A lesson learned …

You’d think that after making several sweaters I’d have learned the lesson of writing everything down! Well, I haven’t – hadn’t – yet. Let’s hope I have now. Remember the sweater that I said I would probably have finished very soon and have pictures up for? The one from the swatch on the post two days ago? Well, yesterday I was on set and not very busy at all. I have gotten very creative in terms of ways of getting knitting done between takes including taking it on set and just hiding it out of camera sight between takes. I had started the last sleeve yesterday morning on my way to set (I take public transit – don’t worry) and was surprised by how much I was able to get finished in a short space f time. I had just finished the other sleeve the night before and forgot how easy the beginning was. Anyway, my increases on the sleeve change from every 4 rows to every 6 rows. I thought I remembered where, but I didn’t realize how quickly I was knitting.

I decided to do a stitch count at one point and realized I had done too many rows. I ripped back a few and it was at that point that I realized I couldn’t remember when I was to switch to every 6 rows. I pulled out my notebook where I keep notes only to discover that I hadn’t written it down. I had virtually everything else except that vital piece of information! To make matters worse, I hadn’t brought the other sleeve. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t brought anything else as I hadn’t thought I would have the time I did. As t turned out, had I been better prepared, this post would be about a FO instead of me learning a lesson. I had time to finish the entire sweater and sewing the sleeves in place and all! So now I’m hoping the same thing happens today and I’m able to post pictures of the finished project early tomorrow.

I also hope that you can learn from my lesson as well. Just as it is important to always make sure you ave your pattern with you, it’s equally as important to make sure you have all your notes in one place and that you write down everything. Since I’m designing this sweater, I really need to pay attention to this. My usual style is organized chaos with my notes all over the place. In fact, I did find the notes on the sleeve increases in another location when i got home. They are now together in the same place and will be this way in the future. On the bright side though, I did manage to use some of that spare time to refresh someone on how to cast on. Today they’re getting a lesson on how to do the knit and purl stitch. Another knitter in the ranks …

Hugzzz 😎

Knitting pet peeves …

Yes, it had to come out sooner or later, so I thought I would get it out of the way sooner rather than later. Everybody has pet peeves, especially about something they do. Well, knitters are no different. I actually have pet peeves in a few other areas too, but since this is a knitting blog, I’ll let you know my peeves regarding that. Again, I’m not meaning to offend anybody but I say call a spade a spade. So if you’re the sensitive type you might want to skip over this post. I’ll revert back to the lovable Mr. Hugzzz tomorrow – promise. Maybe.

  1. I am NOT gay … Okay, the simple fact that I even has to say this show just one of the problems with our society. I don’t have a problem with anybody’s sexuality – and they shouldn’t with mine – and I don’t judge anybody because of their sexuality. So why should you prejudge me because of a specific activity I do? Grow up people – there are lots of places where men knit prominently – and they don’t have to be gay to do it. Actually, I applaud the gay guys out there that knit. They have the balls to knit whenever and wherever it suits them. Maybe if more straight guys came out of the closet it would be a different story. Yes, you know you are. That is a challenge … pull out your needles guys. Everybody else – read my other post about everything I learned and check #10.
  2. I WILL NOT make you a sweater for the cost of the yarn – If I had a dime for every time I heard that one. People, it takes talent and TIME to knit as well as I do. I have been doing this for over 15 years. Even if you are just starting (maybe especially so) it takes time to make somebody a sweater. Everything else in life gets paid by experience – except artisans it seems. Well, if you want a cheap sweater go to a thrift store. I am not going to invest 30 – 60 hours of my time for just anybody. Slightly better are the people that offer $100 on top of that. Again, NO. Think about it. 40 hours of work for $100. That’s $2.50/hour. Would you work for that? I do not run a sweat shop and never will.
  3. $10 scarves at craft fairs – Okay, if you need an explanation for this one you haven’t read #2 well enough. Folks, $10 can’t buy the yarn for a decent scarf (at regular prices). Yes, I’m a bit of a yarn snob and I could probably find yarn for $10 for a scarf, but that takes a bit of searching and a lot of luck. So now that we have that cleared up, again, it takes about 5 – 10 hours to make a scarf (sometimes more). Personally, I think all scarves should start at $75 and then go up. Sorry, did I lose you? Don’t ask for my prices on a custom hand knit sweater.
  4. Closet knitters – I take public transit as it allows me time to get a lot of things done – the crossword, Scrabble, Sudoku, and yes, KNITTING! You would be amazed how often I am knitting away on a bus and somebody comes up to me and says “That’s cool – I used to knit!” Yeah, right. More like they think its cool that I knit – and have the guts to do it in public. If you’re a knitter, you’re a knitter. Don’t come up to me and try and re-live your glory days. If you knit, take out your needles and knit.
  5. Cheap yarn – by cheap I don’t mean inexpensive – I mean low quality, cheap. I understand that not everybody can afford silk and cashmere and lots of other fancy stuff. That is no reason to settle for cheap synthetics. With a little bit of research and hunting you can find real good bargains on really good quality yarns. Everybody should learn to knit with wool and move on from there. If you’re allergic try superwash wool – its been treated to prevent shrinking but a by-product is the removal of the common allergens in it. You wouldn’t believe the bargains I have found.
  6. Phentex slippers – I have a friend – a  male knitter who also is not gay (lol) – who swears by these Phentex slippers. If you’re over 30 you probably know what I mean. If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of knitting with this you are probably cringing right now. I know Acrylic is not a good fiber for the environment, or for baby clothes (it doesn’t burn but actually melts which can be more hazardous than the fire), but it does have its uses and there is no reason why it should feel like coarse grade sandpaper. Yes, apparently it gets softer after being washed 1 million times – or so. Ugggghhh!
  7. Knots in Yarn – If you’re knitted more than a scarf you’ve probably come across a ball of yarn with a knot in it. I still don’t know why they can’t just junk the ball or in some way warn you that there’s a knot in it. It’s not too bad when it’s a yarn that you can spit-felt together, but when it’s not and there’s more than one knot in more than one ball, it’s a royal pain in the a**.

