Friday, May 27, 2011

Helpful Hint #2 - Take-Along projects—bring a project that is easy to do.

When I first started taking along my knitting and crocheting projects to do in public, I made the mistake of choosing ANY project I happened to be working on, hoping to impress people with my "advanced" skills.

I quickly discovered that a complicated cable stitch pattern with an 18-row repeat was NOT the way to go for someone who has trouble remembering a 5-item grocery list.
This gets even iffier if you are crafting during something to which you are supposed to be paying attention, such as:
1) A lecture
2) A sermon
3) A 12-Step meeting
4) A sporting event
5) A movie (a major problem, seeing as this is in the dark)

I could continue on, ad infinitum, seeing as we yarn and thread people have discovered any number of venues at which to practice our craft on the fly. 

The point here is to bring along something that is relatively easy to do, so that you can pay attention to the activity at hand.  I find projects that involve endless rows of stockinette stitch, garter stitch, or single crochet are ideal candidates for this.  These are the sort of projects where one is in serious danger of death by boredom, unless they are executed while listening to a lecture, a sermon, a movie, etc.  Also, projects like these make it easier to get into "the zone"—that perfect synergy of creating while taking in the world around you that we crafters know only too well.
In addition to long, drawn-out cable patterns, other public no-nos include:

1)  Projects that require that you follow a pattern, whether it be on paper or on a pdf file off your laptop, eReader, or PDA. 

2)  Projects that require multiple color changes. 

3)  Projects where you are unfamiliar with the stitches and/or the technique—for instance, don't pick the next baseball game to decide you'd like to experiment with DPNs.

4)  Fair Isle Knitting, unless you are REALLY good at it.  There is a woman I know who can not only do this and listen—she can do this and TALK at the same time.  Usually, for us mere mortals, this goes back to #1 above (following a pattern).
Happy KIP-ing and CIP-ing!*

*KIP = Knit in Public and CIP = Crochet in Public

Friday, May 20, 2011

Helpful Hint #1 - Selecting a pattern

Thought it might be fun to start putting down all the various tips that have helped me out over the years.

Hint #1 - Selecting a pattern.

I know everyone always tells you to pick out a pattern in relation to your individual skill set; but, honestly, if we all did this we would be knitting and crocheting scarves forever and would never get beyond the "easy/beginner" phase of our development.

My advice is this.  If you see a pattern in a magazine, in a book, or on-line somewhere and you instinctively gasp, "Oh my God!" (or in the words of my favorite coworker, "OH MY FRICKIN' GOD!!!"), then that's the pattern you should work on.  I don't care if the skill-level is "advanced" and the title contains the word "heirloom," it's still the pattern you must do.

Case in point - I've been searching feverishly for ages for a pattern to make my niece an afghan for Christmas.  I searched through the Patons Decor booklet All Seasons Afghans.  The afghan on the cover is a crocheted afghan, done in rows.  It's nice, and I could probably knock it off in my sleep.  HOWEVER, inside the booklet is a knitted afghan called "Autumn Stripes Afghan."  Yes, I took one look and said, "OH MY FRICKIN' GOD!!!"  Granted, it meets all the criteria for "step away slowly":

   a)  It's knitted in worsted weight yarn (Decor), so it's going to take ages to complete.  I'm probably going to still be knitting it on Christmas Eve, screaming, "I'm almost done!  I SWEAR!!!"

   b)  It contains colors I don't presently have in my stash, so I'm going to have to buy more yarn.  Okay, this isn't necessarily a hardship... 

   c)  It's got two-color knitting, which I've never attempted for something flat. 

But, it's GORGEOUS!  I just know my niece is going to love it.

So, this is the pattern I must use!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Baby Tree of Life Throw Done!

Now that the intended recipient has received this, I can post!

This is the Baby Tree of Life Throw, from the Lion Brand site.  It's a miniature version of the adult-sized Tree of Life Throw. 

I used Size 8 needles instead of the recommended Size 7, as I found I got gauge with 8.  I used Lion Brand's Pound of Love in Antique White, which was fine to work with.  I have a lot left over!

After consulting with some mothers, I decided to forgo the loops in the pattern and the eyelets in the border pattern. Instead, I did a cabled border and for the Flower Bed, I ended up going with a tulip pattern I found here:

It’s called “Bloom” by Lindy Meeker. I took the basic tulip design and multiplied it across the blanket.

The cable border came out nicely, but it took me the ages to do.  I sewed it onto the blanket as I went along, to save myself a lot of sewing at the end.  I then connected the ends of the border by kitchener stitch.

The recipient was overjoyed and plans to use it as a carriage/stroller blanket!