Thursday, June 29, 2006

What kind of yarn am I?

A couple of years ago, a friend brought this quiz to my attention. I took the quiz and was delighted with the result. Recently, I rediscovered my printout, and I wondered if the quiz was still available. Well, I found it (since everything lives forever on the Internet), took it again and got the same result! Here it is:

What kind of yarn are you?

You are Shetland Wool. You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a little on the harsh side. Though you look delicate you are tough as nails and prone to intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you are widely respected and even revered.
Take this quiz!

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Knit Alongs

I always thought that I was Internet and computer savvy. After all, I work at a library that can't afford a true systems administrator (despite having a fairly sophisticated network complete with a server running our own domain). For years, I have been on the "Computer Point Committee" that helps troubleshoot the computers, and because of that, I have received a fair amount of training in computers. I can "ping" with the best of them, and I even know what "subnet masking" is.

But then I started blogging! Now I know that I have barely scratched the surface of what I need to know about the Internet. We are fortunate at the library to have volunteers design and run our homepage who are professionals (even though they donate their efforts to us), so I have never had to learn html, at least until now. My goal is to give myself a crash course in html during July, so that I can improve the look of the blog.

I also had no idea how creatively people were using their blogs to connect with others. Sure, I have been reading some political blogs for the past few years, and I check in with Dee almost every day to see what she is up to (since I only see her once or twice a month at guild meetings). But until I starting blogging, and really looking around the Internet to see what other knitters and crocheters were up to, I had never heard about knitalongs, and forums, and swaps. I had no idea what I was missing!

I'm still not sure how some of my fellow bloggers keep up with everything they're involved with, but I can understand how easy it is to want to get involved. Since this has become my summer of turning UFOs into FOs, I am trying to stay focused, but I keep thinking I should join Project Finishknit, since that is exactly what I am doing. I have already joined Whoduknit, and I have to admit that Knit the Classics is also tempting (but would I really get the books read?). Then along comes Bitchin' Mittens. If I ever get my Fair Isle hat done, the next step is to knit the mittens that go along with it. After all, I have enough yarn already. So we will have to see. But don't be surprised if my collection of buttons begins to grow over the next few months!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Maisie Dobbs

So, we went to the movies last night and saw A Prairie Home Companion, which I would highly recommend. However, that means that I didn't get much knitting done. But I realized that joining Whoduknit means that I can now justify incorporating my love of mysteries into this blog, so I thought this morning that I would talk a little bit about the mystery I finished reading over the weekend.

The book I finished this weekend is called Pardonable Lies, and it is the 3rd in the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. The books are set in Britain after World War I and feature a very interesting and unusual young woman. Maisie was born into the servent class but received an education ( the backstory to this series is fairly complicated, so I won't go into any more detail here) and then served as a nurse in France during the war. After the war, she decides to put her talents to use by opening a private detective agency. Of course the books focus on some of her cases. Maisie is intuitive almost, but not quite, to the point of being psychic, so she is one of the most interesting characters I have ever encountered in a mystery series. I also enjoy mysteries set just after World War I (Charles Todd is another author who comes to mind in this category). It must have been a very emotional time, especially in Europe, so authors have a lot to draw on in their writing.

Of course, joining Whoduknit has also gotten me thinking about possible projects that would coincide with the books I am reading. Maisie is very efficient and practical, even in her dress, so my first thought was a plain, sturdy cardigan, possibly with raglan sleeves, but in a very rich, earthy color, like chocolate brown. But then I read a little farther, and a wealthy friend of Maisie's, who is not so practical, buys her a very expensive and fashionable outfit. The outfit includes a light blue cashmere wrap that I now can't get out of my mind. It would cost a fortune, but it would be so much fun to knit up!

Monday, June 26, 2006

New (to me) Craft Sites

Whew, what a busy weekend! My husband's parents are celebrating their 60th anniversary this week, so my bil & sil and their son arrived on Saturday to go out to dinner with the family and then stay over before going home on Sunday. We had a lovely dinner at a local restaurant Saturday night, but I can tell you that by the time everyone left Sunday morning, I was exhausted. I spent yesterday doing some laundry, some knitting, and some reading, and not much else!