Those are a few for now … as time goes by I will add some more. I’m also hoping to have the sweater that I designed from the swatches in the post two days ago done. I’ll put up pictures. In the meantime, let me know your peeves.

Hugzzz 😎

Girlfriends come and go but knitting is forever …

If you’re a knitter right now you’re probably laughing your head off as you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the Boyfriend or Girlfriend Sweater Curse.  What is that? The Curse (as its commonly referred to by knitters) is simply that if you knit a sweater for a partner with whom you are not married, the relationship will end. Truth or fiction? You can call it what you may and take it or leave it, but I’m not one to take it lightly.  I have heard dozens of stories where it is in fact truth and only a few to dispute it. It has even happened to me – both giving and receiving. I actually made three sweaters for one EX-girlfriend! I started dating my EX-wife after I made her a knitted dress for a wedding she was going to. Yes, I did use the term ex.

So what’s this curse really all about? Well, there are psychologists that will give you one reason or another as to why the relationship didn’t work with none of them having anything to do with knitting. According to some of them, a knitted sweater shows a significant commitment that not everybody is ready for. Giving somebody a hand-knit sweater too early in a relationship can hint at signs of desperation. If the partner is not on the same wavelength as you , well, we all know what happens next. Another explains that giving a sweater is sometimes used to save a relationship in the same manner that having a child is used to try and save a marriage.  Too bad you can’t knit together a relationship as easily as a sweater. In both cases, the relationship was doomed and then blamed on something having nothing to do with the real problems of the relationship itself. Yet another says that some people simply don’t live in the real world and are not seeing their relationship as it is. After the relationship ends, its easy to blame it on The Curse.

Some knitters have been wise enough to use The Curse to their advantage however. They use the sweater as a barometer to see how the relationship is going. By seeing the reaction to the sweater and appreciation of the work involved and time spent, most will be able to tell if the partner is a keeper. The average sweater has over 100,000 stitches and you might not want to devote that kind of time to making something that someone may not like. For this reason its a good idea to feel out the partner and make sure its something they will appreciate. I’ve heard a story of a girl that knit a sweater for a guy who said he loved it, wore it once, then used it for a dog-blanket afterward. I don’t think they stayed together very long after the discovery. I guess if you want to end a relationship but don’t want to dea with the confrontation thing you could always use The Curse to assist you as well.

So what’s the final verdict? This knitter for one is now very careful who he makes sweaters for. As a matter of fact, if you want me to make you a sweater I would be more than happy to – as long as you can pay the asking price. Either that or be exactly the kind of woman I’m looking for and marry me. After that, you can have as many as you like … Do you have a curse story? If so, leave it in the comments section. I’d love to hear it!

“I mean that my heart unto yours is knit, so that but one heart we can make of it.” Author : William Shakespeare

Hugzzz 😎

A Grand design …

When designing in knitting, like it a lot of things in life, it’s about planning. I sometimes have problems with this because I tend to be a little spontaneous – okay, a lot spontaneous. In the area of designing however, I am working on it and making strides. It all starts with an idea and from there a swatch of that idea. For the longest time I never did swatches – hated doing them. I was too anxious to start making the sweater. I learned my lesson when doing the sweater you see me wearing in my profile picture. I actually made this sweater 2 and a half times! I made one that was too small that my girlfriend at the time got. I started another after adjusting my needles accordingly (still no swatch though) and finished the back before I realized it was going to be waaaaay too big. So I did a swatch and got it right the next time. Now I have two really good reasons (besides getting the right size) that I tell people for doing swatches.

