The (not so) Secret Society of Fiber Artists

The Problem:

I’m stuck in a hotel for two weeks.  I know that’s not really the most horrible fate, but I am seven months pregnant and have no car.  My waddling radius is much smaller than normal people’s walking radius, and most of my friends here either have jobs, kids, or both.  I’m doing a pretty good job keeping busy, and I have even found a new knitting group here.  This is where I want to give a shout out to my husband.

I looked for a knitting group on meetup.com before I moved out here.  Nada, unless I want to knit my chakras together while playing D&D.  I’m talking to my husband yesterday, and he has the most brilliant idea.

The solution:

“Why don’t you look on Ravelry for a group to knit with?”

Der.  In my hormone-induced insanity, I had forgotten that Ravelry wasn’t only a source for internet friends and knitting buddies, but real ones too!  All I had to do was go here and plug in my location.  A few groups came up, and I went with the most active.  Lo and behold, I get messaged by a member giving me a warm welcome and inviting them to the next meeting.  Social life restored.

Knitters are everywhere.  Almost everywhere you go, there will be someone who knits and wouldn’t mind someone to knit with.  It used to be like a secret network of knitters.  But due to the internet, and the popularity of the “Stitch n’ Bitch” concept, coffee shops everywhere have become a refuge for the lonely and thirsty knitter.

It's best to bring simpler knitting if you'll be talking, but sometimes you need help. Or to crank out a baby sweater. Lattes help.

The inspiration:  Knitters have been gathering together to knit as long as people have been knitting.  There is nothing quite like having other people to discuss technique with, help you troubleshoot, and shoot the breeze with while you are knitting (or crocheting!).  In recent times, however, knitting became “not cool” or “only for old ladies and pregnant women”.

Sometime around 2000, knitter and designer Debbie Stoller started NYC’s first “Stitch n’ Bitch” group, although apparently the term has been used since WWII.  The idea caught on like wildfire, leading to a series of books documenting the events of these groups.

Now knitting is not only hip and trendy, but it is supported by social networking sites such as ravelry.com.  There’s even an entire day devoted to knitting in public.  Knitting groups are great for learning how to knit or just having fun knitting with others.  Even if you can’t get out, there are many knit- or crochet-alongs on the web (here are just a few!), where people all over the world knit together and share their experiences.  No secret knock necessary, although you will occasionally share a knowing look when a fellow fiber artists spots the tools of the trade.

Find a group near you:

Ravelry

Stitch n’ Bitch

meetup.com

It’s up!

My first design, the pattern for this sexy electronics cozy is up for sale now.  Visit the patterns page on this blog, or go directly to Ravelry.  Enjoy!

Tube socks: not just for feet anymore.

I recently bought a Kindle. In my sheer excitement, I bought my Kindle without any sort of screen protector or case, because I had just enough money for the wi-fi only version and nothing else. Trying desperately to protect it from scratches or flecks, I scoured the Internet for a suitable cozy pattern. I found a great one in worsted weight, but couldn’t find the needles for it. So I had to do the unthinkable…math.

I hate calculating a cast on number by gauge, but it’s actually not that hard. I measured the circumference, multiplied the number of stitches per inch by that measurement and got a number. It just so happened that this number was the same number I cast on for socks! Incredulous, I stretched one of my socks over it and perfect fit!

Hard part over, I looked up a cute argyle pattern and went to town. I soon realized that my project notes were looking more and more like a pattern, so I made them into one! Suddenly, I went from fudging a recipe to designing a pattern. I write down what I did, then instructions for starting at the bottom instead of the top. A snazzy photo shoot and an afternoon in Pages, and a pattern was born.

I made mine in two days, and had some people test knit it.  If you buy and make the pattern, let me know how you like it!  You can leave a comment, or drop me a line on Ravelry- I’m KnavyKnitter on there.

Happy knitting,

Purl Girl

So Happy Together

Full disclosure:  I have sold my soul to Apple.  I have an iPhone, a MacBook Pro, and now, an iPad.  I’m not here to debate.  So, if you have a comparable tablet that you want to replace “iPad” with, go ahead.  I won’t be offended.  Honest.

