Monday, January 25, 2010


It's a rainy and cloudy day in New York City today. I was foolish enough to leave my house with a hood-less jacket and no umbrella, with a large box handicapping me from my usual walking speed. But a fairly decent cup of coffee once I got into the office brighten the mood--that and knowing that my knitting, kindle and iPod all managed to avoid getting wet.

So though I'm nearly at the end of the demo sock, I'm a bit fearful of picking up the needles again to finish it off. I avoided knitting for most of last week, but when I tried to pick up the DPNs yesterday, I still felt the stiffness in my wrist when I got my hand into position to do Continental. It wasn't as strong when I switched over to English, but was definitely still there. Perhaps after a couple more days of rest, I can pick it back up again?

I've been doing some research on the boards at Ravelry, and it seems that such occurrences (elbow, wrist, finger pain, etc.) among fiber artists in general is not rare. Though it seems to manifest itself differently in everyone, and each person has different methods. Whether it's knitting with different size yarn and needles, or taking a break every 20 minutes, there seem to be as many approaches as there are cures for hiccups. I've been thinking of getting myself a wrist brace. Though I still feel that a large part of it has to do with the sheer amount of knitting I did from the 14-18th.

Back to knitting. As requested by one of my previous readers, I've attached below a photo of the demo sock, with its still unfinished foot and toe:

As you can see, I'm using the spare yarn from the Kindle Kover. I think I've gotten a hang of the idea of making a sock. Now there's just the finishing of it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This entry will have to be a combination entry of sorts:

Occurring mostly from the evening to Friday, January 15th 2010 to Sunday, January 17th 2010.
1) I have kicked Continental knitting butt! It's humorous to think about the fact that last week I was feeling so defeated by the entire experience. However, I spent the long weekend knitting away and somewhere between all the stitches and episodes of Xena on Netflix, I found my flow and it finally clicked.

If you asked me how it happened, I'm not sure if I could tell you. As I kept on knitting, I seemed to realize after the fact that I wasn't concerned about messing up every stitch. I knew that though the yarn did not feel the way it normally did, it would not magically fall off my finger, and if I did lose it, all I had to do was put it back. There was no reason to hold my pinky and ring finger so close that they were white. As I eased up, my knitting pick up both in ease and speed, and I was rather enjoying the entire experience.

As I continued my now very long practice swatch, I felt confidant enough to try my hand at doing a purl Continental-style, and after reminding myself how it was suppose to look, it was easy! I did a practice square of stockinette and rib, and moved right along.

What amazed me the most about it all, was that my hands were not tired after everything. I knitted for just about all of Sunday, and my hands weren't the least bit tired by the end of it. Something I found that would occur after doing English for a long period of time.

Occurring mostly from Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 to Thursday, January 21st, 2010.
2) Make sure you consider the fine print. That is, try to see not just what is going on right now, but what may happen because of it three steps in the future. After my success with Continental knitting, I have been working on what has been kindly titled a "demo sock". Wanting to make socks in the near future, I figured it would be nice if I understood what basic construction of a sock was. So since about Monday night (when I missed a knitting group meeting) I began work on the demo sock. So that is now nearly five days that I have been doing knitting of some form.

Well, the piper has come. I started to feel it last night, and confirmed it this morning, that my hands are tired. There was a stiffness and an ache in the back of my hands that made me think that perhaps knitting should be placed on for at least a day or two. And such a shame! I'm nearly up to the toe of the sock...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Continental Divide

While I was in bed trying to beat a cold before it fully developed this Wednesday, I decided to learn Continental knitting. Just about since I started knitting, I've been told about how superior Continental knitting is to English. You will never reach your full potential until you learn to not have to pick up your yarn. Continental knitting is much faster; it's the EZ way. English knitters have no idea what they're doing or missing out on! (The last one was provided by a particularly dramatic friend over gchat).

Knowing what my goals are for the future, the first and a half statements really stuck out to me. So, I grabbed a set of clover needles and Wool-Ease Thick & Quick and got to reading and surfing. I found what seemed to be a very detailed video about Continental knitting and definitely had to agree that it looked pretty damn quick. But when I watched my own mirrored motions, I felt stiff and clunky. As I struggled to get the needle in, grab the yarn and come out triumphant with a new loop, I was reminded of just how much progress I had made over the past year. It's like learning to knit all over again, friend consoled. Well then, perhaps I do not want to learn it all over again. It took a lot of stitches to get at the somewhat level of comfort that I have now, and like many things in life, the details of how exactly you arrived are just a bit foggy at this point. And I'm not sure if I want to clear the air just yet.

But then again, nearly all my ventures into the fiber world have been with wooden needles held with conviction, if not exactly with complete understand. I didn't know how to knit originally, but managed to make a damn good garter stitch scarf. Knitting with four needles instead of two? Why not. Five? Just an extra one to stick into my beard. Cables? Those involve twisting things about. I always thought they were nice. Gimme. That's right, gimme those Continental stitches.

