Monday, June 27, 2011

Easy Striped Summer Tee Done!

At long last, I finally have completed a "Summer" WIP in time to wear it during the Summer!

This is from the Plymouth Yarns pattern #1601. It was very easy and all in garter stitch. I used Plymouth Kudo yarn, which is a blend of Silk, Cotton, and Rayon. I used Size 8 circular needles.

Thankfully, it fits me just right.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Helpful Hint #6: Is this yarn a good deal?

…or, they should really teach this sort of thing in Calculus.

Did you, like me, tear your hair out in school over the following:

“Jimmy is traveling by train, going 80 mph, and Suzie is traveling by car, going 55 mph. Jimmy is 100 miles from their motel and Suzie is 50 miles from the same point. How many minutes will it take each to reach…”

And people wonder why our children have no math skills.

Instead, they should be giving our young entrepreneurs of tomorrow word problems like THIS:

Brand Name Yarn is on sale at your LYS for $5.99 a skein. It is also advertised on your favorite on-line site for $6.99 – this is the cheapest you’ve been able to find on-line.

Shipping for the on-line site, if you buy 10 skeins: $5.99

Your LYS is 10 miles away. Your car is currently getting 24 miles to the gallon, thanks to the A/C, and gas is running at $4 a gallon. So, $.17 * 10 = $1.70. Oh, and tax (if your state taxes yarn at 6%) would be roughly $3.60.

LYS total = $65.20 and the On-line Site = $75.89.

Even if you get some sort of on-line deal to waive shipping, you’d still end up paying $69.90 for the on-line option. So, in this particular instance, the LYS wins out, hands-down.

This is the sort of thing I figure out every time I try to decide where to buy my yarn. Sometimes the LYS wins, sometimes an on-line site wins—depending on the price/shipping/gas/tax combination.

Of course, there are a myriad of other variables to consider:
1) The aggravation of driving vs. getting yarn delivered right to the door.
2) The actual driving cost is actually higher, when you figure wear-and-tear to the car.
3) Do you want the instant gratification of getting your yarn RIGHT AWAY?
4) Do you need a particular color that your LYS may or may not carry, which would necessitate a special order and ANOTHER car trip back again to pick it up?

Of course, there is also the most important issue facing us all (yarnsters and non-yarnsters alike)…do you want to support your local business?

And, also, is Jimmy’s girlfriend Marsha aware that Jimmy and Suzie are messing around behind her back?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Helpful Hint #5: Tips for Arm/Wrist/Thumb Strain and Tendonitis

I first contracted tendonitis, not by knitting or crocheting, but by scooping ice cream, of all things—I was working at a summer job. My right wrist was in agony for a very long time. I ended up having to get a cortisone shot just so I could pass my driving test that summer.

Years later, at work as a developer, it flared up again—this time in both wrists. This time, the culprit was too much typing at a workstation that wasn’t ergonomically correct. That was back when ergonomics was first a hot issue, so the minute I called personnel I had someone at my workstation within the hour. Again, it took a very long time to get over that particular bout.

Imagine my shock years later to discover that my favorite new hobbies, knitting and crocheting, also aggravated my tendonitis…

After much trial and error, I finally hit upon a strategy for dealing with my condition.

First of all, I get medical attention, which I strongly recommend to anyone who is having any sort of strain from knitting and crocheting. I’ve been lucky, in that I haven’t required any surgery for my condition, but everyone is different. I’ve had physical therapy off and on over the years, which seems to work fine for me.


1) In general, I take frequent breaks—especially when crocheting. My rule of thumb is to knit or crochet for 15 minutes, then rest for 15 minutes, alternatively. This works especially well if you’re watching TV, as you can time your breaks for the commercial breaks and keep track that way!

2) When I have a nasty flair-up, I use one of those firmer wrist braces at night and a more flexible one during the day (Futuro puts out good ones–you can get them either online or in the drug store). Now that the tendonitis has spread to my thumb (too much texting), I wear one of those flexible thumb splints for daytime activities, again by Futuro.

3) I changed the setup on my laptop at work so that I now mouse on the left-hand side of my workstation (if you’re left-handed, do the opposite). It took a good three days to get used to the change, but overall, the incidence of flair-ups has decreased dramatically.

And, most importantly—REST!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Helpful Hint #4 – Pack all the essentials you need for each WIP into each bag

In honor of World Wide Knit in Public Day (Saturday, June 11, 2011), I thought it might be good to have a word about take along projects and supplies…

Take the rubber band off the money and invest in all the essentials you need for each WIP and pack them into each separate bag. This may seem like a lot of money and redundancy, but believe me, it’s worth it.

In the past, I found that I was constantly bringing projects out in public, minus some crucial tool. I’d be out somewhere happily knitting a sweater sleeve, when suddenly I’d come across a knot in the skein, which necessitated cutting the yarn. You guessed it – no scissors or any device of any kind with which I could cut wool, and depending on the wool, sometimes you can’t really break it manually. Another time, I was at the allergist’s office. I had come prepared with a baby blanket that I was crocheting for Project Linus. I was all set to wait 30-40 minutes for my allergist to get his act together and get through all 20 people still sitting in the waiting room (I had the distinct feeling that little “Jimmy” in the corner with the wheezing and sniffles was going to take a while), when I opened my bag and made a horrible discovery…

I had brought the WRONG crochet hook!

So, this is why I’m now a great proponent of being prepared with every conceivable tool needed for each project. You don’t need to break the bank – just go out to your local discount or dollar store and stock up. The one thing I don’t skimp on is the row counters. I like to get the little barrel ones that you can either attach to a straight needle or hang off a circular needle. Or if you’re one of the idle rich, get a bunch of those cute little “Knit Kits.” See for details…you can find them at the LYS or on-line.

Happy Knit in Public Day!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Helpful Hint #3 - For Take Along projects, avoid needles that make noise of any kind.

If you are going to have a traveling project that you work on during an event, where you are supposed to be quiet, this is a necessity. The worst offenders are aluminum straight needles. They do have a tendency to click-click-click as you are knitting. To us knitters, this is music to our ears. To mere earthlings this is, at the very least, annoying—to others, it’s akin to nails scratching on a chalkboard. No one is going to be able to concentrate on the event. The non-knitters in the audience (or congregation) are going to want to kill you; while the knitters will be shoving people (read: impediments) to one side, craning their heads to see what you are working on. There will, of course, be RESENTMENT, as they didn’t think to bring a project to the event themselves.

The simplest way to avoid this would be to just crochet; but again, you would still have to worry about dropping an aluminum hook on the floor. These, and aluminum needles, make the loudest noise if you accidentally drop them—don’t ask how I know this or how many times I’ve repeated the same mistake, thinking that “this time will be different.” I always tell myself that THIS TIME I’m going to be very careful…it’s always inevitable, too, that the one place you are going to drop a needle or hook is onto a hardwood floor. If there is carpeting, you will miraculously carry on without so much as a near-miss. Sometimes, the best idea is to use circular needles, even for back-and-forth knitting, so that you won’t drop a needle.

This is, of course, a perfect excuse to proceed directly to the nearest yarn store. Bamboo or wooden needles don’t make a noise. My all-time favorite, Addi Turbos, don’t make a noise. I know people balk at the price of Addis, but honestly, just weigh any cost against the prospect of dying of boredom during an event because you don’t want to bring noisy implements. Besides, they aren’t too expensive if you buy them at the rate of one per project.

Okay, some of us do more than one project at a time…LOL.