Posts Tagged 'knitting'

Expand Your Knitting Horizons (My First Giveaway!)

Okay, so you’ve picked up your Knitting Stitches Dictionary and you’ve mastered the basics: You can cast on, you can knit, and you can purl. You can even combine knit stitches and purl stitches in different ways and get really cool results. What now?

Well, it’s time to practice some more. Do you want to try some color work? Some cabling? How about knitting on four needles? I have just the book you need: Learn to Knit by Sue Whiting.

Learn to Knit on Amazon.comThis is a great book for the Intermediate or Advanced knitter. The introduction is full of reminders of the basics, from fixing common mistakes to shaping and finishing your work. The book has clear diagrams and photographs throughout, including 20 “simple” projects. Just a note: the first project, a pot holder rated at one star (least difficult) is worked in three colors with slip stitching. Other projects include sweaters, gloves, and even a pair of boot socks.

I’m giving away one copy of this little book on Sunday, April 4th 2010. There are three ways to enter:

1. Subscribe to this blog by clicking on “Subscribe in a Reader” on the right-hand side. (Or Subscribe to The Landlocked Sailor by Email)
2. Follow @landlockedsailr (note spelling) on Twitter–you can use the Twitter button on the right, too.
3. Fan The Landlocked Sailor on Facebook
The next step is very important: Comment on this blog post and tell me how you entered. Each person can enter up to three times, once per method (subscribe, follow, or fan). Also leave contact info (Your Twitter @name at least) so I can notify you if you win!

One winner will be chosen at random on Sunday, 4 April 2010. Winner will be announced via Twitter and http://www.thelandlockedsailor.com on Monday, the 5th. If prize is not claimed within 48 hours, another name will be drawn. Happy knitting!

Sarita Li
aka The Landlocked Sailor

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Knitting Without Patterns

So… you knit. It’s fun, right? It’s relaxing, it’s rewarding… and sometimes it’s frustrating.

When I first started knitting, I just knit a row, purl a row, knit a row, purl a row. It’s called the Stockinette Stitch, and it makes a smooth side (covered in V’s) and a bumpy side. It also curls up on the edges, so I had a lot of scarves that wanted to twist themselves into tubes. I liked them.

Red Baby Bibs in Two Different Styles

Red Baby Bibs in Two Different Styles

After getting a lot of practice with the basic stitches, making scarves and potholders and wash cloths, you’ll probably want to branch out into something new. You head to the yarn store, and start browsing their shelves for wonderful, beautiful, complex knitting patterns. This can be overwhelming and, in the end, discouraging. I propose an intermediate step, which will not only lessen your frustration level, but also make you a stronger knitter in the long run.

Instead of a pattern book, find yourself a Stitch Dictionary. There’s even a Field Guide to Knitting, which helps you identify stitches you find out in nature (I mean.. uh… all around you).

Now, instead of jumping into some complex project that you’re never going to finish, try your old standards: a washcloth, a scarf, a baby blanket, in different stitches that you find in your Stitch Dictionary. You’ll learn that a knit done in garter stitch is reversible and doesn’t curl up on the edges, but maybe you won’t like the way it looks (both sides are the “bumpy” side). Find another reversible stitch, and try it. Keep going until you find some that your really like. Mark the pages. Take notes. Practice increases and decreases. Practice casting on at the beginning and at the end of a row.

As you work through different stitch methods, you’ll learn the texture and behavior of each one. Later, when you go to make your first pair of arm/wrist warmers, you might run across a simple pattern that has a stretchy ribbing at the cuff. Not only will you understand why ribbing is used, you’ll be able to modify the pattern if you want to, knowing that you’ll have to substitute a different rib stitch instead of a non-elastic decorative stitch. If you want to make the item longer, you’ll know how to adapt the increases and decreases to fit your own arm.

Once you understand and have a feel for the different textures and behaviors of different knit stitches, you’ll be on your way designing your own knits!

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When Two Wrongs Do Make a Right

I hate throwing away yarn. In fact, I never do it. When I go through my stash and find an “Oh my goodness what was I thinking” yarn, I set it aside to donate. I might even get around to actually donating it.

But this week, I was going through my cotton yarns, and I found a whole lot of an odd brown color. My first thought was, “Yuck, What was I thinking?” Upon closer inspection, I realized that the “odd” brown really looked like seine twine, or fishing net. It could even be seaweed. Hmmm… sounds nautical. Maybe that’s what I was thinking when I bought it. On the next shelf was a big cone of variegated cream/light brown cotton with an almost pink shade to it. It just barely missed the mark of being pretty. Again, “What was I thinking?”

Then I had an idea: I wonder what these two weird yarns would look like if I worked them together? So I turned on my favorite old Clark Gable movie and went to work. Voila! I LOVE the effect! What do you think?

Two yarns worked together.

At Last!

Instruments of the Art
I have always wanted to sew.

When I was little, my mom had this great sewing machine that was hardly ever used. Well, I don’t know if it was actually great, but I thought it was AWESOME because it would *pop* right out of the sewing table and be ready to use. I sold that sewing machine at a garage sale to raise money for a preaching expedition when I was 16 or so, having never learned to use it.

In my early 20s, I got on a sewing kick and learned how to read patterns. I got busy sewing (by hand!) a simple dress for a little girl I knew, but my stitches seemed like they’d unravel if you just looked at them too intensely. I gave up.

