Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sock Yarn - Whining and Cheering Allowed

What can I say?  I really and truly am the worst "blogger" in the universe. I think it's because I don't feel that anything I have to say is that "important".  So, as a result, I rarely blog.

However, during a recent conversation with my adorable, hubby I started prattling on again about knitting and knitting yarns.  (He, being the considerate husband that he is, listened....well, he acted like he was listening.)  The crux of the conversation was about what sock yarns are excellent versus just plain old not worth the time.   That's when I got a brain storm.  I could write a couple of blogs about sock yarn. 

I have a theory that if you spend as much time as most knitters do in making a lovely pair of socks.  They should last a long time....I'm not talking about a couple of months but years. 

The reason that I want to socks to last years is that the socks I knit are for my husband.  I don't really know of very many knitters that knit socks for men.  I'm betting its because, in the case of my husband, he likes his socks to come up to his knees (that's a lot of rib stitches) and he has pretty long feet.  So when I invest that much time in a pair of socks....I don't want to have to knit another pair in a couple of months...unless the mood strikes.

So, with that in mind, I thought I would start with a sock yarn I found on sale.  Yes, I sock yarn probably wasn't the best choice to start analyzing the durability, etc. of sock yarn.  However, there are many knitters out there who may or may not want to spend a lot of their discretionary income on sock yarn.

The sock yarn I would like to discuss is Serenity Sock yarn by Premier Yarns.

The yarn is composed of 50% superwash Merino wool, 25% rayon made from bamboo and 25% nylon.  I liked the feel of the yarn in the craft shop.  The color selection was good and my husband found two colors that he really liked.  The skeins of yarn had several "flaws" in the spinning which left large bumps of unspun fiber.  In addition, the twist of the yarn didn't hold up well resulting in lots of splitting...very annoying. 

After just one day of my husband wearing the socks, I noticed that the fibers were already felting.  Sure, I know that if socks don't fit just right and are too loose they will rub and felt. But this is the 12th pair of socks I have knit for him and none of the others have ever felted the first day.

So, as much as I like the "feel" of this yarn.  I'm just not sure that I would ever use it again for anything that needs to be as durable as a pair of socks.  But on a positive note, I think that it would make some very lovely sweaters or even gloves.

Ok, that's my little opinion.  Hope it helps any sock knitters in the sock knitting universe.

More in a few weeks about my next sock yarn whine or cheer.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year-New Craft

As many of you know, I've been a knitter, crocheter, tatter for many years and have in the past five years learned how to spin (still learning) and weave (very basic).  I am motivated this year to develop my spinning and weaving skills to more than just the basics.

However, I have always had a fascination with quilting.  I remember as a young girl watching the older ladies sitting around a large quilting frame in Mrs. Darden's house.  Mrs. Darden was a woman that as a young girl came with her parents to Oklahoma for the land run.  The quilting frame belonged to her mother.  The ladies in the neighborhood would sit around this quilting frame talking,  laughing and gossiping while lovingly hand stitching these beautiful works of art.  I loved watching them hand stitch those quilts.  When Mrs. Darden died, my mother inherited the lovely quilting frame and still has it to this day.  With any luck, mom will remember that I want to inherit the quilting frame as well.

So this year, I decided that I wanted to make a small lap quilt.  I found that Craftsy had a free Quilt Block of the Month class and immediately signed up for it.

Little did I know that quilting tools are a little expensive let alone how much the cost of cotton had  gone up.  Wow, I really haven't  spent much quality time with my sewing machine in a very long time.   But, being the typical, money conscious working housewife, I started coupon shopping for my tools.   My local thrift shop has lovely cotton fabric in 1/2 yard bundles for as little as $1.99 and if I go on Thursday, I get 25% off with their discount coupon.  Who would have thought that a  thrift store could offer a discount coupon.  Yep, I am cheap woman. 

In addition, I was extremely excited to find that many of the local craft stores offer 50% off coupons for any single item in the store.   First item, self-healing cutting matt.  Thank you A.C. Moore for the 50% off-normally $22.95, mine for only $10.59 including sales tax.  Savings $12.36.  Even better, I got another 50% off coupon at the register for my "next visit". 

So with a little patience, loads of coupon shopping and carefully monitoring my craft budget, I plan on finishing the quilt by the end of the year.  Sure, I could probably go out and buy all the supplies at one time and pay full price; but, I really want to see how much money I can save.  So happy New Year and Happy Crafting to all of you.  Till next time.

P.S.  Yes, I will send photos of progress.
P.S.S.  Yes, I still plan on knitting my adorable hubby a pair of socks for each month of the year-can't give up the knitting addiction totally.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Have I Done!

It's official, I've posted a request for test knitters for my dishcloth pattern on the Ravelry site Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Test Knitters/Crocheters.

I'm very hopeful that there will be some brave and daring soul that will be willing to invest their time and materials to make this dream of mine come true.  (I currently have crossed my fingers, toes and eyes.)

