31 October 2013

Considering Knitting

10:15 AM 0 Comments
I can't remember which I learned first: knitting or crochet. I've always known the basics of both, but once I learned how to crochet in the round, that interest exploded. Hats, clothes, dog sweaters... I felt like I could make anything I wanted. And my knitting skills stalled at that, "Uh, I can make a scarf." stage.

But about once a year, I think to myself, "I miss knitting. I could go for a scarf." and I pick up my knitting needles, get about 3 rows done, and then throw them back down, frustrated with having to juggle two needles and feel like Edward Scissorhands in the process.

Besides, for crochet, you just find a hook you like and go nuts. It's a different story with knitting. Want to try cables? Go buy a cable needle. Want to make a hat? Go buy a 16" circular needle. Want to make a sweater? Go buy a larger size circular needle. Socks? Find some double pointed needles. It felt like I was really constrained by my lack of knitting 'supplies'.

Then I heard about knooking. It's knitting with a crochet hook. You need a special crochet hook with a cable attached in order to hold the "live" stitches. This sounded like exactly my kind of thing! I got to it as soon as I could.

 Pretty awesome, right?! I realize the purl stitches are wrong, but that's just because I take a shortcut when I do them, otherwise they're just too plain awkward and fumbly. I decided, hey, let's try some ribbing and then I can start my first knitted hat! Then this happened:

See the problem? I had basically no stitch definition. I don't know if this was user error or what - but no matter what ribbing pattern I tried, I was just getting a flat piece like this one. Problem is, at this point, I'd been pouring over knitting patterns that I wanted to try with my knook for days. Knowing that I couldn't pull off the look that I really wanted - I started looking into circular knitting needles. I found a local yarn shop and decided I'd go there and find out what they had, and what they thought the best option for me would be. Then I came home with this: My Knitter's Pride Dreamz 16" size 7 circular needle.

And I'm in love. It's still not relaxing like crochet is for me - I can't do it mindlessly or without looking the way I can crochet, but something about the clicking of those wooden knitting needles is really addicting. I've got a long way to go technique-wise, but I did manage to cast on something last night:

 In theory, it'll be a hat with a ribbed edge and stockinette cap. I'm not really following a pattern or anything, just sort of using this as a test swatch on the circular needles while I get used to the different tension needs and stitches used for knitting.

Final verdict? I'm in love with crochet. But I might be about to fall in love with knitting just a little bit too.

20 October 2013

Blanket Fever

12:04 PM 0 Comments
I've been on a blanket-making binge lately. Maybe it's just because the nights are starting to get colder and colder around here. Which just bums me out. But alas, crochet items do come much more in handy around this time of year. I'm already thinking up wrist warmers and possibly a car wheel cover for those cold mornings when you can barely hold the wheel.

When my husband and I had been married about a year or so, I decided to start my first crochet blanket. I only knew how to do single crochet in a straight line - and felt like making a blanket. In time, as I learned new stitches and techniques, I actually quite grew to hate this blanket. The stitches were uneven, there was a different number of rows in each color stripe, and halfway through it, I changed hook sizes. It's kind of a disaster. Unfortunately, my husband really loved it. So I've felt bad ever since for not wanting to finish it. So - now that I've got a few more skills under my crochet belt, I decided to start another:

I wanted to make a ripple blanket, and got started right away. But then... a friend of mine had a baby girl, and I made her totally cute granny square baby blanket: 

I loved making this one a little bit too much, because I ended up frogging my ripple blanket and deciding I wanted our 'family blanket' to also be a nice big granny square like this one. And so this was born: 

There was two issues with this generation of the blanket - first, those little granny holes are chihuahua-nail traps. No sooner would I get a row finished than a chihuahua would walk by and squeal cause their toes were getting stuck in all the holes. Second - my hubby and I agreed that the royal blue just really wasn't meshing well with the baby and navy blues, so I decided to frog this one as well. 

I started again, still with a granny square-like design, but without the traditional 'granny' holes: 

This is the current state of the blanket. I'm nearing the half-way point as far as size goes, and I'm still in love with it, so I'm thinking I may have FINALLY reached a blanket that I have a chance of actually finishing! Though I'll admit, I've already got a few ideas pinned for other blanket patterns I'd like to tackle... 

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