Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Knitting in Public

Four months ago, I started knitting a pair of red socks. Today, I’m wearing them!

Top view of feet wearing hand knit red wool socks on a white background.

I pushed to finish the socks this week, taking them with me almost everywhere. It helped me get more knitting done, and an added benefit was seeing the reactions from others. I knit socks on four double-point needles; all of the little points sticking out in every direction seem to draw more attention than typical knitting on two straight needles.

As I was knitting at a few of my daughter’s basketball games, I was inevitably asked what I was knitting. The reply of “socks” seemed to take people aback, as if they needed a minute to process that socks are something that people still make.

Close up top view of feet wearing hand knit red wool socks on a white background.

There was the grandmother who reminisced about her mother teaching her to knit when she was very young. (She didn’t continue knitting as she grew up.) There was the mother from the opposing team who perked up when she saw me and announced that she brought knitting too. (She was making a multi-colored pastel scarf with a bulky yarn.) There were all of the curious faces of younger siblings, peeking over at me to try to figure out what I was doing. And there were even a few basketball players watching the knitting instead of the game, although thankfully from the bench rather than from the court!

Anyone who thinks that knitting equates to loneliness has clearly never knit in public.

Vogue Knitting magazine opened to mitt pattern page and a skein of blue Moda Dea Bamboo Wool on a white background.

As far as the fingerless mitts that I mentioned last week, it took some time for my youngest to pick just the right blue yarn from my stash. Her choice is Moda Dea Bamboo Wool (which is so discontinued that even Moda Dea no longer exists) in the colorway 3845 Blue Velvet. It’s a blend of 55% rayon from bamboo and 45% wool, which should give the mitts both warmth and durability.

After she chose the yarn, I found a pattern in the Fall 2009 issue of Vogue Knitting that I think will work well: Meander Mitts by RenĂ© E. Wells (no affiliations to either site). Next up will be measuring my youngest's hands to see if the pattern can be easily scaled down from an adult size to a child size. I don’t expect it to be a problem, but you never know.

Do you have any fun stories of knitting — or making other types of projects — in public?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This and That

Before starting this blog, I don’t think I realized how much I jump from project to project. I’d like to say that I’ll stick to one project at a time for more cohesive blog posts going forward, but I don’t know how realistic that is. Some projects are better for working on at home, while others are good for taking on the go. Some require total concentration, and others can be done while talking and watching television. Some need to be finished to meet a deadline or requirement, and some are for fun with no end goal. As I go through life’s changes, the projects go through changes too.

This week, I made a lot of little things.

Between a couple of months’ worth of my Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags subscription and the extra yarn from the Drinker’s Mitts, I had a backup of yarn to knit into my two scrap blankets. I worked my way through it all so my worktable is free of clutter, but now I have a backup of ends to weave!

Colorful hand knit blanket made from sock weight wool scraps in mitered square blocks with unwoven ends sticking up on a white background.

Colorful hand knit blanket made from worsted weight wool scraps in mitered square blocks with unwoven ends sticking up on a white background.

It was time for another Quilt Night this past weekend. I’m still working on my hand quilted queen size quiltThe last time I posted about it, I had just rounded the last corner and had five blocks and their corresponding borders left to quilt. Now, I’m down to about two-and-three-quarters blocks and their borders. Everything that’s left to be quilted fit easily in one photo!

Unfinished border of Bride's Bouquet quilt in a round hand quilting frame.

And after all of the posts about the Red Socks this summer, starting with my June 28 post, I have to admit that they’re not done yet. I’m about to turn the heel for the second sock. My original goal was to finish the second sock this week …

Completed hand knit red wool sock next to one in progress on metal double point knitting needles and a ball of yarn on a white background.

… But then my youngest requested a pair of fingerless mitts. It’s starting to get chilly here, particularly in the mornings, so they can definitely be of use right away. I need to go through my stash with her to pick a yarn before picking a pattern.