I'll write more as details follow-wish me good luck.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wanna Be Designer

It's been awhile since I posted to my blog.  I'm not sure whether it's because I don't have much to say or whether I feel that what I have to say is unimportant; however, I decided that if I could post at least once a month I might become more inclined to get into blogging.  With that in mind, here goes.

After an extremely frustrating time at work, I decided to get off my duff and work on designing a few knitting patterns.  In truth, owning a knitting shop, teaching people to knit and designing knitting patterns has been my dream job for a number of years.  But as with most adults, sometimes the dream gets put on the back shelf - you raise a family, build a career; and in general, just go through your life one day at a time.

This week, I started working on my first knitting pattern.  Yes, it's a no brainer-or I thought so.  It's pretty evident that the creative side of my brain hasn't been used for a very long time.  When I first started knitting, graphs were not something that most knitters used just pages and pages of written instructions all detailed row by row.  Now, knitters are using more graphs to represent knitting patterns and since my brain evidently doesn't have a working visual perceptual cell in it, this has proven to be a challenge.  Let me try to explain, when I was a kid in school and the standardized tests showed a flat "box" with the folding lines and you were to determine which shape it would be-my brain decided "all of them".  That's the challenge.

So I set down at my computer, opened up a Excel sheet and started putting the vision in my head on a screen.  Stepped away and voila-what appeared to be a pattern emerged.  Next step, trying to determine if the graph would actually turn into a finished product.  With yarn, hooks, needles (this is a knooking pattern-knitting with a crochet hook) in hand, I started working with the graph-can you say oops.  Yes there were mistakes; yes, I had to go back to the drawing board several times; but, I have a working graph and a potential project.

The next big challenge is converting those little squares on my graph to written instructions for those knitters who prefer the line by line, stitch by stitch instructions. (I know that this is going to get ugly.)

After that, locating some poor willing soul to "test" knook/knit my pattern to see if it actually produces the same product.

I have to admit that the whole process has been wonderfully frustrating.  By that I mean, that it has challenged me in a very unique way, made me feel a little bit better about my abilities to design a more complex pattern in the future and given me a sense of satisfaction that my normal every day job hasn't done in a very long time.  Could it replace my current job?  Who knows.  I'm sure that one little small town woman currently living in a large city has a minuscule chance of being found-but what's that old saying--No Pain No Gain.

So if you are a knitter or knooker and are feeling the desire to take on a challenge of testing my new pattern, leave a comment.  I promise I'll get back to you.

Now, back to the drawing board-just had another visual pop into my head and I need to get it down on paper before it disappears.  Talk to you soon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Spinner's Dream Fulfilled

It's been many months since I posted.  Not sure why I  didn't have much to say; but sometimes life is just like that. 

This past month, I was able to achieve a lifetime dream.  When I was a young mother living in a small town in Missouri, I had a desire to  learn how to spin.  But as with most young families, the price of a spinning wheel was out of the budget.  Throughout my life this dream was put aside from raising a family to establishing my career, it was always placed on the back burner.

Several years ago, I learned about drop spindles and I was finally in spinning heaven.  Even though the process was slow, I began to love the feel of the wooden spindle and fiber in my hands.  I saw the results of my spinning in the lovely yarn that I learned how to ply and later knit into gifts for friends and family.

Finally, on June 1st, my dream came true.  I purchased my lovely spinning wheel. 

The wheel is made by an entrepreneur in Cleveland, Texas by the name of Jerry Hillman and his company is called Bluebonnet Spinning Wheel Company.  I wanted to spend my money with an small company.  I read how the wheels were made from solid wood by an owner who had learned how to work with wood from his family.  A true artist.  I purchased my lovely wheel a model called the Bumblebee from this gentlemen.  All I can say, is that his customer service was exceptional.  He shipped the wheel carefully packaged with instructions on how to finish and assemble, answered any questions I had through email or personally on the phone.  It's very rare that you find this kind of customer service now days.

The minute that I knew that I was going to order this spinning wheel, I began to look for an appropriate name.  The name had to be some version of the word bee.  After all, Debra also means the bee.  So I started my search.  Much to my surprise, I found an Old English word that meant bee - Dumbledore.  How appropriate, one of my favorite characters out a series of books I adore - so my wheel became know as Dumbledore long before he arrived on my doorstep.

I remember my excitement the day the wheel arrived.  I couldn't wait to begin applying coats of wax to preserve the lovely grain of the wood.  I waited with anticipation until my next day off work to begin assembling my spinning wheel.  

It took me a few days to coordinate my feet, hands and head in the spinning process.  It's much like talking, walking, chewing bubblegum,  patting your head and rubbing your stomach all at the same time.  So after a few "bad" words loads of grumbling,  it finally came together.  I was sitting at the wheel concentrating so hard that I didn't even notice until my husband walked into the room and said "looks like your spinning".  Imagine my surprise.

So now that I have bent your ear about my new love, let me share a few photos.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Knitting Lesson

Do you remember the first time you learned to knit?  Do you remember your first teacher?  Can you recall the frustration?  Remember the pride of completing your first project? 

