Archive for the “bags” Category

The speed at which I've been knitting lately has given me a boost of confidence and renewed my energy for knitting. Two hats in five working days, a pair of armwarmers in less than ten hours? When I first started knitting, I never would have dreamed that I could crank out finished products so quickly. (And now, I'm making excuses like "well, it's worsted yarn, it's not like it was a pair of socks or anything.")

So here I am, considering that it's eleven weeks to Maryland Sheep and Wool, and wondering how many of my current WIPs I can finish before then so that I can feel no guilt about buying more yarn or fibre. (I'm rather pleased that I've used all the yarn I've bought so far this year. Three balls of yarn in, three balls of yarn out.)

Currently on the needles, I have the neglected Stripey Striped Socks, the not-yet-forgotten Napramach, my current traveling sock (I've just realized I've never taken a picture of it, nor of the last pair of socks I finished! Must rectify that.) and the light and airy Dancing Cranes stole.

The stole doesn't need to be finished until the middle of October, but I know it will take a while, so I want to keep up with adding at least a row every day, and preferably two. With around 60 or 90 rows left to work, depending on whether I choose to do three or four pattern repeats, I don't want to risk the chance of not finishing it in time. I do like working on it, but it's a solitary sort of project, and I don't always want to lock myself away to work on it.

The sock will just travel around with me until it's finished - I've almost completed the first of the pair, and then the second will take up residence in my purse. When I'm done with that one, the second Stripey Striped Sock can become my traveling companion if I haven't yet finished it at home. It's not the best sock for the job, but it'll have to do, because I really want it to be done.

Napramach... I actually don't know how long it will take for me to finish this thing! It took me six weeks to make the first half of it, and I seem to be knitting much faster now. Maybe three weeks? Then blocking, crocheting the sides together, and sewing in the lining, and it's done. I'm guessing that my friend has probably forgotten about the bag by now, or if she hasn't forgotten then she's given up hope that I'll ever finish it for her. It will be a nice surprise for her when it's finished - she only knew that I was making a bag for her, but I never told her what it would look like!

The bonus prize of finishing Napramach will be that I'll have most of each of six colourways of Rowan Felted Tweed to play with after the bag is done. I'm thinking of designing a colourwork hat with the leftovers; there should be more than enough, and I already know how nicely the colours go with one another. The second bonus prize will be on my yearly tally, because I'll be able to cross off six balls of yarn from my count! I wonder if I should cross off all six balls, because I bought them specifically for this project? Or do I mark each of them as half-used, since there will be enough to make another project?

The Stripey Striped Socks are close to the heel on the second sock, and I can't seem to find my notes on how many heel stitches I left unworked in the centre of the short-row heel. I think I scribbled them on a tiny piece of paper, not expecting nearly two years to fly by between sock heels. I'll count stitches on the first sock and try to get the second sock as close as I can.

I'm going to love each of these projects when they're done. And I hate having the Stripey Striped Socks and Napramach hanging over my head. I see them and think I ought to put some rows on them, and then I go do something else. It's time to crack down and get these projects done and off the WIPs list so that I can start new things. At the same time, I don't want to burn out on knitting again; I know that's more likely to happen when I'm forcing myself to work on projects that I don't like as much. I'm just going to work steadily on these four projects until they're done, and I won't start anything new until at least both pairs of socks are finished. Then, of course, I'll need a new traveling sock.

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I haven't knit much in the past couple of weeks. There always seems to be something else to do, people visiting, places to go.

Half of the blues and greens Falkland is spun into singles that should ply into a striping heavy fingering weight yarn, and I've split the other half to be the same. I took a pair of pliers to my spinning wheel to open up the eyehooks just enough to let me switch the brake band around so that it will work better for plying. I can't believe I didn't think of that before watching the New Voyager video that recommended it - of course a spring-tensioned brake won't work if the bobbin is turning towards the spring!

My friend for whom I'm making Napramach asked me again about it last night. I haven't touched it in weeks, but now I'm reminded that I need to get back to it. It takes a lot of concentration and unbroken blocks of time, which seem to be in short supply lately.