The socks might have to wait a little longer.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Apple Season

Fall is definitely here! The leaves are changing color, the temperatures are dropping, and football is on the television. I’m still knitting and quilting, but I’m also doing more baking. As far as fall dessert flavors, pumpkin spice doesn’t excite me but apple pie does!

Five McIntosh apples on a white background.

In our home, McIntosh apples are a favorite for desserts. Part of that may be because I grew up in an area where McIntosh apples were prevalent. I’ve read that they’re not generally considered a popular choice for cooking or baking because they break down easily. We actually prefer that softness.

Now, we live in an area where McIntosh apples aren’t as readily available. We can find them, but they’re not at every store and they’re only in stock for a brief period of time. Last week, I found them for the first time this season.

One of the biggest lessons that I remember from seventh grade home economics class is this: If you’re going to go through the effort to make one pie, you might as well make two.

I didn’t set out to buy all of the Macs, I simply picked out enough apples for two pies. We like really full pies, which means I always aim for nine apples per pie. After I picked out 18 apples, there were only four left. I thought most people would look at those four lonely apples and assume there was a reason they were left behind. I couldn’t leave them to languish like that.

Rustic apple tart with cut out leaf shapes in the center on a wood background.

I had visions of creating masterpieces with beautifully decorated crusts to put up on this blog. Instead, I had a houseful of helpers to keep me company, and part of creating is learning what works and what doesn’t work. They struggled to get the crust moist enough to stay together well, and that made decoration less of a priority.

Close up of top of apple pie with a ghost shape cut out of the center of the crust.

We ended up with one tart made from three apples, and two pies made from nine-and-a-half apples each. We used fall-themed cookie cutters on the tart and one pie, and playfully inserted a pie bird into the other pie.

Top view of an apple pie with a black pie bird in the center next to a half full glass pie pan and a spatula on a silver background.

We enjoyed eating them together as much as we enjoyed making them together, and that makes them masterpieces in my book.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Making Good Decisions

Last week, I wrote about a pair of mittens that I was finishing up. They’re done now!

A pair of colorful speckled hand knit mittens resting on a white background with the palm side showing.

Notice how the colors in the right-hand mitten pool more than in the left-hand mitten? It seems I was a little more tense while knitting that right-hand mitten. The fabric is just the slightest bit tighter on that mitten and it was enough to alter the color pattern. It’s a perfect example of the nature of handmade products! Those little variations prove that something was made by a person rather than by a machine.

The mittens used up almost a full skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in the colorway Electric Rainbow. I had purchased two skeins, so after I completed the mittens I had some decisions to make. Should I add the second skein to my stash? Maybe I should exchange it at the store for another colorway, or simply return it altogether and feel good about having the money back in my wallet? Or maybe I should get some solid-colored yarn and try that mitten pattern again as it was originally intended with stranded colorwork?

I had the yarn and receipt packed in my bag, ready to be returned or exchanged. However, before I had a chance to go back to the store, I decided that I liked the idea of making a hat to go with the mittens. I don’t wear hats very often, but I keep hearing that this is supposed to be a harsh winter. And those mittens aren’t going to coordinate with just any old hat.

Back view of girl wearing colorful slouchy hand knit Rikke hat with a bright blue background.

I spent a little time on Ravelry and found the free Rikke Hat pattern by Sarah Young, which has great reviews and looks very comfortable. It turned out to be a great choice. The pattern was simple and quick, and the hat is as comfortable and warm as it looks. I can’t decide whether I like this colorway better in stockinette stitch or garter stitch!

The cast-on for the hat is the German Twist method, which was new to me. It’s not too different from the standard long-tail cast-on, but it has more stretch. I think it’ll be my new go-to cast-on for a lot of projects. Here’s a Lucy Neatby video showing the German Twist cast-on:

In closing, I’ve been reading the book “Creativity, Inc.” by Ed Catmull this week. I’m about three-quarters through, and I’m really enjoying his take on managing creativity within a business environment. This line stood out to me today: “Craft is what we are expected to know; art is the unexpected use of our craft.”