Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Imitation Game: A Knitter's Review

The Imitation Game hardly needs this humble film fan to heap praise on it's artistry, acting, or storytelling. Although, I assure you I could. The only complaint I have is that there is a continuity error early in the film that only a knitter would catch. There is a scene in which Alan Turing's coworkers invite him to lunch. He is wearing a slate blue cable knit sweater vest. Later in the scene he is wearing a slate blue ribbed sweater. I leaned over to my friend and whispered, "Those bastards didn't think we'd notice." If I'm being honest... I doubt she did. Because she is still new to knitting and capable of acting like a normal person.
Same Scene!!!!!!
Since this is a knitting blog I doubt I have to explain the depths of my knitting obsession. You know. You've been there. You know what it is like to watch a movie and find yourself being taken out of the moments on screen because you can't help but think, "I want to knit that." And The Imitation Game is a feast for the hand knitter.

The film takes place in England, a country not known for its warm climate. And with the fuel rationing necessary because of the war people are wearing sweaters in nearly every scene. Beautiful intarsia, fair isle, the aforementioned sweater vests, etc. JUMPERS, as our friends from the other side of the pond would say. Jumpers as far as the eye can see.

A Google search for pictures is very disappointing, but I assure you it is worth the price of the ticket to not only see an amazing movie, but to feed your yarn lust with early 20th century knitting on display.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gloves, Oh such Wonderful Quick Knit Gloves

I have a few go tos in this life. Always order the burrito. See the Sandra Bullock movie. If it isn't comfortable don’t buy it. You won’t wear it. But in terms of knitting patterns it is pretty rare that I have one that I make over and over. I like new challenges, and new adventures. But there is always and an exception. And this exception is this glove/mitten pattern from Weekend Knitting. I have made this pattern a half dozen times. When I make a hat I love, I want gloves or mittens to match. And I can make a pair like the title promises in about a weekend.

The pattern isn't perfect. It has a garter stitch wrist that I always change to k1, p1 ribbing. I have trouble closing the thumb and end up having to either cast-on and pick up additional stitches that must be decreased later. Or I have to go back and sew all the gaps closed. But what is that old chestnut? “Fast, Cheap, or Good. You can’t have all three.” So my gloves are usually fast and cheap. Or very good but finishing them takes painstaking effort. But I’m not complaining. A simple no frills glove pattern is worth its weight in gold to me. I always lost my gloves and hats when I was a little girl, therefore I was always mismatched. So as an adult I set a premium on having sets. And because I make them versus buying them, if a glove is left on a taxi cab floor or a hat falls off somewhere along the way during a mad day of shopping, I can simply go home and reproduce it.

Weekend Knitting was the second knitting book I bought. And I have made several items from it. The photos are beautiful and the patterns well written. Moreover, I love the little extras like the list of movies in which knitting is seen. When I need something simple and fast I first turn to Weekend Knitting. If you can only buy one book I think it should be The Yarn Girl’s Guide to Simple Knits. But if you can buy two you  must have this one also. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Crochet Earrings

Although I am primarily a knitter I have been on a bit of a crochet bender lately. When stressed, I craft. And I am rarely more stressed than when I am commuting to work. And it is easier to crochet on the train than to knit. I need less elbow room.

As my regular readers know I am a bit of Pinterest addict. And I pinned this idea a few months back. I have tons of cheap hoop earrings that have lost their gold-plating to upcycle. I used ordinary embroidery floss and single crocheted all the way around until I couldn't see the "gold" anymore. The pattern is pretty simple:
R1: Ch 3, skip 5, dc. Repeat around
R2-3: Ch3, Skip ch3 space, DC in next ch3. Repeat around.
R4: Ch2, dc in next 3 ch3
R5: Ch2 dc, ch2,slip last st into beginning ch.

I tend to avoid things that scream of hippie handicraft or are hipster. Since these earrings are handmade AND ombre they break both rules. SHOCKING. I KNOW. But I think they're cute. I plan to make another pair and get a bit more creative with the pattern.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Admiral

I am a recent full convert to the world of social media. I am a Luddite by nature so doing most of my social interaction on the internet is anathema. You should have to put up with the vicissitudes of my personality to have access to my collection of baseball trivia, feminist diatribes, and apple sauce recipes. But I find myself more and more involved.

It started with Facebook, which eventually led to Twitter, which spiralled into Instagram, and finally Pinterest. I can spend hours on Pinterest. I DO SPEND HOURS ON PINTEREST. My little sister and I communicate almost exclusively through sending each other pins. And it was on pinterest that I saw "Its a Frappe." A crochet Admiral Akbar coffee cozy. Combine yarn crafts with geekery? Yes Please! Thank you Sir! May I have another!