I cast on for the second handspun BFL sock, and am through the toe increases and into the foot. It will probably be my Thanksgiving knitting, as it's stockinette all the way up. That makes it perfect for knitting while talking.

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For my birthday, my parents gave me a gift card to an arts & crafts store. This weekend, armed with the card and a 50% off any one item coupon, I went shopping! First I got an Ott-Lite, so I can see what I'm doing even in the dark. I'm hoping that my not-full-sunlight pictures will come out well with this new light source. The one I got clips to a table edge or stands on its own.

Then I picked up a set of crochet hooks, just to have. I do want to learn to crochet, kinda-sorta-maybe, but at the very least, hooks are useful for picking up dropped stitches. I think the two sides of the Napramach bag are supposed to be crocheted together, too. So the hooks will come in handy.

I also picked up nice pair of Fiskars short scissors with an extra-fine tip for snipping yarn, a set of craft acrylic paints for painting designs on the loft supports in my room, and a spray can of matte finish for the Ashford bobbins. Some of them are unfinished, and it's probably not a good idea to leave them that way for too long.

I'm about 75% of the way through the BFL fiber, and hope to have it done, plied and finished this week. It's been a while since I've picked up any of my knitting projects, and I'm starting to miss them!

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napramach5I finished knitting the first side of the Napramach bag this afternoon, hooray! The two-color bind-off was not nearly as complicated as I had thought, which was a relief. And while I haven't mastered the art of knitting with one strand in my left hand and one in my right, I've at least gotten to an acceptable skill level with it. I expect the second side to come out better than the first, just by virtue of practice. Unfortunately there's no obvious front or back to this bag, or I'd be putting this piece in the back. I'm going to start the second side right away, or I know I'll avoid it for almost as long as I avoided starting the project in the first place. I'm a terrible procrastinator, and I'm working to conquer that trait as it's something I really don't like about myself. So, here goes for side two of the bag!

napramach6It obviously needs some blocking... and there are just a few ends to weave in. Actually, I don't think I'm going to weave them in; I think I'm going to tie them to each other. Since the bag will be lined, no one will ever see them. Okay, so I'm not quite half done - I've marked the project at 45% complete. I think the knitting will be 90%, the crochet bits 5%, and the lining another 5%. I have no idea what the crochet instructions mean just yet, but I know someone who can help me figure it out (Hi, Sarah!) and I'm eager to learn! There are so many great crochet patterns out there that I'd love to try, mostly amigurumi, but some freeform stuff as well. Aren't those spiffy?

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napramach3These are the colors of the Napramach - tan, brown, two shades of blue, red, and gray. (The pattern called for a more silvery-gray than what I have, but that was out of production at the time, so darker gray will have to do.) They go nicely together, the red standing out against the more subdued colors. And they each have a little bit of the others' colors in them. The red and tan have tweedy bits of blue; they all have tweedy bits of tan. I really like tweed yarns.

camelfabricAnd THIS is the most perfect fabric ever. So ugly it's beautiful, covered in camels, and just the right colors for the bag. It just doesn't get better than that. She is absolutely going to love this. I ordered two 18" squares, which should be more than enough. If there's enough leftovers, I might sew a little drawstring pouch and give her that, too.

For a project that annoyed me so much to have to make (especially when I found out that she thought I was making her something simple like a Booga Bag), that I procrastinated on for approximately two years, I seem to be enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. It definitely helps that it's going a lot faster than I expected! I'm stretching my skills and rising to meet a challenge, and that's always a good feeling.

