Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ringing in the Knitting New Year


Recently I have received some wonderful yarn as gifts. Both my mother and sister have a great eye for luxury yarns and just love to buy them whenever possible. This always benefits me, especially around the holidays. With a birthday at the end of November, I consider it to be a part of the “holiday season” as well. This year I made out particularly well. For my birthday, my sister sent me a fabulous skein of MissBabs hand-dyed “Yummy” which is their sock/baby weight yarn in “Dark Oak”
. This is an extremely rich very dark purple color. It’s almost black, but when looked at it under natural light, you can see the deep purple variation. Oh oh oh, what shall I make out of this??? Well, nothing for awhile. It was the holiday season and I had about a million other projects going on at one time. So, fast forward to Christmas, and I unwrapped an absolutely stunning skein of green sock yarn from Sunshine Yarns, sent to me by my mother. Just saying that this yarn is green is a horrible injustice to this yarn. The color is called “Jade” and it is such a happy summer green. Now, I wonder what this yarn will become?
At the end of the year a lot of people come up with New Year’s resolutions. I, instead, came up with a few Knitting New Year Resolutions. Three of my resolutions are: 1) Knit more from my stash, focusing on yarn that people have given me, 2) Learn at least one new technique, and 3) Document my knitting better. So, I wanted to start the new year off with a knitting bang. I need to find a project that fits as many of my resolutions as possible. I already have some wonderful new yarn in my stash, now I’d like to find a project I can make with that yarn, that I can learn a new technique with. In order to speed my knitting skills up, I decided, I would like to learn to knit Continental style. I’m an English style knitter or a “thrower”, meaning when I knit, I ‘throw’ the yarn around the needle - wrapped with the index finger of my right hand around the right needle after the stitch has been partially slipped from left to right. I’d like to learn how to be a “picker” which is the continental method where the yarn is ‘picked’ onto the right-hand needle from where it is held out in front of the left-needle. Over the many years I’ve been knitting, I’v been told that ‘picking’ is faster and less strenuous on your hands than ‘throwing’. This is because the hands/fingers are making much smaller movements. So, now I need to find a pattern that can use 2 different colors of sock yarn AND has lots of plain knitting, perfect for practicing a new knitting style.
The idea of knitting a shawl seemed perfect, because when I’m done with it, I’ll have something beautiful to wrap around me that came from BOTH my mother and my sister. With the help of my mother, I decided on the pattern. Well, considering the pattern I ended up knitting was my mothers idea and she paid for the pattern, I don’t know that I actually decided on it. She did. But that’s okay with me. Anyways, lets get on with the show.
Here is my “Eagle Twist”, pattern written by Dennis Marquez. You can find it at my favorite online knitting community Ravelry.com. I did make some altercations to the pattern. Firstly, the pattern calls for a sport weight yarn but I was making it with sock weight. Because my yarn is finer, I thought I should also go with a smaller needle so instead of using US sz6, I opted to us US sz5 needles. Also, because I was afraid the end result was going to be a tiny scarf and not a shawl, I did a total of 7 sections of my contrasting color (the green) where the original pattern only called for 6. In the end......... IT’S HUGE!!
It took up the whole bed! Haha, of course it is. I should have known that with my very loose gauge knitting (and continental knitting is usually even looser than English) just because I was using smaller needles and smaller yarn, I would be just fine. Anyways, it’s big, but not too big and I love it.
It's like a BIG hug from two people I don't get enough hugs from. Damn it for living so far away from them.

As far as learning a new technique went, well that didn’t go as smoothly as I’d have liked. I watched a few tutorials on continental knitting over at Youtube.com and gave it a go. It was uncomfortable at first, but got a little easier as I went along. The first few times I tried to purl in continental the stitches came out twisted so I decided I would just focus on the knitting and to keep the purling in english style. After the first few days my right hand was hurting some, due to all the new movements that my hand wasn’t used to. But that didn’t stop me, it just meant that I could work on it a little bit each day and be working on other projects at the same time. I’m ok with that. All and all, I learned how to knit, but not purl in continental and it is still sort of uncomfortable, but I think I’ll use this technique when I’m working other patterns that call for a lot of plain knitting. And someday I’ll learn to purl, as well.

I think that if I do this pattern again, there are a few things I would change. I would slip the first stitch in every row, this would make a much smoother edge. Also, I do not like the YO (yarn over) increases at the beginning and end of each row. I would do a different increase, either a KFB (knit front and back) or M1L/M1R (Make one Left/Make one Right). I think this would also look a bit smoother and not leave holes in the knitting. I considered changing the increases at the center cable but I believe that changing the YO’s would make the cable blend into the surrounding knitting. The holes that the YO’s create make the cable stand out. All in all I am very happy with the pattern.
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