Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Great Weekend




My weekend was busy, but great!

I had
so much fun this weekend, that I have to tell you about it! My husband and I went to the Blount Undergraduate Initiative (BUI) 10th Anniversary this weekend on the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa, AL. BUI is a liberal arts scholar program at UA. It is a great program, and you can read about it at http://www.as.ua.edu/blount. Mr. "Red" Blount was one of the major donors, and was very involved in the program, which is why the program bears his name.

Nathan and I were in the inaugural class (1999), and we both graduated college in 2003. Our experience at UA was impacted so much by being in this program. We learned so much, and gained so much intellectually and socially from BUI. We had so much fun getting to see old friends and professors this weekend. Several of us "Blount couples" have gotten married and have had "Blount Babies," and it was so great to see our kids playing and getting along so well. Some friends of ours from the program had gotten married and had a baby 3 days before we had ours. They had a blast together!


Knitting this Weekend
I also had fun knitting at my Mom's in Birmingham (of course!). This weekend while riding in the car and visiting with my Mom, I finished my Monkey wash cloth, started and finished a small green wash cloth, and started a baby bib.

This is my finished Monkey Wash Cloth (it has not been blocked yet, and I am not sure if I am going to do so.)



























The bib pattern is "Modern Cabled Baby Bib" by Andrea Pomerantz, and the pattern states that it is her variation of the "Simple Baby Bib" by Colleen Kadleck. You can find this pattern for free on Ravelry.com.

My Mom gave me a refresher on how to cable, and with this pattern it is SO easy. You only have to put two stitches on the cable needle and lay it behind your work, knit the next two stitches, and then knit the stitches on the cable needle. Then you just finish the row. It is simple and I must recommend it to anyone who wants something easy to work on in order to learn cabling.

The body of the bib is what I think is called a "seed stitch," which is basically, "knit, purl, knit, purl," all the way across. This is a great way to practice the purl stitch after you are comfortable with the plain garter stitch.

Here is my bib so far:



















A Current Special Project

In about 2005, sometime around the time I took the knitting class at the Knitting Corner, I started working on a scarf for my Dad. I was knitting it with grey wool that my Mom had given me. I don't know if I got bored with it, or if I just didn't have time to work on it, but either way I ended up putting it away and never finishing it. (One of several projects left from the past, before I really got into knitting.)

Well, I recently got out my "stash," which has been packed away for a while (I'll show pictures of this another day). In the stash was that project, still on the needles (the teal yarn is unrelated):



I looked at it a few times over the next few days, not knowing what to do. My Dad passed away in 2007, while I was pregnant with my daughter. I wasn't sure if I would be able to work on it again, since it was originally for him. However, one night I looked over at the partial scarf and yarn, and thought about how one of my husband's favorite colors is grey. I then thought of an idea. I could finish the scarf and give it to my husband, leaving the part that I had knitted for my Dad intact. It is a way for me to finish something that I had started for my Dad, and still give it to a special man in my life, someone who would appreciate the importance and sentimentality of it. I think he will really like that! (And I think my Dad would have really liked that too.)

I am hoping to finish this by Christmas. :)

Sincerely,
Faith


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dishcloths: The Perfect Beginning Knitter Project


I am out of town this weekend, but I wrote most of this post before I left, and am posting it from my Mom's in Birmingham. I am so excited to talk about all of the first knitting projects that I am working on! In my last post I shared with you my very first completed knitting project: A dishcloth. The pattern that I use for my dishcloths is "Grandmother's Favorite," and can be found all over the web and on Ravelry.
Grandmother's Favorite: An overview of a Really Simple Pattern

(Please bear with me as I am still learning all the correct knitting lingo.)
This pattern calls for size 6 or 7 needles. You start out by casting on 4 stitches, knit 4 stitches, and then on each following row you knit 2 stiches, do a yarn over in order to increase (which also makes a pretty eyelet hole), and then knit the rest of the row. How simple! The pattern calls for you to do so until you have increased up to 44 stitches on your needles. Then on the next row you knit 1 stitch, knit the next two stitches together in order to decrease 1 stitch, do a yarn over to increase 1 stitch, and then knit the next two stitches together in order to decrease 1 stitch.
Now, while you are decreasing 2 stitches (one stitch less in the row per "knit together"), you also increase 1 stitch when you do the yarn over, so that in all you only lose 1 stitch in the row. (I think that if you did it differently, such as just knitting two together one time in order to lose one stitch, that you wouldn't get the little eylet hole that the yarn over gives you, so the edge of the second half of the dishcloth wouldn't match because it wouldn't have the eyelet hole from the yarn over.)
Okay, that was a mouthfull, but hopefully made sense. :)
Beginner's will learn a lot with this simple pattern.
What's really neat about this pattern, is that, like my friend Sarah said in a comment on my last post, you learn so much while doing it. You learn how to knit, how to increase by doing a "yarn over;" and how to decrease, by knitting two stitches together. Of course, there is also casting on and binding off.
The only basic that you don't learn with this pattern is the "purl" stitch. I think that this may be a plus, though, because if you are a beginner, it is good to keep it simple. Like I said in previous posts, I have done knitting before, but just never got into it, and never progressed. I was able to get some good, though sporadic, experience with the simple knit and purl stitch, however. But even for me, already knowing the basic two stitches, it was great to just practice the knit stitch without having to also purl. It is nice to just take one step at a time...get used to one thing at a time. It makes thing simpler and less intimidating, too.
Six Reasons the Dishcloth is the Perfect Beginner's Project