The iPad is useful for many things.  You can write documents, manage your business, create new art, blog (hypothetically, I’m still waiting for a WordPress app that doesn’t make me cringe), and waste hours of your time with amazing games.  But at the end of the day, I don’t have rockets to launch or stocks to trade.  I have patterns to knit, and lots of them.

Paper knitting patterns are slowly becoming a thing of the past.  If not bought in a book, most patterns are simply printed off the internet, only to be crumpled, lost, stained, folded, spindled, and mutilated.  I have ADHD.  I’m pretty sure there are about five copies of the Monkey pattern around my house.  So here are some things I have done to make my life easier, reduce my paper use, and impress my friends.

1.  Add all your knitting patterns to your iPad.

Say what?  Yeah.  All your knitting patterns at your fingertips, to flick through, and zoom in at high resolution to better look at a tricky chart or tiny picture.  There are plenty of apps to store PDF’s, but….why?  Your iPad comes with iBooks, which is all you need.  Simply go to iTunes, click “Add Book to Library”, and add away.  All your patterns will be stored in the PDF section of iBooks.  I have a folder on my Desktop called “Knitting Patterns”, which I download all my Ravelry patterns to directly.  Easy as that.

2. Download some awesome apps.

While there aren’t many knitting apps, there is one that taps the true potential of the iPad for knitting.  It’s called Blendy Knits Socks, and it is and interactive sock pattern and tutorial book.  I can only hope that other knitting designers will catch on to this awesomeness.

There are also a few apps that are designed for the iPhone, but are still very useful:

3.  The Revolution:  Knitting Books in PDF form.

I was looking on Ravelry for my go-to sock pattern, Monkey.  Looking at the project page, I saw that it was available for download, and now in a book!  Being a total Cookie A. nut, I squeed with delight and now have Knit. Sock. Love. on my iPad. Never again will I lose my beloved Monkey pattern.

Things I would really like to see:

  • A Ravelry iPad app.  Yes, you can access Ravelry on Safari.  But can you upload pictures? Browse forums with ease?  Have a very immersive and interactive pattern searching experience? No.  I join a very large amount of people who are literally begging for a Ravelry iPhone/iPad app and would be willing to pay for it.
  • An app or update to iBooks which would allow me to “draw” on PDF’s. Maybe there is one, and if there is, please leave a comment and let me know.  In my opinion, this is one downside to having all your patterns on the iPad- no ticking off rows, making notes, and having to switch to a row-counting app or use an analog method, which defeats the whole purpose. UPDATE: Thanks to an awesome reader, I have found Goodreader, which allows you to annotate and draw on PDF’s, excellent for ticking off rows, etc.  It’s $1.99, but totally worth it.


    Besides those two things, I am so glad that I have my iPad to help me with my knitting.  Now excuse me, I have some socks to work on.

    Important Note: We here at Knitzengiggles, while endorsing some awesome businesses, do not guarantee that you will be satisfied with their products and can not be held responsible for any customer dissatisfaction.  Also,  the internet is a huge place.  In no way are we implying that a featured artist or shop is the only resource for a specific item.

    Who are going to call? Stashbusters!

    My go-to gift yarn is Cascade 220, and I’ve made quite a few gifts.  Consequently, I have a lot of little mini scrap-balls lingering at the bottom of the stash.  I’ve also gotten into the new drug genre of sock-knitting.  Each pair of socks I make leaves little mini-balls that I had nothing to make with.

    What’s a knitter to do?  Here are some patterns I plan on using to get rid of those little balls of yarn.  (All links in this article require a Ravelry account; get one here)

    Scrappy Lengthwise Scarf

    Weight: Any!

    I’m currently saving all those tiny little balls of sock yarn I have leftover to make this beauty.  Don’t knit socks?  Have no fear;  with some quick calculations thanks to the pattern, you can adjust the cast on number to fit any weight yarn!


    Image ©Emily H.

    iPhoodie

    Weight: DK to Worsted
    Needles: US3

    I had some leftover Noro lying around, and saw this adorable pattern.  It’s perfect for scrap  yarn because it’s so customizable- you can use a different color for the sleeves and hood, or you can make the whole thing striped!