  1. I sew the swatch on the inside of the sweater (when possible) in an inconspicuous place. This way if the sweater ever gets ripped or a small hole develops for some reason, you have a swatch of yarn that is a perfect match for the one used on the sweater. I have darned enough sweaters to let you know that while you may never use this tip, its a good one to do. Especially when working with an uncommon or expensive yarn.
  2. I make scarves out of the swatches. Swatches are small and sometimes don’t give you the right feel of how the garment will look and drape when finished. I love scarves and find that doing a scarf with a particularly interesting pattern is a great way to get that feel. When its finished you’ll also have a matching scarf to go with that great sweater you’re going to make!

Needless to say though, when you’re designing a sweater (or any other garment) the swatch is essential. It contains all the necessary information you’re going to need to make the garment. Since you’re the designer, you have to do the leg work so that someone else can just pick up your pattern and make the garment. Size matters. If you pick up a ball of yarn, there is information on it regarding the recommended gauge of the yarn and what size needles used to obtain it. It’s usually done over a 4×4 inch (10×10 cm) grid. Sometimes that’s enough (stocking stitch) and sometimes it’s not (a Saxon Braid Cable pattern). This is why I like to make scarves as well. I can block a scarf to get a better feel for it and also more accurate measurements. I should have done this when making the Adam’s Rib sweater (see previous post from Jan 16). I learned a valuable lesson about designing ribbed sweaters on that one! Its never a bad thing to go bigger than asked or expected – at least in knitting. You may be surprised at the ideas you get from swatches as well. When designing a current sweater I got a great idea for a scarf by turning the swatch upside down. Once I actually do it (finishing the sweater right now) I’ll put up some pictures of it.

Here are some pictures of the swatches that I used. You’ll notice that one of the swatches has quite a few different textures on it. That’s because the finished sweater is actually going to be a Guernsey style and will have all the textures in it. It’s important to calculate the correct gauge with all the different textures in the sweater so that you can calculate the correct number of stitches needed. With this particular sweater there is also a swatch for the plain patterning of the bottom of the Guernsey. This also provides filler for the stitches needed on either edge of the aran pattern at the top. I’ve finished the back, front, and neck of the sweater and am now working on the sleeves (a little trickier) so I’ll post some pictures of the completed sweater by the end of the week (I guess I’ll have to finish it now). Keep your needles poised and your eyes posted for part two coming soon …

Hugzzz 😎

Adam's Rib …

Madam, I’m Adam. As well as possibly being the first words spoken by one person to another, the previous sentence is an example of a Palindrome. It reads the same forward and backwards. In knitting, its a reversible fabric. It can get really challenging when you’re doing it with cables, but very simple when you’re doing a rib. Most ribs are reversible, but they’re not exact palindromes as they’re not exactly the same on the reverse. A 2×2 rib is a true palindrome as it is the same on both sides. A 3×2 rib wouldn’t be however. It’s reversible, but would be a 2×3 rib on the reverse. I have just finished a sweater for a friend of mine done in a very interesting rib I call Adam’s Rib. Most people know it as the Broken Rib but I don’t like this name at all. It’s a 4 stitch repeat pattern of the following: one row of stocking stitch, seed stitch, reverse stocking stitch, and seed stitch. I have seen the pattern instructions for it in two forms: 4 sts +1 and 4 sts +3. Both variations require an odd number of stitches but once you break it down and know what it is supposed to look like you can do it over any number of stitches of 4 or more.

The back of the first sweater ...

I decided I would do a sweater with raglan sleeves in this rib because I liked the way it looked. I had actually started such a sweater quite a few years ago but it had two rows of stocking stitch and as such wasn’t a true palindrome. Here’s a picture of the back of it. The detail picture shows the reverse of this rib which I actually liked better than the front. Later on I would find the pattern for the Broken (Adam’s) Rib which looked more like the reverse.

The back of the back ...

This is not the reason why it’s in Area 51 though – I just didn’t like the way it was coming out so I stopped working on it. I’ll probably frog it and make a scarf sometime. Anybody want a bright red scarf ?

Anyway, I got my hands on a really nice chunky wool yarn the other day in a milk chocolate brown. I did a swatch in the Adam’s Rib pattern, made my necessary calculations, and started knitting. This sweater turned out to be a learning experience. I knit it up quite quickly while I was working on set (I work as an extra sometimes in the movies) and even managed to make a pair of mittens for a girl who was smitten by the color of the wool. As it turned out though, I made a slight miscalculation on my swatch. Since it is a rib, the swatch gathered in. I stretched it to what I thought looked good and took my measurements from that. The problem is that a 4×4 swatch stretches differently from a 18×23 swatch. Needless to say, the finished product was a little small for me – okay, a lot small. This is where Mike comes in. I instantly thought of him because he was the right build for it, and also this color was perfect for him. So he now has a brown Adam’s Rib sweater and I will endeavor to make another for myself. I did his from the bottom up but I will do mine from the top down in three colors. I plan to have it finished next week sometime and will put the pattern on Ravelry. You can find me on there under mrhugzzz.

Mike's sweater ...
Mike’s sweater …

Now, about that scarf …

Hugzzz 😎