Category Archives: FYI

PvP Knitting

Every week (well, three times a week), I write about knitting.  What I’m knitting, what I’d like to knit, what I’ve finished knitting.  But I never really talk about why I knit.

I know, I know, it seems obvious, right?  I knit because I love to knit.  Simple.  Heck, that’s why we’re all here!  We all love knitting!

But, what is it about knitting that draws us in?  Why do we do what we do?

The common wisdom is that there are two kinds of knitters: Product Knitters and Process Knitters.  And, while the common wisdom is often wrong, I think there’s definitely something to this one.

Product Knitters are in it for the finished product (hence the very creative name).  They see a gorgeous new sweater pop up on Ravelry, and they have to have it.  They work toward a goal.  If they want a new pair of socks, then by god, they’ll have a new pair of socks (even if they hate knitting socks).I can respect that kind of goal-oriented knitting.  I know I feel that urge from time to time (mostly when my old hand-knits start wearing out).

But, if I’m being honest, I’m more of a Process Knitter.

Process Knitters knit for the sake of knitting.  They knit because they love the feel of yarn sliding through their fingers and enjoy the act of making each stitch, one after another.  They see a new pattern and think “Wow, I’d really love to knit that,” not, “Wow, I’d really love to wear that.”  (Which explains some of the sweaters I’ve made and almost never worn… oops!)

Of course, every knitter has a little Process Knitter in them, and a little Product Knitter.  And, I’m sure there are people that knit for other reasons, too.  But no matter where you fall on the Process vs. Product spectrum, we all love what we do.

What do you think about the whole Process Knitter vs. Product Knitter taxonomy?  Is there anything to it?  Which are you?

Marking Stitches

So, I sat down to write this post about an hour ago.  Then I decided to check Facebook, where I discovered that someone had posted videos of the Crufts dog show from last weekend.  Needless to say,  I got rather distracted watching the agility trials, and an hour later, I’m just getting started writing.  So it goes.

(This has nothing to do with knitting, or this blog, but you have to watch this video- It’s amazing!)

Right?!

Now you’ll be sucked down a dog show YouTube rabbit hole, and I’m not even a bit sorry.

Aaaaaanyway, let’s talk stitch markers.

I’m taking a metalworking/jewelry class at the local community college, where I’m learning jewelry soldering.  I made some rings, earrings, and even a little box.  I’m halfway through a necklace that’s made of lots of pieces of sea glass set in silver.  It’s so fun to learn a new skill!

But, I think my favorite pieces (or at least the pieces I’m getting the most use out of) are my little stitch markers.  (My teacher was confused as to why I was making so many little jump rings, and wanted me to turn them into a chain.  I tried to explain what a stitch marker was, but she remains unconvinced.  She is clearly not a knitter.)

(Also, this picture turned out pretty cool- It looks like my stitch markers are just floating in spaaaaace!)

They’re square copper wire, plated with silver and twisted to make the cool spiral design.  Then, I formed them into little circles using a special jig and a tiny saw, and soldered them shut.  Super simple, especially compared to some of the projects people are making in my class, but really satisfying and oh so practical.

I like these little guys because they’re seamless (and therefore can’t snag), they’re low-profile (so they don’t get in the way), and they don’t have any charms or beads on them (which, while pretty, can get annoying if you’re making a project where you need dozens of stitch markers).

I’ve got one class left before the end of the quarter, and I’m half-inclined to just spend the three hours making more stitch markers, instead of finishing my big final project.

Do you have favorite stitch markers?

International Women’s Day and A Day Without A Woman

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!  Especially all you amazing ladies out there!

Today is a day  to appreciate everything women have done in history, as well as everything they do day-to-day to make the world a better place.  It’s a day to acknowledge our mothers and grandmothers (Happy Women’s Day, Mom!  And, Happy Women’s Day, Mother-in-Law!), and how they raised us to be strong, independent women.  And it’s a day to remember the amazing women who have changed history; the Harriet Tubmans, the Hillary Clintons, the Margaret Sangers, the Sally Rides, and the Malala Yousafzais of the world.

While women’s rights and opportunities have come a long way (We can have our own credit card!  We can work outside the home!  We can go to college!), we still need to keep fighting for our rights.  Women are still paid less than men for equal work, and women (especially mothers, women of color, and LGBTQ women) are often discriminated against when applying for jobs.  Women make up the majority of the minimum-wage workforce, and yet are still expected to be the primary caregivers of their families.

So, I’m writing this (sorry if you were hoping for some knitting- that’ll be back soon), to support International Women’s Day and the Day Without A Woman strike.  It’s important that we, as women and allies, keep talking about issues of gender inequality.  It’s important that we call out injustice when we see it.  It’s important that we work to make positive change, to achieve gender equality in the workplace and out.

So, today, give your representative a call, talk to your boss about equal pay, or just wear red in solidarity with the women fighting for their rights.  We’ve come a long way, but we’re not done yet.