So our nephew still lives in Philadelphia, where he went to art school, and he is still tied in to the art world there. Over the weekend, he told me about two craft sites I wasn't aware of but which I checked out this morning. One is called Plain Mabel and the other is called Etsy. Both sites help artists and crafters sell their finished products. They look like they will be a great source of inspiration, and don't you know, they also sell hand-dyed yarn! I will definitely be visiting these sites often.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday Morning Eye Candy

I seem to be a little tired this morning, so I thought I would just post a few links to lace designers I have found while looking around the web. The first two are incorporating knitted lace into their designs. I just found Heart Strings Fiber Arts this morning, so I don't know much about the company, but the designs look scrumptious. A friend recommended Fiddlesticks Knitting to me a few months ago, and I purchased a couple of her patterns. I can tell you that the charts from Fiddlesticks Knitting are large and very easy to follow. I started one of the Whisper Scarves, but unfortunately, after about 60 rows, I made a mistake and ended up ripping the whole thing out. I have since learned about "lifelines" while knitting lace, so I will start the scarf again after I finish up a few other projects. I just love the way she incorporates some Russian motifs in the scarves. Finally, for the crocheters, check out Hass Designs. He has some beautiful crocheted lace patterns, as well as online classes. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More UFOs!

So yesterday was a not so good day. I had one last 1/2 vacation day to use up before July 1st, so I didn't have to go to work until 4:30, but then I spent the day not feeling very well, which is just the worst way to spend vacation time. On top of that, I took the car in for its 30,000 mile check up, which ended up costing over $300. I'm glad there was nothing really wrong with it! So I didn't work on the Master Knitting Program or much of anything else all day.

However, we are having overnight guests Saturday nig
ht, and one of them needs to sleep in my yarn room (otherwise known as the guest bedroom). I keep trying to clean up in there, which isn't easy when my stash is so out of control. But as I moved bags of yarn around yesterday, I rediscovered two more projects that I never finished. I did work a bit on both of them yesterday, so hopefully I will get these done too. One is a knitted tunic sweater. I am using Plymouth Encore again (I really should buy stock in the company - I use their yarn so often!) and a pattern from Catherine Ham's book 25 Gorgeous Sweaters for the Brand New Knitter. Most of the sweater is done in stockinette stitch, so it gets a little boring to do, but I think it will be comfortable to wear once it is done. I really like the ribbing on the bottom. One row is all knit, the next row is K1P1, and the effect is unique.

The second UFO is a knitted tank top that has an interesting knitted-in edging around the armholes, which I am unfortunately not up to yet. I am using Sonata, a cotton yarn from and a pattern from Cabin Fever. I really like using cotton yarn in the summer, but then again, I would like to wear this top in summer, so I haven't worked out that dilemma yet! I will try to have it finished for vacation in September, I think. I am still working on the backs of both UFOs, so it will be a while before they get finished, but it was nice to rediscover both of them yesterday.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Cat Who Saw Stars Book Review

Working in a public library, I find that books cross my path or fall into my lap at interesting times. For example, just as I started blogging, I noticed a Lillian Jackson Braun book from a few years ago with a ball of yarn and a knitting needle on the cover. I just had to investigate! Sure enough, the "knitting craze" features prominently in the novel. I think it is interesting that we think of the current interest in knitting and crocheting as something new, but this novel was written in 1998, so apparently the "current" interest has been around for a while now.

I'm not sure I would recommend The Cat Who Saw Stars to anyone who is not a fan of the series, though. The cats (2 Siamese for the uninitiated) are adorable, and one of them does assist in the investigation. But the book meanders through its storyline without ever really accomplishing anything. By the end of the book, you know who killed the man who dies in the middle of the book, but the death of the first person to go missing is never explained. As far as knitting is concerned, there are no patterns or yarns discussed. Two of the characters do knit in the book, and one even makes money from her knitting (by selling items at a boutique in a summer resort town). She also figures prominently in the solving of the mystery.

