Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Knitter's Reputation

   Many knitters seem to have an agenda to prove that they are as bad as everyone else.  I understand that we are ~ All we like sheep have gone astray ~ and most of those who have been transformed by the power of Christ probably also find other things to do than knit.  Many knitters, however, seem to want to make it clear to the world that they have gone astray.

   I like to knit.  I have done it since I was a teenager, and knitting is therapy to me. I fully identify with the blogger who calls her blog "Knitting to Stay Sane."  But I don't feel like I fit in with the knitting crowd ~ for the simple reason that I don't mind if being known as a knitter gives me a reputation for being an old-fashioned homebody.  In college, some of the kids laughed and called me "Grandma." What of it? Is it so bad to be a grandma? I certainly don't think so now.

   Yet some knitters are bent on changing the old-fashioned reputation that tends to go with knitting.  They name their books and their shops with suggestive or otherwise objectionable titles.  They boast about their bad language.  They ask other knitters to post their favorite swear word on internet sites.  I don't know the reason for this, but the tendency is to prove that we are not as quiet and harmless as we ought to be.

   I take my stand as a knitter quite willing to be thought old-fashioned ~ and much preferring it to the prevailing spirit of the world, which glories in its shame.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Felted Soap

I ran across a fascinating shop on Etsy recently.  Until I saw this, I had never heard of felted soap. It is homemade soap encased in a felt "washcloth". These are amazing and beautiful:

Felted SoapFelted SoapFelted Soap DragonflyFelted Soap
Sweet Nola's soap is reasonably priced for a gift or a special occasion.  (You can get me some, if you want.)

I am intrigued with this stuff, and I wanted to find out how it was made.  A quick internet search, brought up this tutorial for felting soap with children:
Felted Soap Tutorial
It looks so fun, that I had to post it for those of you with kids around. I may even try it myself.
To get from this to the really pretty ones at Sweet Nola is too much for me.  I'd rather knit. :-)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Felting Is Fun

Flowers are not my favorite thing to make.  They require too much thinking and counting to make truly relaxing knitting.
But it is pure fun to put this in the washer:

 And pull this out:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Seaming with Kitchener Stitch

The Kitchener stitch sounds scary, and the directions for it look confusing, but once you make yourself read them and follow them, it is actually quite easy, and even fun. I've not only used it on socks, but also on shoulder seams. It is slow, and a little more like sewing than knitting, but the smooth end product is worth the labor.

I am presently working on an afghan.  I modified the pattern and found as I neared the end, that it was going to be as wide as it was tall.  Unacceptable!  I decided to add a border to each end. I considered picking up stitches on the cast on edge, and knitting top down in garter stitch, but I really wanted a certain  design (already in the afghan) that can only be knit in one direction.  I decided to make the boarder separately, from the bottom up, thinking I would sew it on.  But, I didn't want the bulky seam that would be created by sewing a bind off to a cast on edge, so I stopped one row short of finishing and sewed the boarder to the cast on edge using the Kitchener stitch.  I was amazingly pleased with the result, and I am going to show you how I did it.  It is slightly different than joining two sets of stitches on needles, but in some ways, easier.  Without the second needle in the way, you can better see what is going on and can see each knit stitch as it is made.

This works especially well, because I am attaching a knit side (the right side of stockinette) to a purl side (reverse stockinette.)  I tried it attaching knit to knit, and there is a noticeable seam.  The cast on edge looks like a row of twisted knit stitches.

Here's how the join looks on my afghan:

You start by running your sewing needle through the first stitch on the knitting needle coming at it from behind as if to knit.  Leave the stitch on the needle.  Then you run your needle through the first cast on stitch of your completed piece, coming at it from the bottom, as if to knit.

Now that you are set up, all the remaining stitches will be worked as follows:

Coming down from the top, put your needle through the first stitch on your needle, as if to purl.  It now has two yarns running through it.  Take it off your needle.
Now run your needle through the next stitch as if to knit.  Leave it on the needle.

Now take your needle to the cast on edge of your main piece.  Coming from the top, go down through the top of the same stitch that already has a yarn in it.  Then coming from underneath, catch the next cast on stitch as if to knit.

Pull the yarn gently, using the same tension as for knitting.  You should see a knit stitch.  It will be easier to see after you have made a few stitches.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ditching the Cable Needle

Not that I have ever actually had a cable needle in the technical sense.  A spare double point is my usual "cable needle," and in a pinch I'll grab whatever is handy ~ even a crochet hook or a pin, then place the stitches back on the left hand needle to knit them, if necessary.

Not long ago I saw a tutorial for making cables without a needle. I started to watch it, but I got impatient with the long introduction.  (I just wanted to see how it is done!)  The instructor mentioned that you have to leave the stitches off the needle for awhile.  I guess I figure if that's how it's done, I don't really need a tutorial ~ if the stitches are held in back, I can pinch them in my left fingers while I knit, and I if they are in front, I can keep my eye on them.

I am presently working on Nicky Epstein's Tree of Life pattern.  The cables in it are never more than two stitches over two.  During my first round through the pattern, I used a cable needle pretty much every time I had to move more than one stitch.  But now I'm on my second time through the pattern, and as my cable needle wasn't handy, I decided to try just knitting the stitches in the order called for without taking them off the left hand needle (like you would for a twisted stitch.)  It works great!  Unless you are a beginner or are working with a large number of stitches, why use a cable needle at all?

A left cross can be a bit tricky, because the first stitches you knit are the ones that are behind ~ which means you have to find the right strand on the back of your needle.  You don't want to twist  your stitch by knitting in the back loop, so you have to stick your needle between the stitch you want to knit and the one in front of it (coming from behind.)  Then you pull your stitch out to the back of  your work and knit it.

The only way to purl a stitch from the back of the needle is to use the back loop of the stitch.  That means that your stitch will be twisted on the knit side.  Depending on the pattern, it may be worth doing.  Pearling from behind on more than one stitch is a difficult maneuver, and it takes some practice for it to become quicker than reaching for a cable needle, but the thought of being free of that intruder (three is a crowd, you know) is very appealing to me.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

   My spiritual poems are posted on, and my personal poems are given to whomever they are written for, then filed away.  But once in a while I have a poem that's sort of in between ~ not spiritual enough for prayerclub, and not so personal that it must be filed.  The following is one of those, written for one friend, but perhaps useful to many.  As you read it, keep in mind that the "beast" is not a person, but a thing: pain.

Beauty and the Beast

Attempted smiles cannot conceal
The agony of soul I feel.
The  tears that aren’t allowed to flow
Still in my whole demanor show.
The  more I try to hide my pain,
The more it makes its presence plain.

Some poeple say I must “Let go,”
But how to do it, I don’t know.
I do not choose to keep the knife
That cut my heart and drains my life.
I’ve often thrown the thing away —
But stubborn pain remains to stay.

If I can find some victory,
I think a better way will be,
Instead of letting go, embrace —
And look the monster in the face.
For pain’s a beast, yet after all
His power over me is small.

He has the power to make me cry
And make me sometimes wish to die,
But this is mighty small indeed:
To cause a wounded heart to bleed.
He hasn’t power to make me doubt —
Or think my God has cast me out.

However deep the  sword my smite,
With all its boasted, beastly might:
However much I feel the smart
Of pain in my afflicted heart;
However chastened by His rod,
It cannot turn me from my God.

And pain I’ve barely understood
May yet be used by God for good—
And thus the beast I’d gladly miss
I now by faith embrace and kiss.
With trembling I recoil and wince —
Yet trust that he’ll become a prince.