Late-night Knitting

I go a little crazy every time I get close to finishing a project, especially a big project.  I get a little obsessed, and I kind of lose touch with the passage of time.

It’s not ideal, but it happens.  And, it happened to me last night.  I was finishing up a sweater (a super secret sweater you’ll see later), and I had about six inches of sleeve left to knit.  I sat down to work on it for a few hours, thinking I could power through before it got too late.  I kept measuring it, counting my stitches and rows,  convincing myself that I was almost done.

Until the clock hit 11, and my husband reminded me it was past my bedtime.

After a little whining on my part and cajoling on his, I went to sleep, my last cuff mere rows from completion.It’s probably good he made me go to bed- when I get to this point in a project, if I’m left to my own devices, I stay up as late as necessary to finish.  (I remember once accidentally staying up until 5 in the morning on a week night, just so I could finish a dress I was sewing.  That wasn’t a great idea.)

Anyway, my knitting was still waiting for me this morning.  And after a cup of tea and a little breakfast, I’ve finished my sweater.  Now, it’s off to be blocked!Do you ever lose track of time while working on a project?

On Balance

I’m going to share with you one of my favorite pieces of knitting equipment.  It’s something a little unexpected, but super useful.  It’s great for planning new projects.  And it’s something you might already have… in your kitchen.

It’s a little scale!61znmd0vewl-_sl1222_1

Instead of measuring the length of yarn (which would be both annoying and very very difficult), I weigh it.  A new skein of yarn will always have the weight and length (for example, 100g and 250 yards) on the label, so with a little math, you’ll be able to figure out how many yards are in any half-finished ball of yarn.

This is the one I have.  I love it.  It’s got settings for grams and ounces (I like using grams, since they’re a little more accurate than ounces).  It’s also great, because the little control panel/readout can be pulled away, if you’re weighing something big (like a bowl of cherries or a whole sweater).7157zip2oel-_sl1500_1But, mostly I like this one because it’s the one we already had (we got it as a wedding gift years ago). Really, any fairly accurate kitchen scale works for weighing yarn.

So, what do I use my scale for?

Just about anything where I’m trying to estimate, predict, or calculate how much yarn I have left or how much yarn I need for a project or how much yarn I’ve already used.

For example.  I’m making a sweater, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to have enough yarn to finish the sleeves.  So, I weighed the sleeveless sweater and marked down that weight.  Then I knit one sleeve and weighed it again.  Then, with a little math, I figured out how much yarn I used for one sleeve, and therefore how much yarn I’ll need for the second one. (Spoiler: I’ve got enough yarn for the second sleeve!  Yay!)

I’ve also used my scale to plan out my mother bears.  I figured out how many grams of yarn I need for each part of a bear (skin, pants, etc.).  Then, I can go through my stash and weigh my bits of yarn to figure out which are big enough for another bear.

I try remember how much yarn I use of each skein of yarn, but sometimes yarn lives in my stash for so long, I forget what I used it for.  So, again I break out the scale to get an estimate on how much of a half-finished skein is left, which helps when I’m planning out a new project.

It seems like a silly addition to a knitting stash, but a scale is super useful!

Do you have a favorite knitting tool that you re-purposed from somewhere else?

On ALL my needles

When I really started getting serious with knitting, back in college, I scoffed at knitters that I thought had “poor self control.”  (As a straight-A’s, honor roll over achiever-type, I scoffed at anyone who I thought had poor self control.  Not one of my more endearing character traits.)  I would never have more yarn in my stash than I could use.  I would never start a project and not finish it.  And, I would never have more than one project going on at once.

Never!

Well.

Maybe not never…

18-year-old me would be horrified with 30-year-old me.  I’ve got a room half-filled with boxes of yarn that “I will definitely use… some day.” I think I’ve got 4 or 5 projects on the needles right now, and about half of those are somewhere between hibernating and I-just-need-to-frog-this-but-I-can’t-be-bothered.

In fact, I now carefully plan my multiple projects.  I always have a big knitting project (sometimes it’s for work, sometimes it’s a gift) that I work on at home.  This is usually something awkward or complicated, something that’s just easier to keep by the couch and not worry about dragging all over town.img_3860I have a simple project- something that’s just a lot of stockinette or other mindless knitting.  I use this project for keeping my hands busy when my mind is doing something else- playing a game with friends, watching a tense movie, or something with subtitles.  (My bears are great for this!)img_3934And, I always have something small in the works, a project that I can keep in my purse and work on when I have a few minutes.  Waiting in line to get into a museum? Knit.  Got to work a little early? Knit.  Barber running a bit late? Knit.  In my opinion, there’s nothing better for purse knitting than a pair of socks (one at a time, of course, to leave more room in my purse for chocolate and a sketchbook).img_4679Do you work on multiple projects at the same time, or are you a one-and-done kind of knitter?

Help!!

I don’t know if you do this, but every time I finish a big project (especially if it’s a big project that I had to finish on a deadline), my mind goes entirely blank.

