Color Me Stymied!

My husband picked out a black yarn for one of his sweaters. Plain, black, yarn. So of course I had to pick out a pattern with decorative stitches! Dad expects the sweater for Christmas 2013 or 14.

The book is

    Traditional Knitting, Patterns of Ireland, Scotland and England

By Gwyn Morgan. Printed in 1980. The pattern I picked out is the Aran Crew Neck Sweater. Easy enough, right? 120 stitches per row, 24 line repeat.

I’ve pulled the darn thing apart 5 times now. I’ve charted it and rewritten the directions on index cards. Then highlighted them. I’ve master t2r and t2l AND t2p. There is no reason that I can’t knit this sweater.

Part of the issue with it, is the pattern itself. Each row is written in paragraph format. It’s one single, long sentence. The picture shows 6 distinct sections/ columns on the sweater. The pattern is in no way divided into those six parts. The lines aren’t clear as you knit. I discovered this while charting it out.

I can’t knit this while the kids are active. There’s no way I am stopping mid-row to get some milk. The project has started looking like my kids’ school work- highlighters, graph paper, pencils…

It will be worth it in the end. For now, I’m going to go watch my boys play games and cuddle with them on the bed.

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Don’t Fear the Reaper… Or Knitting

From birth, we develop fears. Sometimes rational, sometimes not. We learn to fear falling, but then we overcome our fears and learn to run so fast Mom can’t catch us.

Some fears we conquer and some we let slide and hang onto. I still sleep with all my body parts on the bed. No hanging over the edges for me. My husband hates that I typically sleep with one animal in the bed. Yes, my longhair chihuahua will keep me company when we hear a bump in the night. We will tremble together, until we figure out that the bump is just dad crawling into bed in the wee hours of the morning.

Knitting isn’t usually associated with fears, but I know you. I am you, at some point in your knitting career. You go to the store and spot a simply beautiful design and would love to knit it. BUT, you don’t think you have the skill, time or patience to muddle your way through. Something tells you that you can’t do it.

Poppycock! Yes, I said poppycock. Buy the book. Look at the pattern. Upon first reading, it might seem too hard. It may be. My suggestion is to look at the pattern, determine what seems to be above your skill level. Then look for a ‘how to’ book that will help you work your skill up.

A good ‘how to’ will start with simple projects and progress to harder or more difficult patterns. Another option is to check YouTube for videos that teach that skill. Craftsy also offers step by step video classes that walk you from basic to expert topics. If you haven’t signed up at Craftsy, sign up and wait for a sale to get the classes or patterns you want.

When there is something I want to make, I jump in head first. I usually end up in a ‘sink or swim’ situations, but I like swimming. My husband may not appreciate the yells or expletives complete with yarn being tossed down, but he knows I’m a stubborn sort. And I will conquer.

Get your feet wet before you plunge into that pattern, and you might decide you like it. Don’t be afraid to try it. In the immortal words of Peter Pan, ” To die would be an awfully big adventure”. So too is knitting 🙂

Am I off base? Or do you have a knit story to share?

20130320-092850.jpgQueen Victoria refusing to pose. She’s quite an ankle biter.

Times Are A’changin

It’s Monday, after time change. I woke up about four this morning with a back ache. I crawled back under the covers around five thirty.

I started to dream. My house (not any house I’ve ever lived in), was flooding because my husband forgot to put the lid on the dishwasher. It began raining outside, and I had to get the kids to school. The road was closed because there were lions on the loose. I took the kids back home to deal with the mess. I called the school and explained the situation. They said it would be fine, and they understood why we were still at home.

“Momma, it’s time to get up!” my impish son Jamie yelled as he jumped on the bed. I looked at my watch, seven thirty! My oldest had gotten up, fidgeted to wake someone up. So, he woke the twins. Then, knowing he might get in trouble for waking me up, convinced the two imps to come wake me up. The whole process taking 30 minutes.

Then we rushed to school…

A Helping Hand… Or Bat

I used to walk my kids to school. It was smart, healthy, and ecologically conscious. When I started feeling that I needed to carry a baseball bat to remind people that we were crossing the street, I started driving the three or so blocks to school. I’d park and walk my kids to the line up. Then I watched several near misses between kids, parents and vehicles. I went to the office and asked what the —— was going on.

