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 😎

What have I Done??

Well it seems that the craze going around the knitting blogs right now is this survey of what you have/want to/ and will do in the past/present/future. Basically its a long list of things related to knitting. The idea is that you are to copy it and bold the items you’ve done, italicize the ones you plan to do, and leave the rest normal type (the ones you don’t plan on doing). Normally I’m not one for this kind of thing but I thought this would be kind of fun. Its also interesting to see what other people are doing. Below is my list …

Bold for stuff you’ve done, italics for stuff you plan to do one day, and normal for stuff you’re not planning on doing.

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL (KAL is Knit-A-Long for those that don’t know)
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffitti knitting: knitting items on, or to be left on the street
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Teaching a child to knit
Knitting to make money
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting

Household items: dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…
Knitting socks- or other small tubular items- on two circulars
Dyeing with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Olympic knitting
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit

Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn

Knitting art
Knitting with wool

Textured knitting
Kitchener BO
Knitting with beads

Long Tail CO
Entre-lac Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Knitting with cashmere

Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen

Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm-warmers

Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Rug Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets

Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

What does your list look like?

Hugzzz 😎

Everything I know I learned from knitting …

Okay, well maybe not everything. But quite a bit and even more as I get older. Here’s a few for now and maybe later I’ll post more …

1. A slip is not always a bad thing

A slip as in slip knot is the best way to get things started. Sometimes, when you first meet someone and you need a conversation starter, there’s a slip of the tongue as you fumble for the right thing to say. That leads to you laughing at yourself and putting the other person at ease.

A slipped stitch, when done intentionally is not a mistake and can create a beautiful design in a piece of work. In life, sometimes its a good thing to make an intentional mistake show how fallible you are.

2. If at first you don’t succeed, just frog it … there’s nothing wrong with starting over. Whether that means going back a few stitches, a few rows, or the whole darn thing. Starting over can give you a new perspective not only on your knitting project, but whatever challenge you have in front of you. That is if you were paying attention and have learned from the mistake that caused you to frog it in the first place.

3. Variety is the spice of life … knitting with the same yarn, same color, or same needles all the time gets very boring – quickly! Just like in knitting, changing what you’re working with (or who) creates endless possibilities in endless variations. Push that bubble and see what you can create – take a plunge and say hello to somebody new.

4. Everybody needs to make sure they get enough fiber! I think this one is self explanatory and even more so for knitters.

5. A good foundation is the key … if your cast on edge isn’t good, well your stitches may just unravel on you. In life this is true in almost anything. Relationships, careers, personal health, you name it. If you make sure the foundation is strong, the rest will thrive.

6. One stitch at a time gets the job done … it would be great if we could cast on our stitches and then just magically knit all the stitches we need at the same time. Well, I’m sure you know by now that’s not how it works in life either. There’s nothing wrong with doing it one stitch at a time – its therapeutic and it allows you time to enjoy the process and the journey. Same in life. When was the last time you took the time to enjoy a really good meal – I mean chewing every bite and enjoying the euphoria of flavors in your mouth? Or took the time to enjoy a good walk? Or a good read? Or a good kiss? Think about it and try and slow down … you’ll still get there, but you’ll have more memories when you arrive!

7. With just two stitches, you have a world of possibilities  or It takes two to make a thing go right … Isn’t it amazing what you can create with just a knit stitch and purl stitch? Isn’t it amazing what a computer can do with just a “1” and a “0”. Isn’t it amazing what two people can create together? Sometimes, the only thing you need to get the job done is one other person.

8. Size matters … If anybody tells you differently, they’re lying! If size didn’t matter, all needles would be the same size, yarn would be the same thickness, and we wouldn’t have to make another tension swatch – EVER! I’ll leave you to ponder the implications here.

9. It takes balls to knit … this should probably be first since its also my blog title, but as things would have it, its listed ninth. No biggie. It really does take balls to knit, as with anything else in life that you decide to do. I mean, think about it. Its easiest to just stay in bed and do nothing. But if you want to actually accomplish anything in life, you actually have to take a chance and try it.

10. Stereotyping is passe … If you told me 15 years ago I would be blogging about knitting I would have told you you were crazy. If you’d told me that the best golfer in the world would be black or one of the most popular rappers would be white I’d have laughed at you. If you’d told me any of a number of things where stereotyping was the norm … well you get the idea. Its a new decade and time we woke up and smelled the coffee. Anybody can do anything. They just have to have the balls to actually go out and do it!

Hugzzz 😎