Ravelry and how I taught myself to knit

I’ve tried to put all my knitting projects up here in the past, but I’m trying to transfer it all over to my Ravelry account because it’s just a more consistent way to store all my projects.

Have you heard of Ravelry.com?

If you haven’t, and are interested in knitting or crochet, definitely check it out! I stumbled upon it when I was trying to learn several years ago and didn’t quite realize what a gold mine it is.  No less than all of the yarn stores I’ve walked into since then have all recommended going on there to get information about a project before you start.  I think they have every single pattern out there, many for free and others listed to buy.

The greatest part about it is you can look up a project and see who else has knit it and what they thought of the pattern.  Was it complicated to knit? A quick mindless pattern? Were some of the measurements off?

For example, I wanted to knit Sam a sweater for this year.  Unlike last year, where his sweater was just for kicks, he really needed one here because it actually gets cold. Like, below 40 and stuff. And lo and behold, this winter has been particularly cold.  So I check out toddler sweaters and find one I like.  This Everyday Pullover Sweater seemed interesting enough (read: two colors) but simple (just stripes) to get done quickly.

pulloverOn the right side there is a box that says “About this pattern” where you can get the average rating (what people thought of the pattern as a whole) and the average difficulty level (I like this green bar to be tiny!). And right beneath that is how many people have attempted and documented this project.  This pattern has 138 projects.  Click here or at the tab on the top and you can see what other people did with this same pattern.  Some people modify the pattern slightly and come up with some great projects!

new sweater

This feature is GREAT if you’re like me and completely incapable of envisioning what certain colors look like together.  I swear I have so many craft project ideas that get stalled out in the “but what color should I make it?” category! By looking at this project page I was able to tell before I started the pattern that I should likely make the sleeves smaller for my lean guy since many knitters were commenting how large and puffy the sleeves were. So I was able to make that adjustment to the pattern by decreasing stitches on the armhole before  I started knitting and voila! Save myself a bunch of time on a pattern and it actually fits!

So this is my Ravelry plug :)  I love this site for getting ideas for my next projects too as there is an option to browse and file away patterns for future use.  Since I’m next in line for a sweater (remember my husband’s year long sweater?) I’ve been trying to decide the exact sweater that I will love in order to make the effort worth it (and that won’t go out of style before I finish it!).  I really like this long faroese sweater, its just beautiful.  And this Paulie Cardigan is cute, but I’m having a hard time deciding on what colors I would do (see?). And I wonder if its too trendy.  If I were a really experienced knitter, I would LOVE to try a traditional Icelandic sweater since they are so gorgeous!  But I’ll probably save that one for a few years from now.  I’m likely going to do this Hepburn sweater since it seems simpler, yet flattering and has a yoke in one piece (I hate stitching together knit pieces).  But again, color??

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I’m often asked if I can teach people to knit.  I can! I’m actually thinking about hosting a knitting class I get this so often (although maybe people are being nice…) But in the meantime I highly recommend the way I taught myself. Cyber Seams! There are great little videos that you can watch that have techno music as the background instead of some odd voice randomly saying “now put the needle through here and under here” while you shout “where? WHERE???”  Plus with videos you can hit repeat and practice as much as you need to without admitting how long it REALLY took you to figure out what was going on :) I also bought a cheap “How to knit” book at Tuesday Morning but I’m sure any knitting book from Amazon or your local craft store will be as useful.  Honestly, I learned more from the videos, but having the pictures in hand were nice to jog my memory instead of re-watching the whole video.

My final recommendation for new knitters is to just pick an easy pattern (like this Felicity hat would be great) and just try to get through it.  And use cheap yarn, because then you won’t care as much :) Resist every perfectionist urge to rip it out and start over if you make a mistake because the main goal is just to FINISH a project to build confidence in the fact that it can be done.  Quality will come with practice.  This is going to take time folks!  Best of luck!

Also, if anyone out there is already on Ravelry, I’ve been updating my profile over time with all my projects I’ve done, so check it out! My profile name is alisoneleanore.

So, what sweater should I make next?  Do you use Ravelry already?  Is there a site like this for other crafts? Please don’t say Pinterest.

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More Knits!

Your comments on my last post made me feel like such a super star, guys :)  I know you shouldn’t blog for comments, but boy do they make my day!  Unfortunately, I have to report that my husband has since cut his hair.  Yes, he was trying out for Jesus in the Passion play, but my wonderful and glorious Valentine’s Day present was this:

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A (braided lock) of my love’s hair to always remember it by, because it is now, gone!  Yes, ultimately, I was a fan of the short hair.  But it was a dream of his and I supported it for a year, so that makes me a good wife, right?

Anyways, here are some other things I’ve knit in the past year!

