Category Archives: Knitting

Knitting: The Second Round

A cold, rainy winter provided all the inspiration I needed to get out my knitting needles.

I stopped knitting for awhile after I had problems with my hands and was diagnosed with carpel tunnel syndrome in January 2011.  Gradually, I began knitting again but only garter stitch strips.  I was concentrating on learning to sew, and my creative energies were elsewhere.  Maybe I didn’t want to be too interested in something I was trying to avoid doing.

Now I want to add knitting back into the mix. I am inspired anew, and thinking about what I would like to make.

To start the year, I knitted a cowl completing  #6 on my “Make Nine List” to hand knit an accessory.

It was knit in garter stitch in navy, gray, and off white with random stripes and then seamed to form the join.

When I was cleaning out a closet I found a foot of a scarf with the needles removed and the stitches saved intact on a length of waste yarn.  I estimate I started it about 10 years ago! I was able to find the pattern, the Dayflower Lace Scarf, put it back on the needles and count to find the row I should start on.  I finished this scarf too.

I wrote out the lace pattern on an index card, and then used a paper clip to keep track of the row I was working on.

I have three reasons for wanting to continue to knit.

The process of knitting itself:

I want the soothing rhythm of creating with just my circular needles, to experience the yarn, watch the fabric I’m making, and to play with colors and patterns.  Some of the techniques I haven’t done that interest me are gradient color changes, an Icelandic circular yoke with a color design, and double knitting.

To use my stash:

Knitting can be a bit expensive as compared to sewing. Nice yarn can cost between $50 and $120 for a sweater’s worth.  I already have yarn for at least 4 sweaters, so I would be knitting for “free”.

To have some sweaters and accessories to wear:

hand knitted socks and dog sweater worn this winter

After enjoying the process of knitting, I’ll have some pretty and unique things to put on when the weather turns cold.

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The following is my account of my experience with carpal tunnel syndrome:

I used to be a daily knitter. My hand symptoms started when I had trouble turning off my alarm clock in the mornings because my hands had gone numb.  Then my numb hands would cause me to wake up at night.  When these symptoms progressed to the point that I was waking up several times a night, and the numbness was also continuing into the daytime I became concerned and went to the doctor.

I was given these gloves to wear.

I removed the metal insert from one glove to show the curved shape. The metal keeps the wrist from bending and provides support. I wore them every night and stopped knitting.  My hands would still go numb when I held the phone for too long or when holding other objects.  Now, for the most part, I only wear the right glove occasionally, usually in the winter, and vary my hand activities.  I also use a computer mouse with my right hand, but I don’t spend nearly as much time on a desktop computer as I did between the years 2000 – 2010. My keyboard and mouse usage could have contributed to my carpal tunnel symptoms. I used to also have forearm pain after many hours of mouse clicking. Remember the ball inside the mouse? My left hand does everything else, and two of my joints have signs of arthritis from wear and tear.

Knitting and other hand crafts can contribute to symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, arthritis, and repetitive stress injuries. My advice is if you experience pain or numbness, don’t ignore your symptoms.  Slow down, consult a doctor, and make modifications as needed.

Have you experienced hand, wrist, or arm pain or injuries from crafting? Did you make changes as a result?

 

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A Look Back and Make Nine 2019

First a look back at 2018:

I completed 5 items from my 2018 Make Nine List: summer pants, raglan tee, embroidered kitchen towels, refashion from stash (3 refashions), and Christmas sewing.

Embroidered blouse, crochet yoke tee, basket quilt with (previously) embroidered center, and collared button shirt were not finished (or started).  Will anything carry over?  Let’s see.

The Make Nine Challenge was started by Lucky Lucille, and the photo collages are popular on Instagram.

Last year my make nine was just nine hand written notes. This year I am being less vague, and I’m showing either the pattern or fabric I will be using.

2019 Make Nine

  1. Embroidered Blouse – Using the Folkwear pattern “Old Mexico Dress”, the yoke will be hand embroidered.
  2. Crochet yoke tee – with the pictured crochet thread.
  3. Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull on Jeans –  for comfort and because they have real pockets.  I was planning on using a stretch denim I already had but didn’t have enough fabric.
  4. Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top –  I don’t have the fabric yet.
  5. Autumn Twilight Cross Stitch Picture – I have never stitched a full size picture for framing before and I like this flying geese scene.  This is a kit with 16 count aida.  It will be challenging, but it’s doable.
  6. Hand knit accessory –   a scarf knitted with the pictured navy and gray yarn.
  7. Stretch Denim Shorts – this is the fabric I wanted to make the pants with.  I might use the same pattern for the shorts.
  8. Knit Fabric Dress – I could use a basic dress, and notice I have never liked wearing traditional dresses with zippers.  I’m not sure if I will use a pattern, or just make an elongated tee.
  9. Spring Jacket – McCalls 7333 –  I am planning to use a linen blend fabric I already have.