So, my bottom line is that The Cat Who Saw Stars is a fun little read for summer, and the knitting theme is a pleasant added bonus. But if you are looking for a real murder mystery to sink your teeth into, look elsewhere than Lillian Jackson Braun.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Weekend Accomplishment

Well, the weather is getting hotter here in Connecticut. We caught a break on Saturday, though, with some unexpected rain, so I had a chance to get the laundry and housework caught up while it was still cool. That left me Sunday to be creative. I hid in my family room in the basement from the heat, and here is the result of my endeavors:

I have been working on this sweater off and on for the last 2 years. I used a pattern from the book Crocheted Aran Sweaters by Jane Peever and Plymouth Encore yarn. This is going to be a warm sweater. There is so much yarn in it that it practically stands up by itself! Actually, all I had left to do yesterday afternoon was sew in the sleeves and finish seaming the sides and underarms. I am very pleased with how this sweater turned out, and I will be submitting it to Craft Adventure next month.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

New blog has new name

If anyone was interested in the blog I mentioned last week - The Killer Knitalong - it has a new name as of this weekend. It is now called Whoduknit Knitalong and can be found here.

Friday, June 16, 2006


As I understand it, novelists aren't supposed to use coincedence as a plot device, probably because it would be easy to overdo it. Yet, an experienced novelist like E.L. Doctorow can turn coincedence into an underlying theme in a novel like Ragtime to great effect, making the novel feel like real life. I bring this up because I had one of those coincedences yesterday.

After blogging about the Sally Melville books yesterday morning, and then working all day, I went to my last sock knitting class in the evening. I did really well with the Kitchener stitch, although doing it over 8 stitches didn't give me a lot of practice. I had some trouble starting my 2nd sock because my stitches got twisted, but I finally got it going. Then, as we were sitting there chatting, our teacher started to talk about the fall classes and mentioned that they are going to be offering a class (more of a knit-along, really) on the Einstein coat found in the first volume of The Knitting Experience! The rest of the classes aren't set yet, but they are definitely offering that one. Being a working girl, I will have to see when the class is offered, but if I can fit it into my schedule, I am considering taking it. The coat is a versatile pattern that lends itself to any size and almost any yarn. I am already thinking about doing it in a bulky yarn so that it grows quickly. I don't work with bulky yarn very often, but I might for this project. I'll just have to wait and see. But it does seem funny that I was drooling over Sally Melville's patterns yesterday morning, and then I was offered the perfect opportunity to make one yesterday evening!

So, this weekend, my goal is to finish my crocheted Aran sweater, work on or finish my Fair Isle hat, and work on my second sock. I'll have to see how much the housework interferes with that plan! I may pop in here over the weekend, but if I don't get that chance, have a great weekend and I will see you again on Monday morning.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Knitting Experience - for Crocheters!

This morning I would like to start an occasional series called "Knitting Books for Crocheters". These are the knitting books that I draw inspiration from when I think about designing crochet projects. It occurred to me, though, that crocheters who don't knit wouldn't know about these books.

I would like to start with Sally Melville's 3 volume work called The Knitting Experience. Volume 1 focuses on the knit stitch, volume 2 adds the purl stitch, and volume three explores the use of color in design. These books are interesting in several ways. First of all, the concept of limiting the designs to one stitch would seem to have tremendous potential for crocheters. After all, knitters only have 2 basic stitches, while crocheters have several to choose from. I have often thought that if I ever did a book like this, I would choose the half double crochet. I love the versatility of the stitch and I think it would be a real creative challenge to explore it further.

Melville's books are inspiring in other ways, as well, though. I think many of her patterns would lend themselves to crochet very easily. This might be because many of her patterns use basic shapes, such as triangles and rectangles, as building blocks. For example, one of my favorite patterns in the book is a scarf that starts as a triangle and ends as a rectangle. The way she combines those shapes with other design elements is also interesting. Even the patterns that don't lend themselves directly to crochet are inspirational. The shaping used in various garments, and the attention to detail in every pattern, are practically guaranteed to get the creative juices flowing.

