Friday, April 29, 2011

Great American Aran Afghan WIP

I wish I had started this blog last Fall.  I have been knitting off and on for about the last 3 years, but last Fall I decided to make myself my first Knitted Afghan.  This is to be a gift for my son, James, who is graduating from high school this June.  I decided to make The Great American Aran Afghan, by Knitter's Magazine.  Wow, for someone who could sort of make socks, and had taught herself how to cable, this was a really ambitious idea.  

I bought the book, and yarn (green because he didn't want a cream one), and started with the easiest blocks.  Since this blog is really a way to review what I am learning about knitting, organize what I am learning, and think about what I am learning... all in order to learn MORE about knitting, it would have been great to have a record of just what I learned!  Because, knitting this afghan has taught me tons about knitting.

A quick recap of some of what I learned:
1. How to read a chart:  Yes, at the beginning, I had to read the line-by-line instructions.  It took me forever to feel comfortable reading Right - Left on the Right Side rows, then Left-Right on the Wrong Side rows.

2. Cable symbols:  I had to double check each cable symbol for instructions.  Now, on my 11th square, I can see the symbol, and know if I am pulling over or under, 1 stitch or 2, purling or knitting, unless it is a complicated pull.  

3. Bobbles and Popcorns:  I have made these many times in crochet, and each square (and designer) seems to use a different method, but Yay, there are knitted bobbles and popcorns on my afghan.

4. Weird constructions:  One square (by Jay Campbell) started with the outermost row and was knit in the "square" (round), towards the center; another (by Kathleen T. Carty), started with a knit border, then the inside was picked up, and knitted in the "square" to the center.

5. Pictures:  The square by Judy Sumner has a spider and leaves in the design.  This was fascinating to me as I have some ideas of my own for afghan squares involving trees of the Pacific Northwest, and Children's Lit, but no idea of how to construct them.

Anyway, I am now on the square designed by Vicki Sever, and am finding it a pretty fast knit because it is SO SIMPLE!  I am still making the occasional mistake, but I understand the directions much faster now, and this allows me to move forward rather than reading and rereading how to do every weird stitch.

So, good things about this project are that I am learning a ton, each square is its own project, so very "doable," and James will have a fabulous gift.  The only down side is that it is a very long term project for a slow knitter, and the more I knit, the more interested I am in trying other things.  I have taken a break from this afghan to make a few things, the Dr. Who Scarf for my friend Ael, and some slippers for my god children, but I am really itching to try out my new 2 at a time sock technique.  I am making myself finish at least the square I am working on before I start something else.  James graduates in June and leaves for college in Sept.  I HAVE A DEADLINE =)


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why I Like Toe Up Socks 4/28/11

I finshed the bear booties yesterday

I was able to try them on the bear to check fit

This feature of Toe Up, is my favorite!

I don't really like the way the toe looks on these.  I can't get a good photo right now, but I might post one when I figure out if it was MY knitting that caused the ridge, or the method.  I sooo hope it was my knitting, because the magic cast on in 2-at-a-Time Toes Up, is really wonderful.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why the Name?

April 27, 2011
I started my first blog without explaining the title.  Why?  No explanation because I assume this will be more of a diary than a shared experience, so, why explain to myself.  However, since I am likely to forget the reason... I should say, SlowKnitter:  I knit slowly.  Seems obvious.  

I knit slowly because:
I am relatively new to knitting.
I tend to knit when I am waiting (in the carpool line, doctors' waiting rooms, at the ballet studio, etc.)
I am learning new techniques.

I could have named this blog:  SlowWriter (in fact I thought of naming it that, or SlowPoet).
I have never followed through with a journal.  Most writers keep journals, but not me.  Why not?  Well, again, not a lot of time to write, and if I am going to write, it is going to be a piece for publication.  

I am a slow writer because of my methodology:
I like to brainstorm ideas.
I work them out in my head putting nothing down on paper for sometimes months.
I let the ideas "percolate" while I do other things, walking is the best, but I percolate while doing housework, shopping, driving, cooking, etc.
When I have thought through the passage a gazillion times, I write it down.
I rewrite over the next day or so, then am done.

Since I am going to try to blog about my knitting, I am going to have to change this style for the blog.  Right now, I am going to use this blog to help me keep track of what I am learning as I knit.  This may change as I move forward in my knitting.  I hope so.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lessons in Sock Making 1 - Numbers

I am making a pair of "socks," really booties, for a stuffed bear.  I have made a few pairs of socks in the past, but this time, I am really trying to understand the sock anatomy, so I can adapt patterns to really fit, and make my own patterns.  I am using "Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks" by Melissa Morgan-Oakes as my guide.  I like knitting from the toe up, and her 2-at-a-time method is wonderful. 

What I have learned so far:
The number of stitches around the foot (after the toe increases) = the number of stitches around the leg of the sock.  Call that 100%.
The top of the foot (the instep) needle has 50% of the stitches.
The bottom of the foot (the sole) needle has 50% of the stitches.
The gusset adds 50% more to the sole, 25% to each side.
The heal cup markers are placed at between the gusset and original sole stitches. So knit 25%, place a marker, knit 50%,  and place the 2nd heal marker (in Melissa's book she has you knit 50% - 1, slip and wrap the next stitch, then place the marker).

Wow, a lot of numbers, but this will help me set up my own patterns.  Especially since they are percents.

I know these booties will be too big for the Bear, but, as he won't actually be walking, who cares?

C. A. L.