    Except for the hood, the entire thing is seamless!

    Link to my project page: Noro iPhoodie

    Elefante

    Weight: Any

    This cute elephant is a wonderful way to use up scraps (in fact, doing this is strongly suggested by the designer), but it can be made in a solid color as well.  I’m about to make two right now for strategic swapping purposes.  These make perfect gifts for baby showers, birthdays, or for the toy enthusiast!

    Other suggestions:

    Crocheters have a one-up on knitters, in that most likely the first thing they made is the perfect stashbuster:  granny squares.  Knitters also have a lot of options to make scrap blankets.  Some ideas: barn raising quilt, zig-zags, log cabin.

    For sock knitters: Stripes, stripes, stripes!

    Have fun, and happy stashbusting!

    -Purl Girl

    Over The Rainbow

    Lately I’ve become obsessed with color. A few months ago, I made a Noro striped scarf, which turned out fabulous, and after having discovered Mini Mochi at my LYS, I started making Eunny’s famous Endpaper Mitts in the Jungle colorway paired in black. The colors of both these products are amazing, and I bow down to the dyers’ genius. But.


    Noro Kureyon is quite possibly the worst yarn I have ever knit with. It is poorly spun, coarse, and loaded with vegetable matter. There’s no way I would knit a shirt out of that stuff. As another knitter who has worked with it put it, it’s like “knitting with steel wool.”


    When I saw the Mini Mochi, it looked more promising. It ha a nice, even thickness and was very warm and fuzzy. The problems began when I had to frog my project. The yarn almost disintegrated into an unworkable fluff. I decided to ball it and start from the other end only to discover it was knotted togeter in about three different places. I hate that; when I accidentally knot the yarn myself it’s frustrating, I don’t really need someone else to do this for me.


    Despite all my complaints, I just purchased two balls of Noro Kureyon Sock to make, well, socks.  Why?  Because I will gladly pick out vegetable matter and work in a couple knots to make such beautiful FO’s.  Maybe some other knitter are not really to work with such low quality, but I am.  I mean come on, look at these.


    Oh, the Endless Possibilities

    I’ve taken to browsing the forums on Ravelry almost more than I check my Facebook.  There’s been a few posts lately about glow in the dark yarn.  That’s right glow. in. the. dark. yarn.  Yarn that glows in the dark.  Try to picture that in your head.  Having trouble?  Let me help:


    Image © Sheep Shape Spinning

    Image © Sheep Shape Spinning

    Does anyone else find this as awesome as I do?  Apparently yes.  There are many commercial options, including Jelly Yarn (which to me seems like that lanyard stuff you make keychains out of in summer camp but round).  Can anyone say glow-in-the-dark Cthulhu heads?  Oh yes.


    Just in time for Halloween!

    Just in time for Halloween!

    I for one, am always in favor of handspun alternatives.  Enter Elizabeth of Sheep Shape Spinning, who not only sells scrumptious roving, regular handspun yarn, and adorable toys, but handspun glow in the dark yarn!  Here’s an example:


    Gorgeous by day...

    Gorgeous by day...

    Absolutely radiant by night!

    ...absolutely radiant by night!

    How is this possible?  Elizabeth imports a commercial glow nylon base and spins it with a handspun second ply.  Aside from the obvious gorgeousness, some benefits of a handspun glow in the dark yarn is that it is indistinguishable from normal yarn in the day (both in look and feel), and in Elizabeth’s case, customizable!  While jelly yarn has an odd, not-so-cuddly texture, a handspun glow yarn is quite the opposite!


    Image © Sheep Shape Spinning

    Image © Sheep Shape Spinning


    Thank you Elizabeth, for your advice!

    -Purl Girl

    Important Note: We here at Knitzengiggles, while endorsing some awesome businesses, do not guarantee that you will be satisfied with their products and can not be held responsible should any customer dissatisfaction.  Also,  the internet is a huge place.  In no way are we implying that a featured artist or shop is the only resource for a specific item.

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