I believe the "Grandmother's Favorite" Dishcloth pattern is the perfect beginner's project for six reasons:
1. It is Simple and Easy. (Even a beginner can memorize the pattern and won't get confused. It is not complicated.)
2. It is Quick. (For me, one of my personal discouragements that kept me from getting intoknitting was the length of time it takes to finish a project. This quick project solved thatproblem for me. Depending on the time devoted to knitting, you can finish this in 1-4 days the first time tried, and of course you get faster over time.)
3. You Learn a Lot. (As mentioned above.)

4. It is Not Intimidating. (Because this is a small project, and doesn't take a long time to make, it is not "scary" to think about making a mistake. If you do make a mistake, then it is reassuring that it is "only a dishcloth." You can rip it out and not feel like you are ripping out a lot of work. Also, since it is "only a dishcloth" you can live with the mistake if it is not too bad, and not feel like it is a big deal. There is no reason to fear making mistakes with this or any other knitting project really, and it really takes the pressure off.)
5. It is Fun! (These dishcloths are fun to make, not only because of the above 4 reasons, but also because you get to practice knitting! You can make a quick and easy knitted project that you will love to give away or keep to use yourself. They are great as a dishcloth or wash cloth, and they are pretty too.)

6. It is Easy to Modify. (My Mom taught me how to make these, and she knits up to 55 stitches before decreasing her rows, instead of the 44 that the pattern calls for. I used to think, wow, what a variation! That was until I found out about all the other variations that people do with this pattern. Some variations include: Making different size dishcloths, just using different size needles and number of stitches (thanks Mom and Lisa!), making blankets, making shawls, and more. All you have to do is vary the needle size and the number of stitches, and you can make all kinds of things. Of course, you can also change the type of yarn and make additional changes to the pattern as you desire. Your options are almost endlesss. Just let your creativity take over!)

Here is an example of a modification/variation on the pattern. This is one of my Ravelry friends' projects. (Her name is Lisa.) It is a shawl that she made based on the "Grandmother's Favorite" pattern. Isn't it beautiful!?
Lisa's Shawl:



My Projects So far with the "Grandmother's Favorite" Pattern
I've already shown you my first dishcloth and first completed knitted project:




I knitted this with Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn, in red and white. I used size 6 bamboo needles (that my Mom gave me) and knitted to 46 stitches before decreasing. For some reason it turned out looking kite shaped instead of an exact square. I think this may be because I knitted a little looser the second half of the dishcloth. (My ends aren't woven in yet. My Mom is going to show me how to do that this weekend.)


After completing that dischloth, I knitted the same pattern again, with the same type of yarn, but in a different color: Potpourri Ombre. I really enjoyed knitting with this yarn, as it is a natural color with specks of color here and there. It was very soothing, and made me feel like I was knitting with yarn from a time gone by. I did make several mistakes in this dishcloth, though I am not completely sure what I did wrong. Hopefully when I see my Mom this weekend she can tell me. (If you are reading this and know, please write a comment and let me know your thoughts! You can see it on the bottom edge of this picture: The eyelets are going along horizontally, and then all of a sudden they move up some and then continue going on horizontally again. Weird! My guess is that I made a mistake in decreasing or increasing, but I really don't know.)