If you are a crocheter who is thinking about picking up knitting, Melville's books are a great place to start. Her instructions are clearly written, and the patterns in the books move from easy to progressively harder. She starts with scarf patterns but quickly moves to other garments, such as ponchos and sweaters, that are doable even for newbies. All in all, I highly recommend these books to everyone.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

New blog to tell you about

This will be a short post this morning. I just want to take a minute and highlight a new blog I found yesterday. For now, it is called the Killer Knitalong, and if you like to read mysteries as well as knit, this site is for you! I joined this morning, and I can't wait to see what we read first.

I also wanted to mention that I have a guest post up at Dee's blog. See you all tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Knitting vs. Crocheting

I had a very productive day yesterday. I am ready for my sock class on Thursday night, and I made good progress on a crocheted Aran sweater that I have been working on for 2 years now. I started the day with the sweater in 4 pieces - front, back, and 2 sleeves. I now have the shoulders seamed together and the collar crocheted. Hopefully I will finish the seaming over the weekend.

Going back and forth between the two projects yesterday made me think about how I decide whether to use my knitting or crocheting skills when I start a project. Obviously, if I find a pattern I want to create, then I use the skills required by the pattern. For example, Dee brought this pattern (scroll down to Little Hearts Table Runner - I can't get a direct link to work - sorry!) to the attention of the Connecticut Crochet Yahoo group, and I would love to get started on it.

But the choice isn't always clearcut. Patterns for many items have been written for both knitters and crocheters. Sometimes it comes down to my personal preference. I really like to knit mittens (and crocheted mittens seem to require a lot of counting, making them harder to do). On the other hand, I really like to crochet hats, because I can crochet them so much faster than knitting them. I am still experimenting with scarves, but I tend to prefer to knit them because there is a real potential for too much bulk in a crocheted winter scarf. I have had better luck crocheting fashion scarves, probably because the yarn is drapier to begin with. So the fabric I will end up with also has an impact on my decision.

Sometimes the yarn I want to use is the deciding factor. For instance, I had a skein of Ritratto that I wanted to make into a scarf. I tried knitting with it, but ultimately I crocheted the scarf because the yarn and stitch just went together better. So the interaction of the stitch pattern and the yarn can also be an important factor.

I realize that this question only comes up if you know how to both knit and crochet. If you only do one or the other, then you create items with the skill you have. But if you know both skills, then I think it becomes an important question, particularly if you have any desire to design patterns. It then becomes the first of many choices you will have to make as you create your original design.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Yarn Stash Grows!

So yesterday was my crochet guild meeting. We weren't able to meet in our usual room at the local hospital, so one of our members graciously invited us over to her house for our meeting. As it turns out, she is also the member who stores the club's yarn stash. So we were all able to visit the club's stash and adopt whatever we wanted from it, provided we use the yarn to either make something for a charity project or something for the guild to sell. Well, we were like kids in a candy store, I can tell you! I ended up coming home with 3 bags of yarn, as you can see by the picture. This is certainly the way the yarn stash grows!

So far, my plan is to use the single skeins to make hats, mittens, and/or scarves. The two skeins of rose colored Soft Boucle will probably become chemo hats. I am not so sure what to do with the 6 skeins of blue Soft Boucle, and the 4 skeins of blue and 1 skein of green Cotton Fleece, though. I found a pattern for an afghan on the Bernat site that only requires 5 skeins of Soft Boucle, so that is a possibility. I also thought the Cotton Fleece might make a nice poncho, since we have had requests for ponchos at some of our sales. I would certainly be interested in other ideas, though. If you think of anything, please let me know in comments or through email. I promise to keep you all up to date as I make progress on the projects, whatever they turn out to be.

Friday, June 09, 2006

So You Think You Can Knit!

