Improving Your Skillset

Day 6: April 28, 2012. Improving Your Skillset
How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how’s your intarsia? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills which you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you’d like to have tried them by.

Phew! After the amount of work that was Day 5, Day 6 should be comparatively easy. I mean, I don’t have to hunch over my photo setup, making minute adjustments – I shot at least 1400 frames, plus a few still, plus all that time music editing – so I ‘just’ have to take a few pictures, and write. I first thought that blogging really takes a lot of time, particularly blogging about a specific topic. I tend to take a lot of time taking photographs and crafting my posts… but this, this has been the most challenging part of any blog post that I’ve put up since I’ve had this blog (granted, this blog is just over a year old, but still)…

So, today talks about skills. I kind of talked about skills I’d like to acquire in last year’s post, so lets review how my goals measure up to my actual achievements. Hmmmm…..

I definitely want to want to try my hand at colorwork (I’m thinking of Spillyjane’s Swedish socks here), improve my sweater fitting skills, try beaded lace knitting, and maybe even dare to tackle my first steek (yikes!).

Well, I have certainly knit  a whole bunch of projects since last year – 39 to be exact. That includes 11 hats, 8 shawls, 4 pairs of baby booties and 5 different children’s toys. There are three items of clothing in there:

Yup, all three items of clothing are for kids. Not a one for an adult. But apart from the cardigan for a girl, they were already in the planning last year – I had already ordered the buttons and showed them off in last year Knitting and Crochet Blog Week’s embellishment’s post. I did make a few modifications to the dress and the baby cardigan – you’ll find more information on those on the individual pattern pages.

See? I did do some shaping work! I’m planning to knit a cardigan for my Mom, and for my sister (both Connie Chang Chinchio patterns), so there are two opportunities for garment shaping right there (plus I can knit a matching baby Austin hoodie for my sister’s kiddo!).

As for colorwork – well, I still haven’t knit the Swedish Fish socks – yet. Maybe I’ll knit them during this summer’s Ravelympics. For all of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m talking about the 2012 Ravelympics games where people knit/crochet simultaneously along to the Olympics, competing in our own categories. Really, it’s lots of fun. Anyway, I’ve seen awesome versions of the Swedish Fish socks where the fish charts are used to make awesome versions as sweaters or vests, too. So that’s on my to do list, but I have made a pair of fingerless mitts that have been well received.

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On to the next goal: Beaded lace knitting. Yeah, that hasn’t happened. It’s in the plans, but other wips have been intruding. You know, people having babies. People needing birthday gifts. People getting married. That kind of stuff that interfers with your wip list. Plus the occasional knitalong, and if there’s a pattern that catches your attention and you just HAVE to knit it right then and there yes, Color Affection, I’m looking at you!) I do have beads, and the matching yarn, plus the pattern – Haruni – or maybe Simurgh? – already planned out…

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Steeking. Eeek!!!! Yeah, I haven’t yet done that yet. I mean, who would feel good about cutting their knitting? But it’s such a great skill – makes it way easier to knit cardigans, or you can steek armholes and so on and on. It’s a skill I definitely want to acquire, and I think I have a good idea how to acquire it. I came across this awesome Missoni inspired chevron blanket pattern. Well, I’d originally bought Wollmeise Lace in a few different shades of red to create an ombre effect blanket, but now I’m thinking I’ll make the blanket with those different shades of red, plus black and white and grey thrown in too. And to make my life easier, I think I’ll knit the blanket in the round, and then just steek it in the end. That way I’ll hopefully be finished this decade. Now I just have to decide whether to hold the lace single or double….

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Given that I have enough on my plate – my queue is 43 pages long – I really don’t need to add other goals. Sooner or later I’ll come across a pattern or design that requires a new skill or a new technique, and I guess I’ll have to decide whether to sink or swim.

So that’s it for today. It’s almost tomorrow, and then I’ll have a post on my crafting balance. And then this year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week will be over. Wow, this week has flown by!

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shroom, shroom

Another gift for my little munchkin nephew. The pattern is Purl Soho’s Toadstool Baby Rattle pattern, and it makes such a cute little baby gift. You can easily whip it up in an afternoon, and it’s easy to customize – you can use self-striping yarn,make polka dots through double stitch, and create patterns through the use of different yarn colors.
toadstool baby rattle
I didn’t add the cat toy rattle, instead I wedged three jingle bells next to each other, surrounded by stuffing, and that did the trick. The rattle jingles nicely, but it’s not too loud for a little newborn – or for parents. One of the most annoying thing about children’s toys is that so many of them are really repetitively loud – the kind that make the same noise over and over and really gets on parents nerves. I mean, who really needs a toy that makes loud hammering and ratcheting noises, when you know the kid will make all those on his own? You start to have an amalgam of loud toys and loud toddler noises. I still maintain that toddler noises reach the same decibel range of airplanes. Ok, maybe that’s exaggerated. But really, there’s no need for annoyingly loud and repetitive toys. You’ll hear enough repetitive kid favorite animated and puppet character theme songs to have them memorized quickly. (I already know the themes for Curious George, Olivia, and Elmo, sigh).

