Sunday, 20 February 2011

An Introduction

Hello, my name is Caryl and I'm a knitter...

I had a friend tell me the other day as I was gushing on about a particular yarn that I have a problem, but there doesn't seem to be a Knitters Anonymous out there, so I'll just have to deal with my "issue". As yet it's not too bad - my stash hasn't completely taken over my apartment, and I still have a little bit of willpower left to say "maybe later" when I see that perfect skein of yarn available to order from wherever. I, of course, don't see any of this as a problem, except perhaps for the fact that I wish I could win the lottery so I can order whatever I want (one of everything from SweetGeorgia Yarns in every colourway please!) instead of having to pick and choose.

To give you a little bit of background, I learned to crochet when I was about seven when my mother taught me to make booties for my beloved teddy bear, Tina. The crocheting thing never did stick with me, nor did the sewing that my stepmother was so good at. She tried to teach me, and was very patient about it but it just didn't hold my interest. When I was fourteen I remember asking my grandmother to help me with a vest that I wanted to make for my baby sister. I had just moved to live with my mother and younger sister, and I missed Kate dreadfully and wanted to make her something special. So Grandma did her best to teach me, but honestly, other than the stocking stitch body, she really did everything. I couldn't keep ribbing straight, let alone tension, and the increases/decreases for shaping just baffled me. Grandma finished the project for me and sewed it up, then very graciously allowed me to take credit for the gift. I have no idea what happened to that little vest, or if it was even worn, but it was a good learning tool for me anyway.

I didn't knit again for a few years, then I was in Australia and far away from my boyfriend and wanted to make him a sweater. I found a pattern I thought was nice - a basic stocking stitch drop sleeve sweater with a large argyle pattern across the chest for a little bit of entertainment. My stepmother helped me out a lot on this sweater, but unlike my grandmother, didn't actually do any of the work except when demonstrating techniques for me. I was very proud of that sweater when I was done. I sent it off and he really liked it when he got it. Only problem was I'd made the sleeves too long, so he had a friend's mum take it apart to shorten them. Other than that, he wore that sweater for years. That went quite a ways towards making me think that knitting things for people was a good thing to continue. I've been lucky in that pretty much everything I've ever made for other people has been worn or used - and appreciated - for a long time.

Again I put away the knitting for a while as life just got in the way. I picked it up again when I was in my early 20's and made four cardigans in a row - one for myself out of some sale yarn I'd picked up in a great fuschia colourway which I had to supplement with black for the ribbing and button bands because there wasn't enough pink, then one for my mother-in-law in navy and black, nice dark colours that she could wear at work and would go with anything she wore; a purple and black one for my baby sister who was coming to visit from Australia and a green and black one for my best friend - she still has it, and she still wears it. That's going back almost 20 years, which just boggles my mind.

I started making afghans after a while, thinking that at least the making up of the project might be less of a pain, but of course that was just me being delusional. I did learn to adapt patterns somewhat so that I wouldn't have to sew them up, as well as learning a great many different cable and lace stitches. They manage to keep the interest going even when you're looking at the half-finished afghan thinking "What the hell have I gotten myself into?"

I switched to baby blankets a few years ago, if nothing else they're more portable since they're so much smaller. I had some random yarn (yes, it was acrylic, I'm so ashamed... *hangs head and shuffles feet* ) that I wanted to use up, so I just checked out one of my many books of stitch patterns and did the math to see how many stitches to cast on and away I went. That blanket went to friends of my boyfriend who had had a beautiful baby girl, and since I needed something to do again I cast on for another one. Sometimes I used patterns, other times I just cobbled something together from my stitch books like I did with that one. I ended up selling quite a few of them to people at work who had family or friends having little ones, so at least I wasn't neck deep in baby blankets. My original thought had been to donate them to the local hospital for the nursery, but I never seem to have any left over.

Last summer, after haunting my LYS for ages, I signed up for a sock class and learned how to make toe-up socks using the magic loop method. Never made socks before. Wow! I was totally hooked by that class. I don't know how many pairs I've made so far, but it's just waaaay too much fun to ever stop! :D I also took a class in top-down sweater knitting, but that's a project on hold for now. I'm going to have to go back and frog the sample we made and re-knit it, just to remember what I learned. I got rather ill a few days after that class, so what I learned pretty much went right out of my head.

Currently on the needles I have the Sun Filled Snow Day socks from the Yummy Yarn Studio's sock of the month club for Jan 2011 - they've been entertaining because of having to mess with the pattern a bit. It's written for cuff down, and I only know how to do toe-up. I know I could learn, but I don't want to destroy the yarn in the process if I have to rip it out a lot, so I'll save that for some cheap Kroy sock yarn that I don't care about. Mind you, I've had to frog them a few times already just while getting the sense of the pattern and the hang of doing two socks on one needle. I figured that learning curve was enough of a challenge for this pair of socks :)

I also have this Bulky Baby Blanket on needles as well - my sister called me in a panic last week asking if I had any blankets lying around that she could have as a gift for a friend. When I said no, she asked if I could make one in four days... I still said no :P I can be quick, but not that quick unless I'm on holidays and don't have to worry about going to work and other pesky things of that nature. She then amended that to two weeks, and I said I could manage that. The center is done, in Spud and Chloe Outer yarn in the Bubble colourway, and the edging is almost completely cast on in the Spud and Chloe Sweater yarn in Firefly. It should only be another day or so before it's completely done, and she will hopefully be very pleased with it.

On top of that I have the second of a pair of socks on needles as well. I'm at the turning of the heel for this one - I love short row heels rather than ones with gussets and heel flaps even though I think they look very sharp. I tried on the first sock to do that, just sort of winging it, going by basic instruction in one of my sock books but after screwing it up twice and having to frog back to halfway up the foot I said to hell with it and worked a short row heel instead. I did use a modified stitch for the heel to give it some texture and strength, at least that's the hope - I'll let you know how long it takes to wear a hole through it.

That's all I have in progress right now - not bad, if I say so myself. Mind you that doesn't take into account the many things I have pending in my mental queue - a couple of lace scarves and/or shawls, a stole, another baby blanket that I managed to get a whole whack of Sirdar's Baby Bamboo for at my LYS's semi-annual clearout sale last summer, and all the socks I'll be knitting up both from my stash and from the yarns I'll be getting from the three different sock clubs that I'm currently a part of. I also have two skeins on order from Twisted Fibre Art in the Lagoon and Warlock colourways and I just can't wait to get my hands on those. I'll be buying the Rivendell Smoke Ring cowl pattern from Susan Pandorf's Lord of the Rings design collection for at least one of those skeins - such incredibly beautiful patterns she comes up with. I just love them :)

Whew... that's a really long introduction, isn't it...

So we'll leave it at that for now, and hopefully I'll still have something to talk about the next time I come back. I'll be trying to do this at least weekly, so I hope you'll come back and see what I've been up to.

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