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.

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!

THE Sweater

Because I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath for..oh man, over a year?!

It was finished by Christmas, although pictures didn’t get uploaded until…today.  Oops.

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And here’s the best picture I have of the sweater in action.  I personally think it looks a lot better on the ground, close up, with an artistic eye and nice lighting.  That way you can’t actually see how well it doesn’t fit.  Which is not well at all.  Its a little bulky and a little short.  But hey, I have a loving husband who promised to wear it no matter what so, that’s on him.

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And yes, that was Texas, the day after Christmas.

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…

Middle America

Well, we arrived  in Omaha tonight!  Its been 14 years since I’ve been back here and believe me, I thought if anything we’d be coming back to visit friends or see the College World Series (so did my husband!) but I guess this works too.  We plan to do a little pilgrimage to the town I grew up in too while we’re here, (as well as all the other ones all over the country/world)  so that should be exciting.  I’m really excited to see my old schools and houses!

This will be a little picture post, since the name of the game is fun, so here’s a brief run down of what we’ve been doing.

Saying goodbye to the lab in Texas

Did you really think I was just sitting in the car?  Knitting progress through Texas.

More knitting progress through Arkansas...but took it in front of the wrong state...doh!

We stopped for few nights in Arkansas to see some family and go to Riverfest.  Completed a 5k and attended some concerts.  And saw the Irish dancers!

After our Retro 5k

Irish dancers

As I told my husband, most people put pictures of their babies/kids next to inamate objects on their blogs to show their growth.  Here I am posting pictures of my sock.  Not even my dog, but a sock.  How much more pathetic can I get?  Maybe that will change soon…(wait…was that a glimmer of hope you just witnessed?? All of your pep talks may be paying off!)

And the best medicine to calm some fears, meeting someone wiser and more experienced in this department…I bring you the proof….

wait, who's that in the background?? :)

Finally got to meet this girl and her husband, about a year after the first time I emailed her and said I may be coming to Omaha.  “Mr. Mysterio” as my husband called her at first (did I tell you that?!), turned out to be real and not an axe murder (whew!).  Hit it off right away and am very glad that we had a chance to meet before the surgery to be reminded that I really am a wuss and it will be ok!

Anyway, stay tuned and I’ll try to update how it goes and eventually, if I ever finish that sock!

(Ok, maybe one of those is more exciting than the other….)

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You better believe I’m talking about the sock!!

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Wow, I’m in a weird mood.

Knitting gone wrong

Three weeks in Mexico filled with lots of bus travel afforded me a lot of time to knit, so I thought I’d share what I made here.  First, the good.  I decided to try my hand at knitting with cotton yarn and I made this dishcloth for our new home.  I chose this project because it was simple and repetitive and confined to a small space.

Though it turned out surprisingly cute (I like the texture) it didn’t take long at all. And considering I’m going to be scrubbing counters and dirty dishes with it, that’s a good thing.

Next up is where things went a little south.  I bought a book on clearance that had a couple good projects in it, including one on “slippers” which I thought, again, would be nice to wear in our new place that doesn’t have carpet.  Unfortunately, I chose a coral-ish/orange color (because I was trying to go for something fun) and they turned out to look a little more like adult booties.

Adult booties

I actually didn’t notice that I bought two balls from different dye lots until after I was done, so these guys are actually slightly different colors.  But here they are on:

The book had them in brown, but I thought that was too boring.  Maybe I’ll be boring when I make these the next time…

My husband insists I look “fresh” and if fresh means “ridiculous” then he’d be dead on.  He does insist that he wants to wear these though, so maybe I can make myself a better pair :)

Also, these shots were taken “pre-blocking” so maybe that will help a little since the shape was a little off here.  Overall, I’d give these slippers an “eh” and would definitely do them in a darker color in the future.  Guess it was good practice…

On to larger projects next!

Tri-colored Hat

Our lab cleaning lady saw me wearing my first hat a while back….I think it was December…and asked where I got it.  When I told her I made it she asked how much to have one made for her.  I told her freeee because I was dying to make knitted things for anyone who wanted one!

It took me a while to make it, as I was making all that other stuff, but I finally finished this sometime at the end of January.  I made it tri-colored because she said she couldn’t decide and let me choose.  And I couldn’t decide either!  I thought it might look a little funky/schizophrenic, but I actually might make a multi-colored hat for myself so I can wear it with multiple things.

I snapped some pictures of it in lab before I gave it to her, and I wanted to get a picture of her in it too, but I chickened out at the last minute because I thought it would be creepy.  Unfortunately, I did get it to her after the last cold snap of the year (we think) so she’ll probably have to wait until next year to wear it.  Oh well.