Everyone admitted there was a problem. On an Air Force Base, you’d think it would be nice and orderly. Unfortunately, people are people. Since then, I’ve been to Traffic meetings with all the important people involved. The short answer was that there wasn’t much to be done. But, we did get security forces acting as crossing guards occasionally. And, yours truly starting up a Kiss and Go. I’m still trying to get volunteers, and there have been some great ones. I’ve also redesigned the parking lot, and after the real engineers make it look pretty, we might get a better parking lot next year.

I’m a person who does not like to be touched other than a handshake or hug from a friend. I find myself lifting little girls out of SUVs and helping kids put their jackets on. Tying shoes, avoiding barking dogs of all sizes, and putting up with dads grumpy at their daughters are all daily occurrences. But I also get thank you’s from the Mom’s who have babies to be worked around, small cars where the kids have to put their back packs in the trunk. They smile and wave when they see me. They wait to cross until I can get the traffic through. We’ve cut traffic delays by about 5 minutes. Cutting parental worries and stress has improved not only drop off, but made the crosswalk safer.

The best Valentine’s day card I got was from one of the itty bitty girls who specifically walked up while I was working, as a thanks. I also compliment the kids on unique features. Crazy hair and socks are my favorite. The little girls with sequined poofy skirts, faux hawks on the boys or the one kid that shows up with two moms in a sports car. They all get to feel welcome. No favorites. Moms and Dads get wished ‘Good mornings’ and smiles. I want them to feel good as they drive away, because it makes me feel better when they worry less.

So, when something bugs you, you can bitch about it, or try to help fix it. But in working every morning, I get to feel better knowing that there is a group of people who want to help. It’s a small thing, but it gets me out of bed every morning and in a good mood.

Just like making presents for others makes you feel anticipation for the joy of giving, volunteering shares that glow. If you don’t like dealing with people, there are always things you can donate. Time, money, or knitting. Neonatal Intensive Care Units usually take donated caps, clothes, blankets and unfortunately burial blankets. Cancer wards can always use chemo caps or prayer shawls. There are some charities trying to get knitting machines and yarn into the poorer countries. Look around. You can reach out and touch someone without saying a word.

Packing For an Escape

If you were going to take a road trip, you’d try to pack everything you’d need. Or, maybe you’re the type to fly by the seat of your pants with what you’ve got on you. Either style can fit a knitter.

The efficient knitter makes a list, or uses the one on the pattern. Yarn selected carefully, correct needle size, gauge swatch knitted and blocked. The pattern has been read over several times and annotated.

An impulsive knitter may see a beautiful yarn and just know that they have to have it. The pattern may never exist, they could just knit as they go. It may take a few tries to get the gauge or pattern right, but it will get there eventually. There may be a few extra trips to the store.

Both methods can hit snags or unravelings. Undoubtedly, the well planned project should have fewer, but it all depends on the knitter. Newer knitters tend to choose projects that may be too difficult. Experienced knitters may choose a project that bores them.

The trick is to look at a pattern or project like a trip. You see the destination in your mind. You know what you want it to look like. But before you get to that finished product, you do need to have some sort of map. For the well planned knitter, is it an exciting project for a purpose? Or are you making another darn sweater? For the free flyer, have you done the pattern before? Or can you sketch out your idea? Is there a time line?

I love grabbing a ball of yarn and going to town. Sometimes with an idea of what I’m making, sometimes not. If I am making something for someone, I plan. I’ve made hats off the cuff. My husband also has a sweater with cable ribbing on the inside because I got bored.

Find a way to keep that initial excitement going. If there’s a lot of stockinet stitching, consider adding something to keeping it interesting. For impulse knitters, Keep It Simple Stupid. KISS never fails in knitting or men. Once you try to get complicated, you may find yourself running out of yarn, needing supplies, or simply exhausted from trying to keep up with what stitches you put where.

In either case, take notes! Like taking pictures on a trip, notes will remind you what you liked about the project, what you didn’t like, and what you did or would change. You never know when you might want to do something again.

Happy Knitting!