About a year ago, I started the Master Knitter program through TKGA. I got about half way done, and then life took off and I haven't had a chance to get back to work on the program. But this week I decided that it is time to get Level I finished up. So I e-mailed the national guild and got updated instructions. I was very pleased that the instructions were emailed to me literally overnight. This revision doesn't look all that much different from the instructions I have been working off of, but I haven't had time yet to do a line by line comparison. Anyway, I am very excited to get back to this project. I have Wednesday mornings off each week, and I intend to use that block of time each week until I get Level I in the mail. I may not even post to the blog on Wednesdays for a while. We'll see how it goes. I should also note that there is another major revision due out on August 1st to all three levels of the program, so my goal is to have Level I completed before the next revisions come out.

For those of you who might not be familiar with it, the Master Knitter program is not a learn to knit program (although the guild offers a variety of correspondence courses that do teach knitting skills). It is a rigorous program for the evaluation of participants' knitting abilities, with the goal of making us into the best knitters we can become. Knitted swatches, written answers to questions, reports, book and magazine article reviews, knitted garments, and original patterns are all required in order to pass all three levels. Happily, not all of those things are required in Level I or I might not ever get it done!

For the crocheters out there, as far as I know, the CGOA does not offer a Master Crocheter program. However, the Craft Yarn Council does offer a Certified Instructor Program in both knitting and crocheting that is also rigorous and thorough. If I ever get through the Master Knitter program, I might try to work through the CIP in crocheting.

Well, I am off to live in the real world for the weekend. Tomorrow we are celebrating some family events, and Sunday is my crochet guild meeting. I'm sure when I post on Monday morning, I will be all fired up about crocheting. I always come home from guild meetings energized and enthused. That's maybe the best thing about belonging to a guild. You get to see what everyone else is working on and you get all kinds of ideas to improve your own projects. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Fair Isle Knitting-Part 2

I don't know if it is the Celtic blood that runs through my veins (both my maternal grandparents came from Scotland), or if it was the early immersion in Scottish culture that I experienced throughout my childhood, but something keeps drawing me to the knitting styles of Scotland. So, of course, when I wanted to learn to knit with more than one color yarn, I turned to Fair Isle knitting first. I had the opportunity last February to take a class at my LYS. Our project was a Mission Falls pattern called the "Waupoos Hat". My hat isn't finished yet, but I was able to take this photo last weekend that really shows up the color work. I actually used Mission Falls wool for the project, and I am very happy with the results.

I am still working my way through the Alice Starmore book, so I don't have any more historical tidbits today. I do want to point out, though, that traditionally, Fair Isle knitting has referred to both the technique of using only 2 colors in each row and stranding one color across the back of the work while knitting with the other color, and to a particular set of motifs that were worked with this technique. More recently, any motifs worked with the technique have been called "Fair Isle". My hat is a good example of this evolution of the term. For some pictures of traditional Fair Isle knitting, check out the website of the Shetland Museum in Scotland.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Fair Isle Knitting, Part I

I have been doing some research for a future post on Fair Isle knitting, and so I have been reading through Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting (now sadly out of print, with used copies selling for a minimum of $135.00). I was really struck by this fact on page 8: "Local eighteenth-century physician and historian Dr. Arthur Edmondston noted that this industry generated about L17,000 a year in the 1790s". The industry Dr. Edmonston refered to was the knitting of "stockings, gloves, nightcaps, and other wearing apparel", which were bartered for goods sold by local merchants or sold for cash to foreign fishermen passing by. I had known that the women of the Shetland Islands (of which Fair Isle is one of the smallest and most barren) contributed to the local economy with their knitting, but I hadn't realized to what extent. L17,000 would have been a lot of money in the 1790s. (Sorry about the L - I can't seem to insert the symbol for the British pound.) I should also note that this was what was called "plain knitting". The color work we typically associate with Fair Isle knitting was not developed until sometime in the 19th century, after the manufacture of socks or stockings in particular had been mechanised and plain knitting had ceased to add much to the local economy.

