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Mama, wife, knitter, blogger, spinner, wannabe something or other. That's enough, right?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Knit & Crochet Blog Week: Day 2 - Tuesday

Day Two: Tuesday, 29th March. Skill + 1UP
Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

Tips: Don’t be abashed at admitting your own skill and progress. If possible, include pictures of projects that you gained new skills from.

I've been looking at my projects page and I've realized that either I don't finish objects as often as I think I do or I haven't put everything on said page. Personally, I think it's a little of column A and a little of column B...

Last year, I had just finished my first (and only) sweater (which I have yet to wash, actually - don't judge me!). That was my first experience with seaming, picking up stitches after binding off, three needle bind off, and making a fitted garment...and probably some other things that I'm having difficulty remembering right now. I had finished some hats in the round, as well. I was also busy with school...and I found out I was expecting Little Man last year on St. Patrick's Day.

In the last year, I have done several things, some of them "new" and some of them just better learned. I started working on socks properly. I had previously tried to make socks and wound up frogging my first sock because I couldn't remember what I was doing and I wasn't using a pattern. I finished my first pair of socks (which I never did a project page for), I finished a shawl for my "sister" for Christmas, I took my first knitting class in September (a sock knitting class with Carol Rhoades at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool), a couple of test knits for other designers, finished up some UFOs, and started exercising my designing muscle. I don't think I've really learned anything "new" as far as techniques for knitting but I have been working on problem-solving things like gauge (especially in the round) and how to join new yarns without weirdness. I do love a good spit-splice...but that only works if the yarn is mostly animal fiber and not superwash.

But, in the last year, I have learned two new things with regards to my fiber love. I have learned to spin...and not with a drop spindle. I mean, I have a drop spindle (pseudo-Turkish drop spindle, actually) but I never did very well with it. In early February, I bought a Majacraft Pioneer spinning wheel (which I have yet to photograph - boo on me!). I have spun two full bobbins of 100% superwash merino and have plied both bobbins (2-ply). They are currently skeined up, waiting for me to properly photograph them. I have one skein of approximately 116 yards and the other has something like 150 yards. They both ended up being thick-n-thin yarn that is common among new spinners but they both came out about worsted weight when plied. I'm still spinning more of the same roving onto the third bobbin. I haven't spun for a couple of weeks but I did ply during those couple of weeks...that counts as spinning, right?

I said I learned two new things, right? ::going back to check:: Yes, two new things. I already talked about my wheel and my spinning prowess (in the words of Dr. Martha Jones, "I am good" - yes, that was a random Doctor Who reference). I have also taught myself to crochet. I mean, I can't go reading patterns and making a bunch of new things but I've learned the basic stitches.

When I originally started knitting a decade ago, I actually started with crochet first. I didn't see how I was going to be able to work two needles at once. So, I started out with the hook. I bought a HUGE hook, the biggest one I could find (mistake) and some Lion Brand Homespun (bigger mistake), and a Learn To Crochet book from Wal*Mart (biggest mistake) and tried to teach myself. Let's just say that it didn't go well. I think disaster is a better word for it.

First of all, Lion Brand Homespun is not the yarn to learn to crochet on...or knit, for that matter. And using a big hook may not have been a good idea, either. And a book from Wal*Mart...what the hell was I thinking?

Anyway, I think the directions were bunk because my piece kept getting more trapezoidal shaped as I went on. Also, I couldn't see my stitches properly so I wound up going into partial stitches. Think "putting the hook in between the plies of a yarn" and you'll get the, stitches were dropped or half done or not done at all. Remember the part about the really big hook? That didn't help. My stitches turned out teeny tiny. Yarn tension issues? No idea...but probably.

So...I tried a different yarn. It was some Red Heart Super Saver that I had laying around (which has since vacated my property). Same problems...except for splitting the yarn. That didn't happen. But my stitches were still teeny tiny...

Anyway, I put the hook down and didn't touch it again until a couple weeks ago.

I was watching one of the local PBS stations...the Create Channel. They have a show called Knit & Crochet Now and I was watching it one Sunday morning as Husband slept in and Little Man took a nap on me. They were working on a crocheted square for an Afghan and I kept thinking, "That looks so easy; why couldn't I do that again?"

I still waited a few weeks before I picked up a crochet hook again.

Within the last couple of years, we moved into my grandparents' house (yes, there's a point to this story)...which I will either inherit outright as soon as probate is done or it will go into a trust until January 2015 (when I turn 35). Anyway, I've been cleaning out the house for the last three or so years. I came across an old jar in the silverware drawer (the nice silverware - the stuff we used for holidays that needed to be polished each time) had almost all my grandmother's old crochet hooks. She did the teeeeeeeeny tiny stuff because the hooks were extremely tiny. I knew she crocheted but I had never found any evidence other than FOs (mostly doilies...we had a lot of those). I don't think she crocheted at all during my lifetime...sewing, yes...crocheting or knitting, no.

Suddenly, I had hooks to use......and no desire to use them (at the time). And then I watched that show and figured that I could do that. So, I did. I picked up a book called The Knitting and Crochet Bible. With that book and the help of You Tube, I learned how to actually do a proper single crochet. I figured out why my piece slowly became narrower and more trapezoidal shaped and where to crochet and then I learned how to do the double crochet...and the triple crochet...and I think I learned a few other types of crochet stitches, too.

No tension problems either.

Why the hell couldn't I crochet? Oh yeah, because I'm an idiot. If I can knit, I can crochet. It's not that difficult.

Sooooooo....yes. I've learned new things, I've perfected old things, and I'm working on other new things.

And really, you can do cables in crochet?! I'm going to have to learn how to do that...


  1. Cables are easy in crochet! Although I haven't done them in awhile and oh how jealous I am about your grandmother's hooks! I have some old crochet magazines with my grandmother's name on them, but that is it...

  2. I chuckled. I'm really enjoying your blog week posts

  3. Awww when I was a child I had no interest in learning anything about crafts... "What a crochet hook? - Would of been a typical answer from me". LOL now I'm a self taught monster... Loved your story... I have my Granny's knitting needles...

  4. What a treat to find a jarful of crochet hooks! A great story for sure!