The list contains a variety of most everything I know how to do: sewing, freehand embroidery, cross stitch, knitting, and crochet.  So much creativity – at least in my mind and on paper, ha!

I have actually started 3 of these projects already!  I love making lists, do you?

Casting on for a Blanket

The needles were all packed away on a high shelf in the closet. The yarn had been displaced to make room for fabric.

This winter, rainy days and nights made me wish I had something on the needles to pick up and knit.  My hands found varied uses during my knitting hiatus and rested from too much repetitive motion.  The numbness in my fingers had subsided and I had stopped wearing my hand braces at night.  In truth, I think I had gotten burned out on knitting, and needed a break anyhow.

I saw a garter stitch blanket that I wanted to cast on for right away: Caron Essential Stripes Knit Blanket.  It was the perfect combination of comfort knitting with just enough interesting aspects with the use of three colors, striping, and color blocks. I like that it is knit in five panels.  There won’t be much sewing up to do, and the weight of a big heavy mound on the needles with long rows to get through is avoided.

Which yarn to use and which colors?  I swatched with a few different acrylics and read reviews on yarns.  Some of the negatives I read about were yarns described as scratchy, splitty, and squeaky. Sounds like a cartoon trio of mice!  Another thing to avoid is an acrylic that is “plasticky”.

Why acrylic?  I want a blanket that is easy care, machine washable,  durable, and low cost.

I have never had a yarn squeak, but I did discover some differences in yarns.  Take a look at these two samples:

2 acrylic yarns: top Red Heart Soft, bottom Loops and Thread Impeccable

I have a definite preference in the appearance of the two yarns.  I much prefer the bottom yarn that is matte to the shiny one.  The Impeccable has more heft, looks cottony and reminds me of marshmallows.  It’s also more sturdy and less stretchy.

Besides individual preferences, choosing a yarn depends on whether it will be knitted or crocheted and what will be made from it.  If I were making something to wear, I would be more concerned with drape.  The colors and shades of a color a yarn is made in is also an important consideration.

The pattern was written for Caron One Pound, and the blanket looks very appealing in the pictured colors in the beautifully staged room.  They didn’t have those colors in the store, and I wanted to swatch before deciding on my colors.  I did buy one skein of the One Pound to swatch, and it is also matte, although a little stiffer than the other yarn I knitted up.  It would also be a good choice for a blanket that will hold up through frequent washing.

So for this blanket, Impeccable it is!  After much waffling, I settled on the aran, navy, and soft rose combination.

There wasn’t a photo of the entire blanket, so to see how the sections would look together I mapped it out using my old Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet that I still have installed.  I played around with it and made some changes.  By reading the pattern more closely I also realized that the panels are meant to be laid horizontally (widthwise) with the ridges going vertically.

knitting on size 9 Susan Bates circular quicksilver needles

I’m not on a tear to finish this.  I just love that it’s there waiting to pick up when I want to knit.

Have you left and then gone back to a craft years later?

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Learning to Knit Booklets: Vintage Style

Let’s start with the oldest one from my collection.  It doesn’t have a date on it, but I am guessing it dates from the 1950s or early 1960s.  It features a cute cover, illustrations of a prettily dressed young miss, and a cartoon format to the instructions.

fun way to learn knitting booklet 1950sgirl learning to knit in cartoon form vintage booklet

 

The back cover shows a few simple projects.

back cover of fun way to learn knitting booklet

 

Wait a minute – what is that?  A creepy face on the back of her kerchief!

knitting weirdness - vintage face kerchief

What was the designer thinking?  Well, we need some kind of embellishment to make the hood appeal to the younger set, and what girl wouldn’t want eyes on the back of her head.

I first learned to knit and crochet in 1973 or 1974, and I still have the little booklet from the class.  Those faces on the yarn are  actually cute.

I don't know how to knit or crochet 70s

One of the projects:

1970s owl crochet top

Owls were very popular in the 70s, but I’m thinking maybe that’s not the best placement for the owl eyes.