I know that in some cultures, the earliest knitters were men, but apparently on the Shetland Islands, the knitters were mostly women. Perhaps the men were too busy fishing to have time. Anyway, thinking about this fact, and the life it represents, makes me realize how fortunate we are to be able to practise our crafts for enjoyment, and not to help put food on the table.

More on this tomorrow. Today it is off to "Coffee, Chat, and Crochet" with my fellow guild members before I go work at noon!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

To Guild or not to Guild

I want to talk a little bit about both the national and local guilds this morning, partly to publicize guilds and partly to further explain some of the projects I am working on. The concept of the guild, an organization of people with similar skills or interests, has roots that go back all the way to the ancient world, but they are perhaps most associated with skilled craftsmen during the Middle Ages. At that time, they functioned as a way of passing along skills to the next generation through a rigorous training period that took students from apprentice to journeyman to master craftsmen. (They also functioned as trade unions and as such could have enormous impact on the local economy, but that part of the history is less pertinent to the modern guilds I am talking about.)

Today, we knitters and crocheters have our own national guilds that we can belong to. The Crochet Guild of America, or CGOA, and the Knitting Guild Association, or TKGA, both exist to promote the crafts of crocheting and knitting. Membership in the national guilds brings you into contact with fellow enthusiasts from around the country and offers educational opportunities from classes at the annual conferences to correspondence courses offered through the guilds. In addition, the TKGA offers a 3-level Master Knitters course. And membership in each guild gives you a subscription to two cool magazines - Crochet! and Cast On.

In addition, there is a nationwide network of local guilds affiliated with the national guilds. I currently belong to my local crochet guild. I have belonged to the local knitting guild in the past, but unfortunately my schedule no longer permits me to attend meetings. I highly recommend belonging to a local guild if it is at all possible, but there is one thing to keep in mind before you join. Affiliation with the national guilds imposes certain obligations on the local guilds. Local guilds are expected to perform a certain amount of community service each year, and members are expected to both learn new skills and pass along their skills by teaching others. This makes local guilds a terrific place to improve your own skills, but it also means that you will be expected to contribute as well.

I happen to belong to a very active local guild, the Happily Hooked on Crochet Club or HHCC, so often my WIPs are geared toward guild projects. We do three major charity donations a year - chemo hats and preemie blankets for the local hospital, and hat, mittens and scarf sets for the Salvation Army. In addition, 2-3 times a year we set up a booth to sell items we have made to raise money for the club. We are also encouraged to design our own patterns and to submit our work to competitions like Craft Adventure. So you can see how this might keep me busy with crocheting projects! I have 3 preemie blankets and 6 chemo hats to take with me to the meeting this Sunday, I am working on 2 baby blankets for the next sale (with 2 already finished), and my list of 10 projects for the summer includes finishing a crocheted Aran sweater for Craft Adventure and making an unspecified number of small items for the group to sell. But I will also say that belonging to the guild makes me very happy, keeps me enthusiastic about crocheting, and has improved my skills immensely. I highly recommend joining at both the national and local levels.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Restoring order to chaos, or reviewing my WIPs!

Well, I didn't get out for any fiber adventures this weekend like Dee did (check out her entry for Friday, June 2nd - unfortunately, her weekend went downhill yesterday and I hope her eye is ok), but by staying home I still managed to have a "fiberlicious" weekend! It was one of those rare weekends when the housework was caught up and we had no family obligations, so I actually had some time to myself. So I decided to take a break from blogging and try to bring some order to my WIPs (or Works in Progress). Wow, had they gotten out of control!

