Sweater in August

dscf34571.jpgDespite my ravings on about what projects to do in the hot days of summer, last year I took on the task of making a sweater with a very complex cable pattern. This year, I find myself again taking an a sweater, with a less complicated cable pattern to it. Why am I doing this?

Perhaps it is the joy of being able to go outside and knit while the hummingbirds buzz by, or to watch the squirrels cross the telephone wires as they store their nuts for the winter.

Perhaps it is the good, bright light that enables me to see the complicated stitches (instead of waiting til evening to put on a light).

Perhaps it is a change of scenery – outside in the fresh air, instead of inside with the television on. Yes, it can be a pain to take all the pattern pages and cable needle and pen needed to keep track of rows, but once I set up a bag to transport the WIP, and remember to put everything back in, it is easy to take where I want to go.

However, I did make the mistake last year of starting a project without enough of the same dye lot of yarn, and of course when I ordered more, it was a very different shade of turquoise than the one I had started. I still have the completed sweater with it varying shades, tucked away, unsure of what to do with it i.e. perhaps dye the whole thing to even it out.

You would think I would have learned…but sadly what I did was order more yarn last year thinking I would make another of the same complicated pattern.  But then I found a less complicated pattern, still with glorious cables though, and again find myself without enough of the same colour of yarn, this time because the colour has been discontinued all together. My solution? I am making the back purple, and the front and sleeves in mauve. I don’t know how it will turn out – stay tuned.

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Just Say “No” to Christmas in July

DSCF3349Seriously, who need Christmas in July as a yarn crafter? I know retail seems to think it is a good idea, but yarn crafting in summer is different than in the fall or winter, and that is the point!

I can see the idea of getting ahead of handmade Christmas gifts, but I don’t want to be making scarves or hats, or even little Christmas ornaments in July. In a previous blog, I explained about the different projects and yarns one uses when the weather is hot.

It doesn’t matter that ornaments are small items; they still are reminiscent of the winter seasons, and I don’t want to be making them when the summer months go by so fast. The warmer months are a time to try new yarns, try new small projects, or even to take a break from yarn crafting. Some yarn shops close for a holiday. Yarn shipments to stores slow down now.

We should not feel pressured to be thinking about Christmas in July, but instead enjoy the couple of months where we can be outside doing other things, including being inspired by colours and sights we see while out in the sunshine. Maybe we might go out of town and visit a different yarn shop. Maybe we take a small project with us, but please nothing that reminds us of winter!

There is plenty of time to think of gifts in the upcoming cooler months, which is very exciting to yarn crafters.

Yarncraft & TV

Many people like to watch TV while knitting or crocheting. It makes them feel like they are being productive while just sitting and watching.

However, you must be aware of a couple of potential pitfalls.

First of all, if you are watching something really interesting, or gripping, or something you need to pay close attention to, you won’t be paying attention to your work. You may lose track of where you are, and get frustrated having to examine your work over and over. As well, dramas can cause you to tense up your stitches until you can sigh with relief at the conclusion, and return your stitches to your normal tension.

Secondly, beware of watching certain programs that contain a lot of numbers. These numbers will intermix with the numbers {(7 dc, 2 hdc) twice} you are trying to keep track of in your pattern.

The most tricky thing to watch? The news. The weather report – full of “a high today of 20, rain for the next 5 days, low of 10 degrees). The sports -“she had a two stroke lead on round two, and won with a 72, which is three under par”. Just in general, the news has lots of statistics “inflation rate of two percent” or “hundreds lined up for a chance to buy tickets.”

It is definitely hard to think in your pattern, while trying to listen to other numbers and watch what is going on in the world or your city.

If you want to watch TV while you knit or crochet, do something simple that does not require your full attention. Working just back and forth, with a colourful varigated yarn, in a simple stitch can still create wonderful works of art.

If you do choose to do complicated patterns, make sure you keep track of rows, rounds, counts etc. and don’t take it for granted that you will remember. Use paper and pen, stitch markers or any sort of tracking device to make sure you have not wasted your time doing two things at once.DSCF3024

Get Real

I have accumulated various skeins of sock yarn over the years. I admire people who can knit socks, and as much as I’d like to be one of them, my lack of socks indicates they aren’t for me. I find them a lot of work, for not a lot of sock. I’d rather make a blanket and see all my efforts turn into a cozy blanket, than one (and if I’m lucky – 2) socks.

So now I’ve decided to use the sock yarn I have to make a scarf. Stay tuned.DSCF3188

It’s too hot!

I hear people not wanting to learn to knit or crochet during the summer months, so I don’t usually teach then. But while I was out walking the dog in the heat of the morning, I was thinking – it’s too hot to be out here doing this – I’d rather be knitting!

Sometimes it is too hot to do anything too strenuous, and so yarn crafting is the perfect way to spend some time doing something productive.

You can do small projects, like hats, but I especially like small motifs that can later be joined together to make a bigger project. Granny squares are small and portable and don’t take up too much space on your lap (unlike a sweater or blanket). You may want to work on something lacy and open, instead of dense and warm.

Natural fibers, such as cotton and linen also are nice to work with during the summer, or any fine weight yarn. You do not want bulky, cozy yarns now, because if you get sweaty palms, that slows you down while you are trying to create something.

If you are planning to make gifts for the holidays, or attend craft fairs, you need to be thinking about these creations far in advance, or at least go through your stash and plan out what you will need or what you want to make.

Unfortunately, yarn sales are few and far between at this time of year, but you may have scored some bargains at the end of spring when old stock got cleared out.

Summer is a time for doing lots of other activities, but it doesn’t have to mean you can’t still do some knitting or crocheting.

Old Granny “squares”

Over the years, I have started, and completed, many projects. However, I’ve also started, and not finished, many projects, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I would experiment with colour combinations, and my swatch of choice was a granny square. These little gems accumulated over the years, and I had so many, I decided to do a purge and put them together.

I have done purpose-made granny square blankets before. In those projects, the size was consistent, and the colours were carefully selected and coordinated. Joining them would be a pleasure.

This purge-project wasn’t going to be straight forward. Between the various sizes, and various colours I had tried over the years, I had to put a lot of thought into placement.

I started by sorting them into #of rounds. I began in the middle with

 

 

5-round squares, as that is what I had the most of. Then I added larger numbered rounds, and placed them as best I could. Of course, the different sizes didn’t line up, so I had to improvise at the edges and just crochet a few rows in particular areas to square it up.

When crocheting them together, there were seams that didn’t line up, so I just slip-stitched to where the next join was and carried on.

The various colours made for a challenge as well. I had made pastels, brights, weird combinations, lovely combinations. They would all have to get along. I tried to avoid having the same colours beside one another, and tried to have them somewhat pleasing to the eye. Where did this odd-ball come from?

And of course there weren’t really enough squares to make a large enough blanket. I had many many first-rounds, so I took them and added various rounds to make more of 5 or 6 round squares. Here I could choose colours that I needed, and avoid ghastly combinations.

It may not be the prettiest, although it’s not horrid either. It will definitely keep someone toasty warm.

I really enjoyed this challenging project, and because I still have plenty of various squares left, anther blanket is in the works.