I remember my first knitting lesson.  My mother was our Blue Bird leader and she decided to teach her little group how to knit slippers.  I'm not sure how she did it.   But by the end of the lesson, we could cast on, knit and purl - what an accomplishment.

The first knitting lesson my grandchildren was in August of 2005.  If you remember, Katrina was hitting New Orleans full force and my family had come to stay with us in Tennessee.  Well, needless to say, they were a very confused and stressed so grandma pulled out the "kid" size plastic needles, the inexpensive "Red Heart" yarn and started teaching the knitting stitch.  We had the typical pitfalls of new knitters:  more stitches that we started with; big holes where stitches were dropped and the occasional knitting needle falling out.   By the time they returned to New Orleans a few days later, they were not exactly knitting but were definitely having fun.

This past week, I returned to New Orleans for a visit.  It has been nearly 6 years since I have seen my grand kids.  The first thing they wanted to do was knit.  Of course the previous lessons had been forgotten.  But grandma had yarn, knitting needles and 3 days for wooly fun.

Katie was the first to start.  Katie is 14 and very tall and slender.  Her hands are very delicate and can always be seen sitting quietly in her lap.  She is soft spoken and kind.  Since I have been trying to learn Portuguese style knitting, I cast on a few stitches and got her started on the purl stitch.  Within a matter of minutes she was breezing along. After a few minutes, she had developed her own "variation" of Portuguese knitting was was engrossed in her project.  By the time I left, she could cast on, knit, purl, cast off and sew a seam.   You could see the pride in her face. 

Lindsay is the baby.  She is short, petite and has very tiny hands.  So we got her started the same way as her sister; but, because her hands are so small she struggled.  Then I had an "ah ha" moment.  So we stuck the left needle between her knees and started worked with the right needle.  Similar to the process used when knitting with a knitting sheath or pouch.  She looked up and said "look grandma, I can do it to".  So off she went to find her "comfy" space on the sofa dragging her ball of yarn on the floor.  Lindsay was able to cast on, knit and purl and with the help of her big sister could cast off and sew a seam. 

Finally there was Kody.  Kody has a tendency to give up when things get hard and for him knitting was hard.  Too many motions, too many steps, too much distraction.   He expects perfection the first time - so much like his dad.   So we went back to the "throwing" style of knitting.  He immediately said, :grandma this is how I learned it in Tennessee, I remember this".  He was still knitting in the typical Kody way.  Knit for 2 minutes-go outside and throw the basketball.  Play with the dog.  Play his Game Boy.  Pick up the knitting.  It appears that his specialty is multi-tasking. 

So there we sat, grandma, three kids in our own  private knitting circle.  For 3 glorious days, we laughed, knitted, cooked, joked around and had a great time.  When I left to go home, I was the proud owner of 3 wrist warmers.

For me, the chance to pass along knitting to them was a privilege and an honor.  The time spent was one of pure joy.  I hope that someday they will fondly recall the time when they learned to knit as I do.  Maybe they will even take it up again when they are older and tell their friends of how they learned to knit.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Coming Unraveled

Every once in a while, I have to unravel my knitting.  I'm sure that others have had that "experience" as well.  This week, I experienced unraveling on a different level.

While my husband and I were out to dinner, we were approached by an elderly gentlemen.  He was neatly dressed, clean shaven, caring a walking stick.  He had a pleasant smile and a very pleasant manner.  He sat down at our table and asked very simply.  "I need a to get home."  Needless to say, this threw both of us for a curve.  First of all, we didn't know this gentlemen.  And since we live in a large city with a reputation of being one of the top 10 most dangerous places in the U.S., we were leary of him. 

As I watched him and listened to his conversations, it became apparent  that he was lost on many levels other than physically.  He spoke of leaving the house that morning to take a walk (it was now 930 pm) and how he had taken a wrong turn.  He knew his address; however, we were not familiar with where it might be located.  As he continued to ask for help, he became a little bit more agitated.  Exactly like when I start to unravel a knitting project and my frustration begins to rise to the surface.

Our first response was to contact the management of the restaurant and ask that they contact someone to assist him (like the police).  Unfortunately, they didn't get the subtle message of him being confused and disoriented; and just continued to ask him silly questions like did he know his address.  

So, just like with unraveling a knitting project we began to untie the knots and untangle the mess.  We asked several individuals in the restaurant if they knew where this street might be.  A lovely young woman came up to say she knew where his address was and that she would take him home.  The lovely gentlemen was very excited and rose to leave with her.  A few minutes later, he came back in the restaurant to shake our hand and thank us.  In that short moment of time, he again was lost...couldn't remember which young lady in the restaurant was going to give him a ride and started approaching individuals who had just come through the door asking where their car was so that they could take him home.   Again for him life was unraveling.

On this day, I saw a life unravel a little bit, the threads of sanity become tangled, the knots of fear start to rise; but I also saw the strength of kindness and caring of a young mother who took the time to untangle this little life that was unraveling just like I'm sure she does in her daily life.