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napramach4I seem to be getting the hang of this project. Mostly I work with one yarn in my right hand and two in my left, because I'm still not very good at knitting with the yarn in my right hand. Purling is still confounding me. English-style knitting seems like an exercise in wasted motion. I know many people who knit English who are considerably faster than I am (I'm looking at you, Janis) so I know it's not a bad style... it just seems like a lot of movement! Anyway, the written instructions deviated from the chart yet again, so I'm ignoring them and just following the chart now. It's knitting, after all, and no one's going to notice if there's a fudged bit here or there.

napramach2With a little bit of blocking, this will look pretty spectacular. I'm trying to remember to leave nice long floats so that there's room for the knitting to stretch. Because I'm going to line the bag, I'm not worried about the floats getting snagged on anything. I'd like to find some horrifically gaudy camel print for the lining, since the recipient's favorite animal is the dromedary.

napramach3I feel as though I've gone up a level or two in Knitting (ding!) and although I don't like the way the pattern is written, I do like the way the product is coming out. Except for these decreases in the middle. They all slant properly, but I wonder if a centered double decrease might not look better. Ah well, too late now! I hate thinking "if I knit this again, I would change..." because I really, really can't imagine myself ever knitting another one of these bags. Of course that jinxes it, and twenty years from now I'll have a sudden Napramach craving...

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Oh, Napramach. What the hell was I thinking when I said I would knit you? I looked at your siblings projects on Ravelry, and no one had a kind word to say about your pattern. I might have been deterred by "not for the faint of heart," but no. I am stubborn, and I will conquer you. One row at a time, one stitch at a time, I will persevere. And I will win.

It's a good thing that Rowan Felted Tweed holds up to repeated frogging.

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kureyon sock 1This is as far as I got with the Kureyon sock on the airplane. I love watching the stripes emerge, the subtle shifts of colors that lead to new interplays. Figuring out how to carry the unused yarn up five rounds without having it show through is interesting. I'm not sure I'm doing it right; the floats are longer than I'd like, but so far nothing peeks through. So far, I really like this yarn. Except for the knot, but I was kind of expecting that. It's certainly not as soft or squooshy as, say, Dream in Color's "Smooshy", but it's not as rough as sandpaper, like some people have said. And while there are some underspun places, I haven't had trouble with the yarn drifting apart.

napramach 1So this is what happened with Napramach: the first row in the chart has two stitches and doesn't say anything about increases. The second row in the chart has four stitches. Figuring that meant I'd have four at the end of the row after I did the increases, I bravely knit on... and when I got to the colorwork, I was short by two stitches. I ripped back to the beginning and did an increase in the first row, so that I'd have the proper four in the second... and when I got to the end, I had an extra two stitches. So I just skipped the increase in the last row, and I'm sure no one will ever know the difference. I plan to line the bag with something gaudy, preferably a camel print. Riya will absolutely love it.

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My trip to Canada was excellent, partly because of the Fleep-Tops (Warm enough, only because it was relatively warm there. I rate them as good for 35-45F.) but mostly because I was with some of my best friends. We ate stew, we drank beer, we played Munchkin. I knit some, too - I cast on for a sock in Noro Kureyon while in the airport waiting for my flight.

My ball of yarn weighed light at only 84g, which is probably because it's so ridiculously dry up here, and there was a knot at the 39g mark with a color change. So now I have one 39g and one 45g ball, and I decided to start with the smaller. I'm working toe-up to get the most out of the yarn, and striping every five rounds because there's no way I'd be able to get the color transitions to line up properly. Striping makes a non-matching pair of socks into a matching pair! (I know, I said I was going to knit Thermal Socks, but I changed my mind.)

Now that I'm home, I've cast on for Napramach. This is the most complicated thing I've ever tried. I'm eight rows in and stymied - how do I not have the right number of stitches? The chart makes no sense to me. I've posted for help on Ravelry, and hopefully will get an answer soon.

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knitting bag When I saw my mother-in-law last weekend, she gave me this bag as an early birthday present. My birthday's in January, but I'm not going to see her again before then. "Oooh!" I may have squeaked. "A knitting bag!"

She looked confused. "It's not a knitting bag," she told me, "it's a purse. It has a glasses case--"

"I can put stitch markers in there!"

"--and a little cosmetics bag--"

"For my ruler and some bigger notions!"

Eventually we agreed that while it hadn't been sold as a knitting bag, it's going to be one now. It's not exactly what I'd carry for an everyday purse, but as something to carry yarn and medium-sized works in progress, it's perfect! In fact, this may be the best gift she's ever gotten me.

One year she bought me a cape. I kid you not.

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