Saturday, April 28, 2007

Part 2: tips for following a loom (or needle) knit pattern

In part 1, I discussed the tools that I use to keep track of my progress in a pattern while I'm knitting. Today's post also contains tools, but more tools for the brain. I've learned that some patterns, while written correctly, require a little tweaking in order for me to remember the pattern more easily. A better memory of the pattern requires less reading and knitting at the same time and a faster project in all.

So, the first trick I use is breaking down the pattern into steps. This only really works if the pattern is a simple repeat and isn't many, many rows long. I guess you could write out a longer pattern, but it becomes more tedious then helpful - I would think.

While working this project (on the left) I was working in a Michaels store as a demo for an upcoming knitting class. While the pattern is easy enough, it becomes difficult when you have to start and stop and answer questions for customers walking by.

The solution: I made index cards out of each pattern row. Since there were only four rows it wasn't a big deal. I numbered each card (really just a scrap of paper) with it's row number in case a curious child decided to shuffle them or a breeze knocked them off the table. Also on the card was each pattern row written out.

While knitting I would knit the first index card. After I finished that row, I would flip the stack to the next card. After finishing that row, I'd flip the deck to the next...and so on. So now customers could ask a bunch of questions and I wouldn't get lost. Some even asked about the card flipping!

Another trick I use is "rewriting" or "rechunking" (as I like to think of it) the pattern repeats in order to make it more easy to remember. In the same shawl pattern pictured above I rewrote the 2nd pattern row. It was correct in the pattern but hard for me to remember without reading and re-reading while I knit across.

As written, it goes *k1, yo, k2tog (repeat from *) or knit 1, yarn over, knit 2 together, repeat across the row. Since this same pattern has in the 4rth row basically the same thing without the k1 in between, I kept forgetting to k1 on this row. My shawl kept getting screwed up and I was getting frustrated.

So, I "rechunked" the pattern row to be: k1 *yo, k2tog, k1 (repeat from *).

Now, granted this may not work for everyone. When I knit I find there is always a natural pause in a pattern. In this pause I can look around, answer a question, take a drink...etc - without getting lost or have to recount stitches to find my place. I know where I stopped because it makes sense in my head. If the natural pause comes at the end of the pattern repeat as it's written...great! I can follow it no problem. Here, the natural pause in the pattern was after the k1 - which I kept forgetting. I moved the k1 to the end of the repeat and it stuck. I could knit the repeat and not get screwed up. As long as the "rechunked" repeat comes out the same as the old one, it'll work fine.

That's it for part 2. I hope some of this is of use and helpful 'cause there is one last post to go :)

With that, I'll leave you with a gratuitous picture of the cat. He doesn't make my blog enough and is oh so cute. Say hello Yakko!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Spring fever and more must-make's

I love reading the craftzine blog. I always come away with at least 1 thing that I want to make. Well, today I found 2. They are now on my "Things I want to Make" list:

#1 - Knitted Espadrilles made from recycled flip flops. If I had some old flip flops I'd make these RIGHT THIS SECOND!

Thank you, Ms. Casey, for sharing your pattern!

I see from her bio that she's a fellow Mainer, too. I will need to add her blog to my blog fav's, stat!

#2 - The second must-make is the rag rug. This is a no brainer...since even though we just moved and got rid of a bunch of old clothing, I'm sure I can find something to cut up. And, we still need some rugs in the new apartment.

Even though I don't crochet that much, this looks like an easy enough project. Can't wait to give it a whirl.

Thank you, Vintage Chica! Your tutorial is wonderful!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Part 1: tips for following a loom (or needle) knit pattern

So I've read many comments on the yahoo loom knitting group message boards and in my own loomknittingdesigns inbox from people that are either:
  1. intimidated to try a more advanced pattern
  2. frustrated at following the more advanced pattern, or
  3. following the pattern is ok but its hard to pick up and put down and still know where the heck you are
So, with this in mind, I thought I'd serve up a little slice of what I've learned about following patterns. I'll be doing this over a three part series of posts. The topic for this first post is "The Tools". So, without further 'splainin...

1. The Tools
Following patterns used to be intimidating when I was a new knitter. Long strings of knitting abbreviations made my brain shutdown and my palms sweat. Until you get a handle on the abbreviations themselves, they look like Greek. And before you get the hang of following pattern repeats it's a lot of looking back and forth between pegs or needles and the printed pattern and trying to read and knit at the same time. Not fun!

Well, an easy trick to help here is writing. The only things you'll need for this tip are a print out or photocopy of the original pattern and a pencil. This is a useful tip from many perspectives. For one, your original pattern doesn't get beat up from being carried around in your knitting bag and two, you can write on the copy and mark it up without worrying about messing up the pattern for later use.