The Gitche Gumee Headband is another groovy design from the same booklet, although it’s neither knit nor crocheted.

70s headband

 

I  also have a few early 1970s copies of a knitting and crochet magazine called 101 Sweaters.  Seventies fashion wasn’t just ponchos –  although the hairstyles and makeup are dated, many of the patterns hold up well.

101 Sweater Magazine

 

 

The magazines also have a section for men’s patterns:

1972 photo of knitting patterns for men from 101 Sweaters magazine

The guys on the left are cool, but could the guys on the right be any more dorky in those outlandish sweaters?

That wraps up a look at the good, the bad, the ugly, and the weird knitted and crocheted patterns and fashions of yesteryear. Do you like to collect old patterns or make things from them?

 

 

Something About Knitting

folded chevron towelI recently finished reading the book “The Knitting Circle” by Ann Hood.  All of the characters in the book have dramatic stories of loss and grief.  The main character, Mary, is struggling to get through her days after the sudden death of her five year old daughter, which is the same tragedy the author experienced and which provided the inspiration for the book.

When Mary can barely function, and can’t concentrate to read, write, or work, her mother suggests that she take up knitting.  She tells her daughter, “There’s something about knitting.  You have to concentrate, but not really.  Your hands keep moving and moving and somehow it calms your brain”.  When Mary joins a knitting circle, a fellow knitter tells her she will finish her scarf in a couple of days: “That’s how it is at first.  You knit to save your life”.

For several years, I was a daily knitter. Some of the virtues of knitting are the portability, and creating useful items while working with beautiful yarns.  As I get older, I especially appreciate that unlike other crafts and needle arts, neither good lighting nor good eyesight is at all necessary to knit.

After reading this book I asked myself if I took up knitting “to save my life”.  While I can’t make such a dramatic claim, when I think back I do remember that it was a time of anxiety for me.  My mother, who I had taken care of, had passed away, and I was changing my life, taking classes, and ultimately looking for a new job.  During these years, I took my knitting with me to hospital and doctor office waiting rooms, as well as in social situations.   Knitting very well could have been a type of therapy – meditative, soothing and rhythmic, using hands and mind together in harmony.  Crocheting, the sister yarn art to knitting, provides a similar experience. One of the things I like about knitting is that you work the stitches as you come to them, passing the stitches from one needle to the other, while in crochet you have to see where to put the hook.

I’ve knitted sweaters, hats, and scarves, but living in Southern California, even during some winters (like the current one with temperatures in the 70s and 80s) I don’t need those warm, cozy items.  So one thing I enjoyed knitting was dishcloths – small projects on which I could try different patterns and techniques.

Dishcloths VarietyAmong those pictured are the basic and popular grandmother’s favorite dishcloth, ballband dishcloth, and the chinese waves dishcloth.

I knit the pretty doily style dishcloth from the inside out on two circular needles.

doily style dishcloth

And I loved knitting the slip stitch pattern of the linoleum dishcloth.

Linoleum DishclothWhile I enjoyed the process of knitting dishcloths, I don’t use them to wash dishes.  I decided to knit bigger versions to use as my kitchen towel on the oven handle.

I took out my circular needles to knit up the soft cotton knit dishcloth from The Purl Bee.

Knitted Striped Towel I loved the simplicity of knitting simple garter stitch with the added element of stripes.  For the second towel I used the chevron stripe pattern found in this baby blanket.  The two row pattern uses a multiple of 14 plus 2 stitches.

Chevron Dishcloth Side B

For those who knit, what do you like about it and what places have you taken your knitting?  Has knitting, or another needle art or craft, “saved you” from a hard time in your life, or helped you through a situation?

 

A Bold Cable to Knit

I used to knit every day.  When my hands went numb I decided it was time to mix it up and branch out.  Winter coldness made me get out my needles again for this useful accessory.  It’s the free Uno Cable Headband from Ravelry.

So I got out my favorite circular needles and the little cable needle.  I was a little rusty and had to look up how to do the make 1 increase.

My sides are not identical.  I slipped the first stitch as if to purl on both sides as the directions didn’t specify.  I love the way the cable pops out from the garter stitch background.  The eight stitch cable crosses every ten rows.  I omitted 2 stitches from each side. It was simple and fast to knit.

uno1c

I’m pretending to read, but I’m really just thinking-  is the cable showing…when is the camera going off…

It’s just what I need to keep my ears warm when I walk my dog.