10 March, 2008

FO: Liesel Scarf

The Liesel Scarf is blocked, unpinned and ready to be giftwrapped to give to my mom on Easter Sunday. Here are the specs...

Pattern: Liesel by Mary Joy Gumayagay

Made For: Mom

Needles: KP Harmony Interchangeables size US8/5.0mm

Fiber: 100% Wool

Fiber Weight: Worsted

Fiber Brand: Lion Wool by Lion Brand

Colorway: Winter White

Fiber Amount: 271 Meters (296 yards)

Finished Size: 150cm (59") x 23cm (9")

09 March, 2008

Liesel Scarf

Well I finally managed to complete Mary Joy Gumayagay's Liesel scarf. I am very pleased with the project, the pattern is well written and no problem to figure out, although I had some trouble at the beginning with the SK2PO (slip one stitch, knit two stitches together, pass slipped stitch over), I can't remember what I assumed it meant but my knitting posse at Men Who Knit cleared everything up for me.

Don't think it was all wine and roses, Liesel and I started off on the wrong foot. This was my first "big boy" pattern, life before Liesel was all knit, purl and not much else. I was determined to get through this however. I started Liesel on some aluminum (I don't like metal), straights which were the only thing I had at the time in that size. What resulted was bursts of progress and then a mistake of some sorts would send the thing flying into the frog pond. "Great" I thought, I would have to lock myself up like a hermit if I were to ever make some serious progress with this (that's when I learned about using a lifeline). Then something new came along to halt this project, I ordered my KnitPicks Options Interchangeable Harmony Wood Circular Knitting Needle Set, surely after frogging it yet again I could wait until my fancy new needles arrived and dump those aluminum straights. Well, as it turns out the size I needed for the Liesel Scarf was in place and I was happily knitting away when I found there was a defect in one of the tips which snagged unrelentingly at the wool. So another wait was eminent, thankfully Knit Picks took care of the problem in no time at all. Finally, with no more excuses, Liesel was under way toward the end of February. As I type this entry, it is done. Liesel is blocking on my ironing board right this very moment, as a matter of fact, my hands are still pruny and smell of wool wash.

As a beginner, I learned some good lessons from this pattern. Here's a little rundown...
  • When dealing with patterns composed of various stitches/techniques, keep count of your stitches! I double checked at the end of each row that I had the correct number on the needles. I also went through each row of the pattern and wrote down the number of stitches that should be left on the needles at completion of that row. This made life so much easier.

  • I made myself a large-type printout of this pattern in an easy to read font with lots of space between rows. I put said pattern on my clipboard and was ready for action (this stopped me from knitting half of row 6 and finishing it with half of row 7).

  • SK2PO means Slip One Stitch, Knit Two Stitches Together, Pass Slipped Stitch Over

  • Using a lifeline is as vital as the name suggests. I used a length (not too short or it may pull through) of black cotton embroidery floss after each pattern repeat. This way if I had to frog, I only had to rip down to the string which also let me know how my stitches should go back on the needles. I used embroidery floss as it is less likely to get in the way when knitting the row above it, embroidery floss also doesn't (shouldn't) shed, getting odd colored fibers into your work. Think about it, why would you want to frog an entire project when you could get away with frogging only a couple of rows?

  • The felted join is a fabulous way to start a new ball (assuming that the yarn you are using can be felted)

  • Knitting the tail of your Cast On into your work with the first couple stitches (no need to weave in one end at least).

  • Duplicate Stitching as a means to neatly weave in the remaining yarn end(s).

  • And finally, I've learned that my ironing board isn't such a great blocking board. I really need to come up with something different.

All in all I am very happy with my Liesel scarf. This is the first project I am super proud of. I will post some specs as well as pictures of the finished scarf soon. Also, to my fellow newbie knitters; dive in the deep end. I highly recommend it. Choose a project that seems just a bit too advanced for you and get yourself through it no matter what. I guaranty you will be pleased with the lessons you've learned.

05 March, 2008

Knitting Lamp

I had entertained the idea of purchasing a Full Color Spectrum - Daylight craft lamp (OTT-Lite for example), to use while knitting as my household lighting is more on the decorative side and less on the practical side.

I had a few reservations about this idea however...

  • Cost - most major brands are quite costly

  • Style - Some are just plain ugly, OTT-Lite makes some attractive models but... (see above entry)

  • Availability - I have no place in my area to purchase one in person, therefore not only would I be buying a $200 lamp but I would be paying to ship the thing as well

  • Replacement Bulbs - some of said lamps cost up to $30 just to replace a bulb (though bulb changes are said to be infrequent), not to mention shipping charges as availability is yet again an issue.

Well, as is my usual way; I improvised. I browsed the light bulb selection at my local Wal-Mart and found that GE makes an Energy Smart Daylight bulb. I figured if this didn't work out I would just put them to use somewhere in the house. I found them to be just the solution I was looking for for several reasons...

  • Color Clarity - the bulbs stood up to the test against swatches, yarns, color charts, embroidery floss, really anything I could find that illustrated subtle color variation
  • Cost - Don't quote me on it but I'm pretty sure I paid under $10 for a two pack

  • Availability - if they have them in my town they surely have them in yours too. This also solves the replacement bulb problem with other craft lamps. Not to mention you can use them in any standard lighting fixture, no need to purchase a special lamp.

All in all I am totally pleased with these bulbs as a knitting lamp. They give clean, bright light and allow me to see true colors while working. They are compact fluorescent bulbs which are available in several wattages so they can also save money on your power bill.

In closing I should state that this tip is not to suggest that the aforementioned GE bulbs are equal to OTT-Lite or similar craft lamps. I have not used another brand of craft lamp, so I really couldn't ascertain similarities in their performance. I have however found this to be a personally suitable solution and the best light by which I have knitted. I merely offer this as a suggestion for persons such as myself who find the price and availability of such lamps prohibitive.

My Favorite NPR Spot: The Writer's Almanac