While knitting one of my latest knits "The Bed of Roses" shawl, I had a print out and a pencil. As I knitted I made notes, crossed off rows as I completed them, and made hash marks as I went to count off repeats. This helped me keep track of where I was in the pattern and gave me a visual que as to how far I had to go.
This can also be done using a row counter (pictured on the right), but I find marking on the pattern itself a bit easier when following a complicated stitch pattern. I mostly use row counters to do simple counting of rows or to record what number row I just completed. The latter method helps when you have to start and stop a pattern in the middle of a repeat, for example.

Another useful tool is the row marker (pictured on the left). Row markers are used for many things. I've used them to mark shifts in pattern rows, beginnings or endings in pattern repeats/increases/decreases, and marking length measurements as I knit. Sometimes a pattern will tell you to place a row marker and sometimes they don't. Row markers may take a bit of practice to know when they will be a useful addition and when they'll just get in your way.

That's it for Part 1! Two more to come so stay tuned. If anyone has a specific question on anything here or a tool that I didn't cover, leave me a comment and I'll address it in a future posting.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Some FO's and other finds

I realized this morning that I hadn't posted the "finished" pics of my Brea bag. This is mostly because I'm STILL waiting for the darn handle from MJ Trimmings. I bought the handle that the pattern called for mostly because I loved how it looked with the finished bag. The texture combination was very nice. But, now I'm stuck waiting for a back ordered handle and my Brea bag is handle-less. So sad. So here it is....waiting. I can't wait to use it! I'll update you when the handle has arrived and is attached.

In other news, I've finished a simple little loom knitting pattern for a garter stitch hat and scarf set. This will be a super cheap pattern (or free...I haven't really decided) on my website. It'll be a super easy beginner pattern with all the basic stitches. I don't have many beginner patterns, so this one will fit that niche.

In this post I also thought I'd tell you about some podcasts I've recently become addicted to. For some reason, even though I've had an Ipod for several years now, I've never gotten into listening to podcasts on my Ipod. I've always listened to them on my computer through Itunes. I think now that we don't have a TV in the house (we sold ours in the move), I'm listening to more radio and surfing the web more. Podcasts are a good way to have entertainment ready and waiting when you want it. I like to listen to podcasts on Sunday morning, while knitting...of course.

So, I have a couple new favorites that I've found that center around knitting. I'm still discovering them so if anyone knows of any other good ones, please share! The first one I've found is called "Stash and Burn". This podcast is about needle knitting and is hosted by two friends that have such a good time while doing each episode it makes it fun and engaging to listen to. I've gone back and listened to all the old episodes and can't wait every week to get the latest. They have a link on the website to subscribe to the podcast and it's free. If you already have Itunes, just open the Itunes store and search for "stash and burn" and it'll come up.

Another one I've gotten into listening to is "Unwound". It's a bit cheesy (especially the intro), but the content is informative and the format is engaging. She has a caller question of the week that is different then other podcasts I've heard and it's a great way to get listeners involved in the show. This is also a good one.

And the third and final podcast I've been listening to is called "Sticks and String". I like this one because it's a guy that knits and talks about knitting from a male perspective. (I don't know why more men don't knit!). The host has a great voice (and accent) to listen to and his show is filled with good information.

So these are the podcasts I'd personally recommend. As I've said I've listened to these and have become a regular subscriber. There are many more available through Itunes, and I'm sure there are many more good ones. I'm adding them to my playlist, as I mentioned before, if anyone has any personal favorites they'd like to share...shoot it my way!

Monday, April 02, 2007

An important new addition's a chair.

This isn't just any chair, though. It's the most important chair in our new house. Greg may disagree...but this is THE place to sit. It's my new knitting chair!

We got rid of the old one when we moved. It was pretty old and ratty. It had been given to me by a friend of my mom's years ago and it was time to retire the the poor thing. I just don't think it could have made it across the country yet again. We ended up taking it to Goodwill in Boulder. Hopefully someone else is knitting in that same chair....wishful, I know.

Anyway, this NEW chair is fantabulous! We got it from Ikea in Stoughton, MA. Not close but worth the trip for a cheap and comfy new knitting spot.

I'm already working on a new loom knitting pattern! Stay tuned in April...since it's pretty complicated, it'll probably be the end of April, unfortunately.

Below is the chair in our new place (you can see it's already surrounded by knitting). The rug under the chair we also bought on the same day. Ikea rocks!

PS: sorry for the bad pic. It's dark and I don't get home til the sun goes down :(