As I have been reading other people's blogs (and I will get my links list straightened out one of these days and start linking to some of them), I have been thinking about WIPs. Generally speaking, everyone has at least one, and most of us have more than one. But I seem to have enough projects started that I can actually separate them into several categories:

  • I have WIPs that I am actively working on. Usually this is because I have some sort of deadline for finishing them - gifts that I want to give by a certain date, or my guild is collecting for a charity donation. Projects in this category have a reasonable chance of getting finished someday.
  • I have WIPs that I would really like to work on. They are going well, I am happy with the project, but work on items in the first category keep interfering or I have just slowed down on them for some unknown reason. Projects in this category have a 50/50 chance of getting finished.
  • Finally, I have WIPs that I haven't looked at in years. Sometimes these are things that I started but they just went disastrously wrong. For instance, I tried to crochet a scarf lengthwise using the seed stitch. Apparently, I didn't swatch my gauge well, because the wider this thing got, the shorter it got. I have never seen crochet pull in that much! So yesterday, I just cut it loose and disposed of it. I still need to pull out some scarves that I started that have gotten pushed to the back of the closet and figure out just what I don't like about them. Anyway, projects in this category have almost no chance of getting finished.
So after reviewing all of my WIPs this weekend, I decided to list the ones I would like to work on this summer, to try to keep myself on track. I came up with a list of 10 items I want to finish! We'll see how that goes. I will post about them as I work on them. I did manage to finish two preemie blankets this weekend, and I should finish a third tonight. Then I can start focusing on my list.

I also managed to take some pictures this weekend, so I thought I would leave you this morning with a picture of my sock. This project is definitely in the first category! As a matter of fact, I know it will be finished a week from Thursday, my last night of class.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Sock it to me!

One problem with being "home schooled" in the arts of knitting and crocheting is that there are some definite gaps in my knowledge. So my goal this year has been to fill in some of those gaps by taking classes at my LYS. Right now, I am in the middle of a knitted sock class, and so far I love to knit socks. I have had the feeling for a while that if I ever started knitting socks, I would never stop, and then, before I signed up for the class, I took a look at my stash and realized that I have a lot of sock yarn, which I had bought without knowing how to knit socks. So it was definitely time to learn! I am using Plymouth Encore in the blue and white variegated. I chose worsted weight for the first pair mostly because I knew that they would knit up more quickly, but my next pair will be made with sock yarn.

What I didn't realize when I started the class was how many skills I would learn/refresh in the class. I know this won't be news to experienced knitters, but if there are any newer knitters reading this, I highly recommend taking a sock class as a way to take your knitting skills to the next level. Socks require the following skills (some of which I knew, some of which I had never tried before): using double-pointed needles, slip stitches, short rows, decreasing, picking up stitches along the sides of the heel, and the Kitchener stitch (a method of grafting stitches rather than sewing them together). I also recommend taking a class, though, and learning how to do all of these things right from the get go. Several experienced knitters said that to me before I took the class, and they were absolutely right.

I'm not sure how interesting pictures of a half made sock will be, but I will try to post some when I get a little more time over the weekend.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A "Novel" Idea for Crocheters

I have been browsing in my library's collection to find novels that use knitting and crocheting in their plots. My thought was that as I get some of these books read, I would post reviews of them on the blog. After a while, though, it occurred to me that I was only finding plots involving knitting. There didn't seem to be any novels about crocheters. I work in a fairly good sized library, but of course we don't have every book ever published. So I decided to test my theory by looking at Library of Congress subject headings and the Library of Congress catalog.

What I found confirmed my suspicions. There are several children's and adult novels cataloged under the subject heading "Knitting--fiction". There is exactly 1 children's book cataloged under the heading "Crocheting--fiction". Keep in mind, however, that catalogers have only been assigning subject headings to fiction books for the past few years. If a "crocheting novel" had been published before that, it would be very difficult to find at this point.

I also noticed another interesting thing. While there are 3 books cataloged under the subject heading "Knitting--philosophy", the subject heading "Crocheting--philosophy" doesn't even exist yet. I can't help but wonder if these two publishing gaps are related. Perhaps a book about the philosophy of crochet would give would be crochet novelists something more to work with.

Finally, the blog over at had an interesting post recently about knitting and crocheting books, and some of the comments discuss "Knit Lit" fiction and the lack of crocheting novels as well. Why this gap exists isn't a question that will be resolved any time soon, but isn't it nice to know that there is a publishing niche here just waiting to be filled?