The next dischloth I made is actually a mini wash cloth for my cousin-in-law's baby boy, who will be coming along any time now. I used Sugarn n' Cream in a light green color. (Her nursery is in green, red, and yellow, with lions, monkeys, and camels). It came out well, and was super quick to make. I increased until 30 stitches on a size 6 needle.
Next, I knitted the full-sized dishcloth in blue and white striped Sugar 'n Cream yarn, increasing to the pattern's 44 stitches, on size 6 needles. This is my best dishcloth yet! I will be giving this to my husband's Grandmother Mary for Christmas. She loves blue! I loved knitting with this color yarn! It reminded me of being in a beach house, which is decorated in white, with big paned windows to the view of the sea. Outside you can see the beautiful ocean with blue/green waves, and a bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds. The sand outside is decadent with sea water moistening it under your toes. I am also very comfy in cotton capris and sun hat. LOL! I really got into this yarn. I think knitting really has become an escape for me! :D


My Current Project
Now that I have made several of the "perfect beginner dishcloth," I am trying something new. I am making a dishcloth that includes the purl stitch, and shows a picture on it when you are done. I am making a dishcloth with a monkey on it (also for my cousin-in-law's nursery.) I am really excited about it. I am knitting on size 6 needles (of course!) and am using sugar 'n cream cotton (of course!) in yellow. At first my purl stitch was really really slow. After working on this pattern, though, I have noticed that my speed at purling is starting to pick up.

The pattern is by Lisa Millan and I got it from http://pictureandpattern.blogspot.com/ . I was specifically looking for a lion, monkey, and camel. I bought both the lion and monkey patterns that she had, which were $2 a piece. This seems really reasonable to me. A pattern is something that you can use over and over again, afterall. She also has a selection of free patterns, as well.
Other great dishcloth patterns can be found at http://www.knitsbyrachel.com/ . Some of these are free, but some are also priced at $2. Rachel also has a great yahoo group that you can join, where women KAL (Knit ALong). Both Lisa and Rachel have some really adorable dishcloths for you to choose from!
Here is my monkey washcloth so far (It's hard to make out the monkey right now):


Dishcloths and Wash Cloths are great for everyone to try.

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced knitting artist and designer, knitting a dishcloth can be an enjoyable knitting project. It is nice to relax, and start a quick project as a gift for someone in need of cheering up or for a special event, or even just for fun to use in your own kitchen or bath. Relax, pull out your needles and cotton yarn, and knit away to whatever destination your mind takes you to. I am planning on visiting my beach again, but then again, I really prefer the mountains of the Old Smokeys...
Have a great weekend!

Faith

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A History of My Knitting Journey So Far


Woman Knitting
by Francoise Duparc

Hello!

I am so excited to blog again! I have been dealing with a transmission problem all weekend, and didn't have a chance to knit or blog. :( I did have fun visiting my brother-in-law, though, who is the one who masterfully repaired our poor '98 Ford Taurus. It is so wonderful to have a great mechanic in the family!

I did finally get to knit a little today. I started on a small washcloth and am almost half finished. I have been knitting only dishcloths/washcloths most recently, which brings me to the topic of today's blog: A History of My Knitting Journey So Far. I will keep this as short as possible for now, and will perhaps delve into more details in separate posts. It seems like there is so much to tell…

"History"

Like I said before, I am a beginning knitter, and can definitely only knit at the beginner’s level. That doesn't mean, however, that I have never knit before. Au Contraire Mon frere! I have actually been knitting since I was a child. But, it never stuck with me. I never progressed, stayed with it, finished a project, or became a true "lover of knitting."

I was probably somewhere around 8-9 years old when my Mom first taught me to knit. I can remember knitting so tightly that I had to struggle just to get my right needle into the left stitch in order to knit. It seemed like I was always putting my needle in the wrong place, too, and made so many mistakes. It didn't really grow on me, and my Mom didn't pressure me to continue. So, I put my knitting in my craft basket and forgot about it (along with crochet).

From my childhood through college I tried knitting several more times. I could do the basics of knit and purl, but making mistakes always threw me off and discouraged me. Those dropped stitches; those strange, unidentified mistakes; the confusion of what to do. It was always discouraging. I liked knitting okay, but, I didn’t stick with it, and didn’t progress.

The next time I really tried knitting again was after I got married. My husband, Nathan, was in law school at Regent University in Virginia Beach, and I was over 700 miles away from my hometown in Alabama, and from my knitting teacher: my Mom. So, I decided to take a class in order to learn more, have one-on-one instruction, and have someone to help bail me out when I made my usual knitting mistakes. I was also hoping to learn how to fix these mistakes by myself. I decided to go to The Knitting Corner, which was a knit shop really close to Regent's campus.

The Knitting Corner gave a great class. The project we worked on was a kind of swatch piece that resembled one side of a baby or doll sweater. We learned basic knitting including knit and purl (which I already had down by this time), as well as increasing, decreasing, cabling, etc. The class was taught well and I really enjoyed it. I almost finished my swatch, but couldn't get it completed before the class was officially over. I was going to go to the next class and finish while everyone knitted, but I never did. (Life happened instead.)

For whatever reason, I didn't continue knitting long after the class was over, though I did enjoy it. I believe I had started a grey, wool scarf for my Dad in the garter stitch, and maybe I got bored, maybe it was still the mistakes… It was probably also the fact that I was a newlywed working full-time, and was really learning how to live life as "an adult." My time, therefore, was very limited, and I gradually stopped knitting.