Now, 13 years after selling that crazy pop-up contraption, I finally have my very own Pfaff 296, which I hear is a great machine. I can’t wait to start playing with it. I’ve always had this fear that if I used a sewing machine, I’d sew right through my fingers. I’m determined to get over that terror.

Ironing is another thing that has always been a mystery to me. My mother never let my sisters and me buy any clothes that would need ironing. The only way we knew to get wrinkles out was to spray the item down with water, and throw it in the dryer. The end. Wrinkles magically disappeared. Unfortunately, as a knitter, I need to block my knits, which often requires ironing. (I have also been terrified of irons– I always thought they would burn me and stick to my skin and I would die.)

Last week I did all my blocking on the floor, on top of a thick towel. Imagine me there with my head on the floor trying to make sure not to touch the knit fabric as I steamed it. Hmmm… I thought. So this is why people have ironing boards! If blocking didn’t take so long to dry, I’d use my kitchen table. But, come to think of it, it’s already covered with random things including a rigid heddle loom.

It’s going to be difficult to complete sewing projects without an iron. So last night, I was at Jo-Ann Crafts and I saw the COOLEST ironing board cover! It’s marked up with a sewing guide– 1″ grid, bias lines, measuring tape… It’s wonderful! I bought it, and then decided I’d better go get an ironing board.

So, here I am, all ready to go. I’ve got my sewing machine, my tomato full of pins, an iron, an ironing board, some fabric remnants that struck my fancy, and no idea how to operate my sewing machine.

One step at a time.

At Least Three Things I Learned From Failing to Reach My Goals

So my “Bags and Purses” Etsy Showcase is ending in fewer than thirty minutes.

Did I reach my goal of creating and listing at least four new bags in forty-eight hours? No.

Did I gain something from this experience? Yes. I did actually design four new bags, and I am in the middle of experimenting with a no-washing-machine felting technique for one of them. (More on the felting experiment in a future post.) I also learned about rhythm, which I’m going to need to perfect if I’m going to make this Etsy shop fly. I also learned that it is silly to start up a store during the first week of classes when I am a full time student!

On the other hand, maybe doing this during all the rush and confusion of a new semester was a good idea. After all, I got a real feel for what I’ve gottn myself into, running a business and going to school. Jumping in like this was probably a much better idea than waiting for the “perfect opportunity,” you know, that opportunity that never really comes.

Whadd’ya think? Did I pass or did I fail?

p.s. Regarding the photo above: No, it’s not a bib. It’s the nautical flag “Papa,” or “Blue Peter,” in a less-than traditional Baby Blue.

9 New Bags in 26 Hours– Can I Do It?

Two days ago, on a whim, I purchased an “Etsy Showcase” spot.

At the time, I had a vague idea of what that meant– a paid spot somewhere on Etsy, and probably showing up more often in search results, over a period of 24 hours. I randomly picked the next available 24 hour spot, which begins approximately 26 hours from now. I am not at all sure why I thought this was a good idea; I only have two, poorly photographed, mediocre items in my Etsy shop anyway.

After I made the $7 purchase, I decided to read the fine print. I looked through the site, asking myself: “What really is an Etsy Showcase?”

I found out that the Showcase will feature ten of my items (did I mention I’ve only listed two?) And… whoops! I purchased it in the “Bags and Purses” category. (Only one of my two items is a bag/purse.)

I figure I have two options: 1) “Eh, it’s only seven bucks. I’ve made bigger mistakes.” 2) “Oh my gosh I have to design and produce nine more bags to get the most out of my seven dollars and save face in front of the Etsy world!”

Well, maybe I have a third option. I’m not really motivated to try and save face. I’d much rather laugh at myself and say “Oops!” While at the same time trying to make the best of the situation. My goal is to create and list at least four more bags (for a grand total of five) before the end of the 24 hour period (that is, by the end of Wednesday, January 13th). That gives me closer to 48 hours to complete the entire project, which is a good thing, because in the time it’s taken me to write this post, half of one precious hour has flown by!

Whadd’ya think? More cotton “Market” type bags? Teeny tiny wristlets? Or should I give myself a crash course in felting? On the other hand, my current wool stash is a bit drab, maybe it is best to stick to cotton…

The Landlocked Sailor is ALIVE!!!

I finally got up the nerve to open up my Etsy store: thelandlockedsailor.etsy.com

I’ve been putting it off for so many (imagined) reasons: I’m not that skilled; I don’t know much about business/sales; Nobody makes money doing what they love; I have to build up a HUGE inventory first; What if no one likes my designs? What if I don’t sell anything? What if I DO sell stuff, and I get overwhelmed?

I realize that I am as afraid of success as I am of failure, if not more so. I’m SO TIRED of being afraid!

Three years ago, I was accepted to the Art Institute of Seattle, in the Media Arts and Animation program. I had terrible credit and no cosigner for student loans, and it’s not an inexpensive school! I had no idea how I could make it go. I didn’t believe in my portfolio enough to even apply for a merit-based scholarship. I quickly became overwhelmed, gave up on myself, and ran away to sea.

Now here I am in the middle of Indiana, still dreaming daily of Seattle and the sea, and going to school locally (now an Ed major). My creative urges have not gone away just because I have tried to starve them to death. I still have a million ideas every day and I believe that they deserve a chance to live and breath in the real world. So, sketchbook in hand and eyes wide open, here I go!

Whadd’ya think?

Pirates at Play