Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Yarn with Good Self Esteem

I've been conducting ball-winding experiments lately - homespun alternatives to the official ball-winder I don't have room for even if I thought I'd use it enough. I'd always been perfectly happy as a back-of-the-chair person who knits in smaller quantities until Karen wrote of her new ball-winder and more importantly, posted pictures of the results. Then I began to see the light. I do that whenever Karen does anything.

At the same time I've been reading about the many advantages of knitting from both the outside and inside of the ball, as when casting on to circular needles to avoid a jog. I tried that with yarn that came from the manufacturer in ball form rather thank a skein and it tangled horribly, so I decided to wind a skein specifically for simultaneous use of both ends.

As it happened I was about to cast on for something in the yarn at left, so I did my experiment and got to work. What I discovered: baby alpaca loves itself. It thinks - and rightly so in my opinion - that it is a wonderful, beautiful thing one should be as close to as possible. And that means stretching out its little fibre arms to every other strand in near range and holding on tight.

Last night I spent two hours poring over some serious clump-unraveling and then rewound the yarn in the old tried-and-true way, thinking that maybe a slippery yarn is better for my next adventure in knitting from the inside and out.

Which probably means a new slippery-yarn hat design is on the horizon, heh heh heh. And perhaps an official ball-winder, too.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sensory Delights

A couple of weeks ago I needed needles and had no time to get to my LYS, my only free hours being occupied by a short day trip. Knitmap to the rescue! And I still can't stop thinking about the wonderful store Stitch in my old home town of Grimbsby, Ontario and two particularly gorgeous and unusual things I found there: brightly coloured leather purse handles and a pair of mittens.

Okay, I have to be honest, it's mostly the mittens. Specifically, the yarn from which they were knitted, a baby alpaca, and then of course the entire wall of the stuff, in sumptuous colours, you have to walk past to get to the back of the store. And when I say "have to", you know I don't mean you're obliged - it's more of a magnetic pull. *sigh*. If you haven't come across the Americo line of yarn yet, it's definitely worth a look (or rather, a touch.)

Oddly enough the Americo store is much, much closer to me than Stitch, but I would much rather go the distance and get my supply there. Can you imagine a nicer place to shop?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Solving the Raspy Hand Problem (and other tips)

Radiator heating + extreme cold + constant handwashing to avoid 'flu = really, really scratchy barbed hands. Yeah, you can slather 'em with petroleum jelly and slip on cotton gloves overnight, but how does that help you now, when you want to knit with that really fine yarn on almost-as-fine needles?

It doesn't, so instead get yourself over to the kitchen counter and scrub some baking soda and water into them. Rinse, dry, and get to work. You're welcome!

In other news, I guess my longtime approach to knitting (see a pattern you like, learn whatever techniques are required to make it, do that, and move on to the next) has some holes in it. I just read last night about the three-needle bind off and it's so brilliant! I can think of lots of applications, the first of which is a purse or a pocket for same. If you, like me, are new to the concept, a very nice girl explains it all here in an astonishing three minutes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Luxury Lid

This cutie came to me after I impulse-purchased some wool/alpaca/silk blend yarn and unpacked it onto my scarf. It's warm and soft, and its not having a lot of elasticity (and therefore needing occasional adjustment) is made up for by its not having a lot of elasticity (and therefore not leaving a dent in your hair.)

View .pdf of Luxury Lid

Fast Hat Four Ways

I made up this hat when I decided, not long before Christmas, to knit some for about 14 different (and differently sized, aged, and style-type) people. It's fast and it's flexible and it's free for your knitting pleasure.

View .pdf of Fast Hat Four Ways