Back in Alabama Again

After my husband graduated law school, we moved to Montgomery, AL. While living there, my husband studied and passed the bar, I started graduate school, and I got pregnant. Sometime during my pregnancy I tried knitting again. This time, it was the demands of preparing for a child that really distracted me from knitting. (Plus the usual problems of mistakes, I'm sure.) I spent my entire pregnancy purging our junk out of our small apartment, cleaning, organizing, and other wise "nesting."

The next part of my life gets very happy, but also pretty complicated. Several big things happened in our life: Sadly, during my pregnancy, my Dad passed away. This was obviously a very difficult time. After our deepest sorrow, God blessed us with our deepest joy: our wonderful daughter, Cosette. She is the light of our life! Next, I found out that I am adopted. (It is a great thing! I hope to share that story with you someday.) And last but not least, Nathan decided to go into patent law, we moved to Huntsville, AL, and moved in with my in-laws. Yes, you guessed it, life got really….really…hectic.

Our Life Now, and my Re-Introduction to Knitting

We are now in what I believe is the busiest and most challenging part of our life so far, and knitting has become a huge blessing to me in the midst of it all. My husband works and goes to school for about 12 hours each day, comes home and eats dinner, and then studies until about 12-2 AM. This means that I do everything else, plus work at a local museum on a lot of Saturdays. (I won't go into the long list and bore you. I am sure your lists are all long as well.)

It is a struggle to keep it all going smoothly, and definitely has its ups and downs. There seem to be really great times, and also some low times. But, all in all, we are working together in order to reach this goal, and I am very grateful for this opportunity.

It was about a month ago (July 22) that I visited my Mom in Birmingham. Ahhh...relaxation! No chores; no long lists of things to do; and an organized, clean, homey place to stay. I had been feeling overwhelmed, and this “vacation” was just what I needed. It was so wonderful at my Mom's and so wonderful to get to see her. It was while I was at my Mom's that she suggested that we knit dishcloths in the evenings while watching movies. I really liked the sound of that!

My Mom briefly gave me a refresher course on casting on, knitting, etc. It came back to me rather quickly, as I had over the years gotten used the “knit” and to the “purl” stitches. I was so excited to be working on my first dishcloth!

That first dishcloth became the first knitted project that I have completed. I am so proud of that dishcloth, as misshapen as it is!

Here it is, my first completed knitted project (I haven't woven in the ends yet.):










Here is a close up of my knitting from the washcloth:

Addicted to Knitting

Well, that dishcloth got me hooked, and I now consider myself a Knitting Junkie. My Mom is like a knitting pusher who enables my habit. She has given me the knowledge and appreciation of knitting, a lot of yarn, needles, and has even gotten me into Ravelry.com, which is an addiction all to itself. I now take my knitting everywhere I go, and I try to knit during any spare moment (when I can’t do my chores yet my hands are free). I get excited that I may have to wait at the doctor’s office or ride in the car for any length of time, because it means that I get to knit! I am really hooked!

The End of the Beginning

And that is the long and short history of my knitting journey so far. I can’t wait to share with you more details of my first projects, and my new-found love of knitting.

Please visit me and my Mom on www.Ravelry.com . My username: Faith717 My Mom’s Username: KnitAddict934 (See, I told you she was a knitting pusher!)

Have a great night!

Faith

Friday, August 14, 2009

Introduction



Welcome to my blog, A Knitting Journey.

In this blog I will be documenting my journey of knitting as a beginner, on up to whatever level I am able to obtain. I have hopes of someday knitting socks, blankets, shawls, hats, knitting with numerous colors, and more! The sky is the limit. You see, I believe what my Mom taught me, that, "I can do anything I put my mind to." Indeed, Phillipians 4:13 says that, "I can do all things through Christ Jesus Who strengthens me." So, hey! why fear cables, multi colors, 4 needles at one time...as long as I take it one step at a time, I believe, and hope, that I will eventually get there.

I hope that while reading my blog that you will be both inspired and encouraged to knit or begin knitting, and maybe even moved while reading. I will do my best to include interesting material for your enjoyment. Hopefully, I will have more than 1 reader (hi Mom!), but my main goal is to express my joy for knitting, document my journey, and at the same time inspire and teach others.

I would love to have you follow my blog and travel with me on this knitting journey. Be sure to pack your favorite patterns, yarn and needles for the ride. Then again, if you are interested in this blog, I probably don't have to tell you that.

I look forward to discussing knitting with you!
Sincerely,
Faith

First thoughts coming soon

I will be posting my first lines shortly...