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Hat for my sister in law

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Hat for a friend

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Apple potholder for a housewarming gift for a friend – actually crochet

I actually wrote about knitting baby things here a while ago.  How amazing it was to be able to knit things for my own baby!

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This is actually crochet.  And was very time intensive since each little square is done individually and then pieced together.  Which I hate doing.  This took me 2 months of evenings after work and much of my maternity leave the week before I had him. But I finished right before I had him.

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Matching cousin pumpkin hats

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“Tex-Ass” wool soaker ;)

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Cute family picture…Baby Sophisticate Shakespeare sweater barely visible.

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Close-up of Baby Sweater…you can see the buttons.

And there’s even more out there! I made a cowl and some coffee sleeves…as well as two more dish-cloths.  I don’t think I took pictures of those though.

So that’s what I’ve been up to!

Best reasons to knit while traveling

I’ve been wanting to compile this list for a while now.  Here are the best reasons I’ve come up with to pick up knitting (or crocheting) and then to travel with your knitting hobby!

1.  Lightweight.  1 or 2 needles and some yarn makes it easy to pack into your purse or bag and you have instant entertainment!

2.  Electricity free.  Not only are you not tied to a power outlet, but you can start it immediately as soon as you sit down in say an airplane seat.  No waiting until you reach 30,000 feet which means instant gratification for all you idle hands out there!  This is also a bonus when, say, you’re without power for a week.  You can knit a lot when there is no power (although it is admittedly harder to do by candlelight).

3.  Breaks the ice.  I have met more people on airplanes knitting in the past 2 years than I ever have before.  People will remark at what you’re making (including flight attendants, and in my experience it always pays to befriend them!) and other people nearby will join in.  Knitting is a friendly activity and apparently everyone likes a knitter!  Once, a man sitting next to me starting talking to me because had two daughters that knit and crochet and we struck up a conversation.  Next thing I know we were talking about nanotechnology and I got his business card because he worked at a national lab that I’ve worked at before and we (the hubs and I) were both considering applying for jobs at!  I also met a local author and exchanged tips with other unsuspecting knitters in hiding. And if you don’t talking to people…

4.  You might as well just put some headphones on while you knit.  That’s cool too.  Once you’ve reached 30,000 ft of course.

The only downsides are that on occasion misinformed TSA agents will give you static for bringing the needles through security.  Print out that TSA information from online and hopefully that will help!

 

And for anyone who’s interested in the sweater I can put updates soon.  I have no idea how this thing is going to come together and I’ve reached a little snag that has me super frustrated but I am proud to report that I could stop where I’m at and basically have a sweater vest!  Pleading with the husband, but he seems to really want those sleeves.  Maybe I can make my March deadline after all…

New knits…now with crochets!

So first off, I knit this cool little earflap hat.  These pictures don’t quite show how wonky it is, but you can see the cables in it that were pretty fun to do.

Hats remain the most satisfying to knit.  I have like 5 more patterns I want to try.

Also, earlier this summer I decided to take the plunge and start knitting….baby things.  That’s right.  Apparently in India only women expecting babies knit (and why my roommate stopped knitting right after I taught her, to not lead her mother in law on!).  A long time ago (ok, two years) I started knitting to calm my mind and yet give me something productive to do (so maybe that is true?).  I only became productive at it once I was stranded in another country and taking plane flights back and forth to Mexico, really.  But I decided I had a few close friends and relatives giving birth and so I wanted to celebrate their children and, as painful as it would be to not knit something for my own child, at least I could pray for their child as I knit.  So maybe if I wasn’t so vocal in being happy and estatic in their pregnancies, they’d see that they still mattered and I still cared about them, just in a way that was more conducive to my situation.  Also, I could avoid an unnecessary trip to Babies R Us, aka, the land of nightmares :)

Well anyways, I forgot to take a picture of the first baby blanket I knit before I sent it off :P  Bummer.  However, the second one I did take a picture of.  Only, I also started something new…crochet!  I’ve had a few friends request clearly crocheted items over the last year and it was bugging me that I didn’t know how to do it, though its supposedly easier.  So I bought a book and I learned.  And I crocheted this in a few nights as practice.

While I starting knitting the blankets before we found out we were pregnant, I bought that crochet book the first weeka we found out.  However, shortly later is when I discovered our dropping progesterone levels and so one night while making this, I told my husband that this would be for our little one.  Some people go buy their baby something to make it real, I crocheted this little guy.

So anyways, back to the blanket…I also crocheted my sister (and my new niece) this little stuffed koala.  He’s all wonky but I think he’s adorable.  AND one of a kind!  Can’t buy that in a store! (Probably because they wouldn’t let you sell it…).

And here’s another shot of my husband modeling just how comfy that blanket was…

What a good sport.  Anyways, I better start being more productive because I keep going to the store and buying yarn but unless there’s a change in my output, my husband is going to start getting suspicious….unless he already is…