases... macrame & crocheting in the 70s, plastercraft & counted cross stitch in the 80s, gardening in the 90s and in the last decade I've dabbled in photography, and scrapbooking.  But I don't think that I've ever had the passion for any of the others that I do for yarn & knitting.  It really has become an obsession for me. I knit everywhere I go and there's always a small project in my purse.

I've been knitting for about 5 years and started as most of us do (except my friend Pam) making scarves.  I made HUNDREDS of scarves out of all kinds of fuzzy & fluffy yarns.  They were fun to make and fun to give as gifts (hopefully they were fun to receive too!) but it got old after awhile and I came to the point where I felt like I had mastered the basic and it was time to move on.  So I took a sock class and it was all over...  I was hooked!

In the last year I've not only made socks, but I've also learned how to felt and made several awesome bags.  I also made my first sweater (more like a coat though) and it turned out amazingly well even if I do say so myself!

I'm so energized by these successes that I thought it might be fun to blog about knitting.  Since I'm still somewhat of a novice and learning new things every day I can to keep track of my successes as a reminder of the progress I'm making, and screw-ups to remind me what not to do again.

So here it is...  my first blog ever!