Ok, rant over. So really, it is a very cute gift that the kid, the toddler, and the parent can all enjoy.

Elijah

I bet you’re asking yourself – where is all the knitting? After all I’ve been putting up a bunch of pictures and craft related posts. But I’ve still been knitting – not a lot as you can see in last month’s knitting yardage, but I do have some FOs to post.

Meet Elijah:

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Elijah

He’s a present for my friend Aarti’s baby, Arjun. Elephants are a symbol of luck in India, particularly elephants with a raised trunk. To make the trunk flexible, I inserted pipe cleaners wrapped with stuffing. That way the trunk can be bent into any shape desired, and it’ll stay up way better than blocking the trunk into shape.

I used Rowan Pima Cotton DK – a lovely soft cotton yarn that can easily be washed over and over again, which can be expected with a baby toy. And I used felt circles for the eyes – I’ve never been happy with the result of french knots as eyes. I’d also recommend to be careful with stuffing the limbs – if they’re overstuffed they’ll only point away from the body and Elijah will have a hard time sitting. So the join to the body should only be stuffed lightly.

I’ve knitted two other Ysolda toy patterns in the past – an Otto polar bear and a Sophie bunny – but this one was my favorite. I had a hard time parting with it. Fortunately I have enough yarn for another Elijah. Then again I’ve already received requests for another Elijahs. Decisions, decisions…

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Elijah up close

Hello Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011!!!

2011 Eskimi Knits

Woohoo! I’m excited! So let’s move on to the main event. Today’s topic is:

Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

First I thought I would post about my love of Wollmeise. I just love the colors. I first got hooked on Wollmeise when I saw the color Rhabarber in someone’s stash. Rhabarber translates into rhubarb, and I love rhubarb – rhubarb pie, rhubarb and strawberry jam, rhubarb compote, and so on. Anyway, I’ve knit some beautiful projects out of that yarn, including one of my favorites, a little shawlette that just pops thanks to it’s color (colorway is Stella Polaris):

Azzu's shawl knit out of Wollmeise in Stella Polaris

Azzuro

But then I decided to post two other favorites of mine – both dyed by indie dyers.

Yarn #1: Yarn Chef Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is her light fingering weight. The colorway is Kelp Beds, self-striping, and boy, these colors just glow. The yarn is soft but holds up well as a sock yarn. She has a number of different bases, and she really dyes up beautiful semisolids, but also gorgeous self-striping yarns.

Kelp Gardens

Yarn Chef Bouillabaisse in Kelp Gardens

What more can I say – gorgeous colors, gorgeous yarn, and I knit super delicious socks out the yarn.

Colorway: Yarn Chef Bouillabaisse in Kelb Beds

Monterrey socks knit out of Yarn Chef Bouillabaisse

Yarn #2: Sundara sock yarn (also not unknown in the world of knitting, I know)

Sundara sock yarn

Sundara sock yarn in Aqua over Limeade

This is another yarn I’ve really enjoyed knitting with. It’s sturdy and works up beautifully. I like this base better than her Aran Silky Merino. The color showed up beautifully in a scarf I knit (and which was immediately claimed by my Mom):

Aqua over Limeade scarf

A cool drink (aka Haruha scarf)

Honorable mentions go to Mama Blue yarns (unfortunately she has stopped dyeing), Hedgehog Fibres, and, surprise surprise, a great workhorse yarn for knitted toys – Patons Dk. I know, it might come as a surprise since I’m a bit of a yarn snob, but how can I not mention the yarn that resulted in this mobile for my nephew?

Shaun the Sheep Mobile

The sheep clan up close

Shaun the Sheep mobile

Shaun the Sheep and company, suspended

So, that’s it for today. If you’re interested in more of my knitting shenanigans, you can find me on Ravelry, username anji. And if you’re interested in seeing other posts on the topic ‘A Tale of Two Yarns’ from other bloggers who’ll be blogging today on this topic, just search on Google (or another search engine) for the tag 2KCBWDAY1.

And thanks go to Google Chrome and WordPress for almost eating my post but then allowing for a draft to show up. Phew!