The lady offers more of a recipe than a pattern so I crochet my usual coffee sleeve and then embroidered the face on and single crocheted two pockets for the eyes. My best-friend Audrey was more persistent in making her pockets fit tightly so the eyes didn't fall out. I on the other hand just used super glue. I can decide whether I'm the smart monkey who uses the stick to get the food out of the hole, or she's the Horton Hatches the Egg. There is no wrong way
to make an Admiral Akbar coffee cozy.



Both Awesome.

"Ode to My Socks" By Pablo Neruda

"Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
Violent socks,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.

Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
keep fireflies,
as learned men collect
sacred texts,
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.

The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter." - Pablo Neruda

"If someone knits you a pair of socks be thankful. Make a fuss."-D.C. Martin

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Froggy say "Rip it! Rip it!"

Every knitter learns the hard lesson that you can't be afraid to unravel your work. We have to, from time to time, frog our work. If you're not down with the knittin' slang we call it frogging because of the sensation and the way if you do it fast enough there is a steady sound similar to "ribbit, ribbit, ribbit" you know like a frog. 

It is often best to undo something rather than have a mistake drive you insane. I knit an exquisite aran fisherman's sweater for a friend. The pattern was complicated and intricate, and sometimes downright maddening. So when I would realize I made a mistake several rows back e.g. a cable twisting the wrong direction or a stitch dropped and picked back up, I never went back. And consequently, I know there are 33 mistakes in the sweater. 33!!!!! All tiny. No one has ever been able to spot a single one. Not even my fellow knitters. And yet I regret not making it perfect. 

I read a book once that said that Persians make a mistake on purpose in their rugs in order to acknowledge that perfection exists only in God. I am also an acolyte of the late Bob Ross, who said "We don't make mistakes. We make happy accidents." These are the things we tell ourselves to get by. To reconcile the perfect knitted piece we dreamt of making with the end result. 

I have knitted something perfect just once in my life. It was a scarf. The gauge was perfect even though it didn't need to be. My tension was perfect. Every stitch uniform. It was a beautiful scarf. I would post a picture of it here but I don't have it anymore. A week after I knitted it I was waiting for a train on Main street and a very cold homeless man sat next to me and said he liked it. My interior monologue grumbled. The selfish six year old in me that hides tubes of Pringles from roommates and doesn't tell people about great restaurants didn't want to give it to him. But the angel on my left shoulder talked the devil on my right into giving in and I handed it over to him. Despite his charming gratitude and the way he instantly looked less cold and sad...I still resent that I gave it to him. I wanted to hold onto my "perfection", my brief moment of grace. Having confessed my selfishness, I can now say that I'm glad that my knitting did what it was supposed to do. It made me happy, and it kept someone else warm. 

The only time I find the decision to frog a project more challenging than when I've made a mistake, is when I realize a project isn't working. I stop being excited to work on it. I no longer imagine what I or its intended recipient will be doing when we wear it. When this happens I ask myself three questions:

1) If you put this away and take it back out in three months will you like it again?
2) Can you think of someone who would like this?
3) If you sold this could you get as much money for it as you spent on yarn?

If the answer to all three is "NO" then I unravel it. I recently unraveled a scarf. And now I must find a new project for the yarn.

I am always a grump when I have to frog something. But I can't recall ever wishing I hadn't.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Instant Gratification

Sometimes you just need to knit something. It isn't about the end result. It is just the process. Yarn and needles. Breathe and just knit stitch after stitch. Like meditation. On a snowy Saturday I found myself desperate for a little quick knitting. All the projects I currently had on the needles either required more concentration than I could muster, or I was mad at them. So I wandered through my queue with super bulky yarn and a garter or stockinette stitch. I found the Bow Head and  Wham Bam.

Wham Bam is a cowl that is essentially 18 inches of garter stitch with the cast-off and bind-off edges sewn unevenly. Easy peasy. Loved it. As the rows rapidly appeared my stressful week was released from my body and transferred into the yarn. I wish the yarn photographed as red as it is. It is a very rich color. 

Bow head was a major disappointment. It looks crazy cute in the picture below. I suspect the person who made this one did a better job of blocking her's. My impatience is legendary when it comes to blocking. I only do it when I absolutely have to. Consequently, my bow pokes up and looks fat and weird on my head.

I will probably never wear either item I knitted, and will end up donating them to charity. But like I said, it isn't about the end result. I needed the instant gratification of starting and finishing something on the same day.