Oh, and its actually the same pattern as the first one I made, but I knitted it in the round instead of…what is it called…linear knitting?  So no seam! I also had the needle size too big in the beginning and when I switched to a smaller size at about row 5 it rolled up nicely to make a little brim, for a slightly different style.  Happy mistake!

Anyway, posting it now so I don’t forget because I probably won’t be completing any projects any time soon.

New Knits

So the famous knitting update…I’m starting to look forward to doing these!  I finished a project I’d been working on since the first time I went to Mexico:  a huge, soft knitted scarf . When I started on it back in the fall, it progressed quickly because it uses big needles and chunky yarn.  However, I quickly realized that under no circumstance in either geographic location I was oscillating between would I ever need such a wide, warm scarf.  So it sat unfinished to knit the socks.  How wrong I was!  TEXAS ICE STORM came two weeks ago (where we had for all of 3 hours – and 800 car accidents as a result)  and I finished this project in 1 night because I knew I would surely freeze to death without it.  Here it is in all its glory:  Chunky Scarf!

Next project…I mentioned my roommate wanted a hat like the one I made before.  So I tried to knit her one in time for her birthday.  And then Ice Storm was in the forecast, so I stayed up late one night trying to finish it because she did not even own a hat. Imagine my surprise when I finally finished it and tried to put it on.  It wouldn’t fit over my moonhead!!

FIrst hat I made (right) vs. new hat I made (left)

See, Eloisa?  I do have a cabeza de luna!  It turns out the directions didn’t include the needle size (and I forgot what I used last time) and I knitted it using the wrong needles.  That, apparently, makes a big difference.  Its super tight and really compresses the noggin.  That’s what I get for refusing to ever make a gauge swatch!  I need to find an 8 year old to give it to…

Final project, my first project knitting on a round needle!  All the internet sites make it sound like torture, but I found it surprisingly fun and easy.  The shape of the needle keeps the points close together so its easier to maneuver and knit quickly.  So my advice to all other knitters out there, do not fear the circle needle!  It might become your best friend.  Introducing, ‘Shroom Hat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its supposed to be a little slouchy, but I think I could have extended both the ribbing and the ‘shroom part to make it slouchier.  Also, with long hair, the only way I can wear it is with the hair in a bun (which I usually do anyway) otherwise the hat will just pop off.   I would have liked to use a brighter color yarn, but I just used what I had.  If I wear it incorrectly, it looks like a chef hat!  I will probably make this hat again since it looks cute from the front and is more stylish.

Anyways, that’s what I got!

 

BTW…my roommate painted that orange painting in the background…isn’t she talented?

I never thought I’d feel this way about socks

I mentioned way back last year (I get to use that joke at least once!) that I was knitting some socks.  Boy did they take me a long time!  [For what its worth, I would have finished way earlier had the Mexican security agents bothered to read the TSA guidelines and realized that knitting needles are NOT fireworks nor dangerous weapons, but are specifically exempt from being confiscated :(]  Anyways, these little guys were worth it. And they’ve confirmed their worth by surviving their first bout with the washing machine!   So, I’m doubly glad.  I about had a heart attack when I realized I washed them before I took a picture to prove they existed.

I wanted to make socks precisely because I’ve heard that they are very hard to make.  If I were a bug, I’d have totally been killed by that giant buzzing neon light by now.  What I learned is that socks are indeed a huge pain to make, but not so much because of complicated knitting patterns, but because they take forever.  Especially when you decide to go against the directions and make them calf high (which on my chunky German calves, still don’t make it very high.  I forgot to measure the hypotenuse!)  And I didn’t even make them with the smallest needles possible! (Which would only have increased the time).

Anyway, here they are in all their glory, completed using 4 double point needles, as you can see in the first picture.  I think the self-striping yarn is pretty nifty.

All that work and I'm only this far?? Picture time!

 

One looks slightly bigger because I'd already tried it on and stretched it out

 

I think they look better on :)

Oh, and if you’re curious how I, a self taught knitter, figured out how to “turn the gusset” and “graft the toe” with reasonable success on the first try, I give all credit to this lady on youtube, who, with her charming British accent, can take you step by step through a whole sock pattern and lay it out easy-peasy. And her voice lowers your blood pressure – if you don’t fall asleep first!

Have you ever knitted socks?  Have you ever gotten something unlawfully confiscated by the TSA and almost cried like a baby?  Please don’t say its just me on both counts!