So, I kept researching. I read Domiknitrix's section on it, which while giving me a new option for where to wrap the yarn, seemed to miss what to do with the yarn that hung over forefinger and dangled. So I turned to Stitch 'n Bitch and found an option for how to hold the yarn. My stitches seemed to be becoming more even, but this was certainly not completely from my own doing. It must have been a combination of luck and getting so fed up with a row that I would finish it off with English and start again. Either way, come this morning, my swatches were not so tight that a pin would have trouble pushing through. I practiced a bit more on the train to work, and thought little of it.

When a trip to Lion Brand Yarn Studio just happened to come up in the middle of the day (we went for a co-worker, I swear!), I mentioned in passing that I was trying to teach myself Continental. Immediately, a worker at the store commiserated with me and asked me how my purls were coming along. "Oh, I haven't gotten even close to that yet. The knits are still giving me trouble". And thus began a 5-minute tutorial on what I should consider when doing Continental knitting. What a godsend! We agreed that: there is no clear 1-way-to-do-Continental vs 1-way-to-do-English. That I don't need to keep my pointer finger aimed at the far heavens. And we ended with one piece of advice: Chunky yarn is the worst thing to try and learn with. When I told her this, and she realized what I had been using, the pity with which she looked on to me could not be contained.

I came home after work, pulled out some Vanna's Choice I had left over from my Kindle Kover and got to work. After feeling a little comfortable, I figured I should time myself. In order to knit 26 stitches on size 7 needles (4.5mm) it took...
Continental      English
    1:53.7          1:25.3
Maybe I don't need to have any more tools in my arsenal. Maybe I'm just too Owen Burnett to ever be Preston Vogel.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Venturing Out

With little to do after work, I decided to attend a knitting group I found on Ravelry. While searching about the groups, I found one that meets on Monday night pretty close to my job, so yesterday evening I headed up to Houston from my job in Wall Street for an evening that I hoped would be filled with knitting, meeting new people and a pleasant ride home after. I was delivered on all three.

For the first time I got to meet a group of icons and forum posts on Ravelry in the flesh, and I was glad to have the opportunity. Everyone was very amiable, and my initial concerns of walking up to people I've never seen before, my hands full with a sandwich and water, were quickly allayed. I spent the evening working on my swatches and enjoying from delicious garlic bread, while we all talked about different knitting techniques, where we were from, our likes and dislikes of trains, transfers and the boroughs we have, and currently do, call home.

A point that was particularly interesting was listening to one of the knitters who is originally from France talk about the idea of circular needles in France. She said that the needles are so closely associated with Germany that they are often referred to as German needles. And are not easy to find in France because of this. For knitting in-the-round, your only option are DPNs. Makes me pretty glad that I became such a fan of them when I was working on my Kindle Kover. Though when I'll be in France, I do not know. But it is nice to know I'll be French knitting prepared.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mailer Daemon Unknown

Signed, sealed and delivered. Finally. 

On Thursday I stood in line at the post office to send my package of gifts including the Mixed Message Scarf for Eileen. After half an hour and a triple the size charge of what would have been 2-day delivery, I was told that the package would arrive the next day by 3 PM. GP would be leaving for Vermont on Sunday, so I left relaxed and feeling that everything should go fine.

Skip scene to Friday, 3:34 PM. I call GP to see if anything has arrived. He walks out to the mailbox, though he would have had to sign for the package. Mailbox empty. Though I'm annoyed that it is after 3PM and nothing has arrived, I feel secure in the fact that "Hey. It HAS to get there today, it's Express Shipping to Albany, NY. How long could it actually take?" 

Fast forward to Friday, 4:32PM. GP calls me starting off with "Those bastards!" I know it is either another rant on Walmart, or something has gone wrong with my package. Though GP was home all day, they decided that he wasn't home as there was no cars in the drive way. Never mind the fact that no one came up to the door, there were no footprints in the snow. No signs of any attempt to verify if anyone was home whatsoever. Just a "Sorry we missed you slip" in the mailbox across the street. Shoot!

But, thankfully today I get a call telling me that my fears may be calmed, as the gifts were received and much appreciated. And now that Eileen has gotten her gift, I can showcase the finished piece here: 

As my first adventure into the land of cables, I am rather enamored with them. Though it would not be approved of by Stafford, so I'll try to not go overboard with them.

A sidenote: I was on the subway two weeks ago, knitting the last leg of the scarf, when I noticed the a woman watching and half smiling from the corner of my eye. She continued to watch me until we hit 42nd Street--Times Square. I had put my knitting away just before we reached the stop. She walked toward the door to exit, but right before, she came over to me to commend me for my cable work. She said that it was such a delight to watch me make them. Though her mothered had tried to teach her how to make them, she never got the grasp of them. I thanked her and was left with a smile on my face as she got off the train.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Late Night

I should be asleep right now (I have work and a training to run tomorrow) but first I wanted to write up a quick post before I got to sleep.

I finished knitting, weaving in ends and steam blocking the scarf I've been working on. Feels great to have another finished piece, and it is definitely driving me to work on it even more. I'd go into why I enjoy knitting so much, but I just yawned again. (I know I'm tired cause  just wrote "yarned" instead of "yawned"). I'll be sure to muse and post photos tomorrow. I really need to get to sleep. All I need to do now is find a box to package it in and off it goes!

Good night, all.