Like, it’s just static. *bzzzxzxzzxbbxbxzzz*  Nothing happening in there.

My brain is buzzing right now (and not in the good “I’ve got a million great ideas” way).  I just finished a big, purple, stockinette thing for a design I’ve been working on for the last month, and now I’ve got a couple weeks to knit something “for myself” before my next work project comes along.6e96ba2c-468a-4b0a-b19a-f42b4ab60fe3I think it must be something about pouring all your focus, attention, and  creative drive into one specific project.  Focusing so intensely that you don’t think about your “next steps” as you go.  I used to get the same feeling after finals in college.  My mind would totally empty for a day or two after, and I’d just bounce around campus, trying to find something to do.

I’ve spent the morning looking at Ravelry, but nothing is sticking.  Maybe I’ll look through the craft books I got for Christmas- maybe I’ll find something cool in there?  Or maybe I’ll just spend the day glaring at my yarn, and hoping it develops the ability to speak and tells me what I should make next.img_4518Am I the only one?  (Probably not- if you ask that, you’re not the only one, as a rule.) What do you do to break through the “just finished a project” zone-out?

Smashing the Patriarchy, One Stitch at a Time

You guys.

Last weekend.

Holy cow.

Last Friday was my birthday, so my husband and I had planned to visit friends in Los Angeles for the weekend.  (Mostly because I knew I’d get depressed when you-know-who was sworn into office, and you can’t really be depressed when it’s warm, sunny, and you get to eat lots of great food with your friends.)  When we made our plans, we didn’t know about the marches planned for Saturday.  But, when we did find out about them, we all immediately knew my birthday weekend wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of civil disobedience.

And knitting. (Natch.)

We talked about the Pussyhat Project last week, and it certainly seems like we weren’t the only ones.  Look at this picture I found on their website- Look at that sea of pink hats at the DC march!  Amazing!14851386614901In LA, there weren’t quite so many hats, what with the warmer weather, but there were still a bunch! (It was so hard to get a picture of the whole crowd- Downtown LA was so full of people, we spread out across blocks and blocks!)wp_20170121_12_30_06_proI brought a bunch of hats from Seattle (knitting two while we traveled on Friday).  I gave away one to my husband and one to our friend, Will.  (Jenny made her own, because she’s a badass knitter, too!).  And, I gave away five to people I met on the street!img_3413I even brought my yarn to the march with me (because I am a goody-two-shoes who likes to follow rules, so I get a lot of nervous energy at things like this).wp_20170121_11_26_41_pro(I actually finished this hat on the train back from the march, and gave away the one I was wearing as we left downtown!)

It was an amazing day, and I’ve really been enjoying all the coverage of the marches around the world- it makes me feel like maybe, just maybe, we’re going to be OK.

And, to keep the spirit of the Women’s March alive, I’ve been putting on my Pussyhat every morning and calling my Congresswomen (and trying to call the Whitehouse- though their phone system seems to be down most of the time).  I’m not great at talking to strangers, and talking on the phone gives me anxiety, but I’m doing it anyway.  If you want to join me- you can find your Congresspeople here.  (Or, email me your address, and I’ll find their numbers for you!) Call them!  Let you know what you’re thinking!  Wear your pink hats with pride!

Give me a K!

Give me an N!

Give me an I!

Give me a T!

What’s that spell?

Knit!

What are we going to do?

Knit!

img_4420I’ve got my pom-poms out, and I’m cheering you on (sure, they’re not cheerleader pompoms, but you get the idea)!  You can do it!  You’ve got 4 days left (5, if you do your gift exchange in the evening) for your Christmas knitting!  And you’ve got this!img_4433Knit! Purl! Yarn over!  Drink that extra cup of coffee so you can stay up to “just finish this section.”  Your boss won’t mind if you’re a little late for work, I’m sure they’d understand you just had to get to the cuff.  And, remember that red lights and grocery store lines are really just wasted time, unless you bring your knitting with you.

I believe in you!

Dear Christmas Knitting,

img_3557Dear Christmas Knitting,

Hi.  It’s me.  We’ve been spending a lot of time together lately, and I think I need to get some things off my chest.

When we started, almost six months ago, everything was great.  We got along great.  It felt like we had all the time in the world.  Everything was easy, fun, even.  I enjoyed spending time with you, and planning the projects for everyone on my list.

But then, something happened over the course of months.  It was a slow change.  Instead of looking forward to spending an hour or two with you every evening, you became a chore.  I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but that’s what happened.  You know it, and I know it.

And now, this close to Christmas, we’ve been spending every free moment together, working hard to make our deadline.  I’ve been feeling the crunch as the due date looms closer.  Of course I’ll stick with you to the finish, but then… I think we might be done.

I don’t think we’ll be doing this again next year.  I think I might just go shopping for Christmas gifts, or possibly some nice gift cards.    Sure, I’ve said this before, but this year I mean it.  For real.  I promise.

Maybe.

Oh, who am I kidding. I’ll see you next year.

-Allison