Knitting Karma Loves Me: A Product Review

I have good news to share, and with it, a product review*. Knitting karma graced me with its presence once again! I recently won a free set of Addi Clicks, just by luck of the draw. When Skacel notified me that I’d won, I almost didn’t believe it. It started to seem real when I saw my name on the next Skacel email newsletter. It really seemed real when I got them in the mail!

If you’re not familiar with Addi needles, here’s the basic rundown. Their fixed circulars come in several styles, some of which have different labeling in different areas of the world. The standard is the Turbo, which is lightning fast due to the coated nickel finish. Turbo tips have a more or less typical taper and are slightly rounded. Then, there’s Addi Turbo Lace circs. These are made of brass, which is a little grippier than the nickel, and have a more tapered tip with a sharper point. Addi Rockets, or Sock Rockets, combine the best of the first two styles (in my humble opinion) as they have the long, sharp tip paired with the slick coated nickel. These have been my go-to circulars for a while now. They’re super speedy, the join is smooth, the cables are flexible and don’t kink easily. That makes them good for magic loop, lace, large projects, and just about anything and everything else. Addi also makes bamboo circs and maybe others, but I haven’t tried any of them.

Addi also makes interchangeable circular needle sets called Clicks. The different styles available mostly coincide with the fixed circ styles, with one exception. The lace tip Clicks are coated nickel, not grippy brass. So, they’re really more like the Rockets. Lace tips come in short and long lengths. Since Rockets are my favorites, and since I have big hands and despise short needles, I opted for the Long Lace Tip Clicks.

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As you can see, they come in a sleek pink case. Inside, there’s eight sets of tips in US sizes 4-11, a cable connector and an Addi heart pin.

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The US4s aren’t pictured as they’re in use!

The connector can be used to link two cables together to get a really long one. Or, you can take the tips off a WIP and hook both ends of the cable to the connector and use it like a stitch holder. That would be handy if you needed those tips for another project or another part of the same WIP.

On the back of the case, there’s a zipper pocket that holds three cables and a needle gauge.

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Again, one cable is not pictured as it’s in use.

I put them to work right away on my Miller’s Daughter shawl. Initially, they took a little getting used to. There’s a spring loaded mechanism that connects the tip to the cable and apparently sometimes they need to be broken in a little. At first, I couldn’t get one of the US4 tips to lock securely in place, and it popped off a couple of times while I was knitting. I ended up fiddling with it for a while, mostly just connecting and disconnecting it, until I was able to get the lock to fully engage. After that, it was smooth sailing!

This set has a really cool lifeline feature. Each cable has a sort of slot near each end that you can thread a lifeline through. It’s kind of like the eye of a needle except that it closes up when you’re not actively manipulating it. You just put the end of the lifeline through the slot, then knit the next row. As the knitting slides off the working needle onto the cable, the lifeline is pulled through all the stitches. After finishing that row, slide all the stitches onto the cable to ensure they’re all captured, then remove the end of the lifeline from the slot. Easy peasy! It came in handy to have this feature as the Miller’s Daughter has several lace panels of increasing widths, so lifelines are something of a necessity.

My one quibble with the Clicks is that the join isn’t as smooth as it is on Addi’s fixed circs. I tend to be a snug knitter, so it can be a little trying when sliding stitches off the cable and onto the needle to be worked. It gets easier after a bit, but I imagine a very tight knitter would have trouble.

The tips are great. They’re super long and pointy, which I like. I find that makes it easier to work stitches more quickly and accurately. I love them!

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Overall, I’m very happy with my new toys! They’re great for shawl knitting and larger projects, especially. Since I chose the long tips, they won’t work well with smaller diameter projects like hats or baby dresses, but that doesn’t bother me. I’m not getting rid of any of my fixed Addis anytime soon, so I should always have the right tools for any job. I think that, eventually, I will purchase more tips in smaller sizes so I can do magic loop socks and the like.

Many, many thanks to Skacel for their generous giveaway! I expect to get many years of use out of this set. They’re serving me well already!

Happy, speedy knitting!

*Disclaimer: Nothing to disclose! I received the Clicks free with no expectation of any review, favorable or otherwise.

What Goes Around…Well, You Know

Oh, lovely readers, I have so much to tell you! I’m still spread really, really thin and have a ton on my plate. But, I’ve been feeling that blogging pull a lot lately. You know, that impulse to open up a blank screen and pour stuff onto it? Yeah, that. So, I’m going to try to get back at it and start blogging regularly again.

That said, where to begin? I guess a general update is in order. In my last post, I mentioned I had a promising job interview. Well, I’ve now completed three rounds of interviews and gotten a verbal offer. There are still a lot of factors that could come into play and screw this up, but I’m starting to let myself believe it just might all work out. I should know more in a few days. I’m excited about this on several levels. For starters, it would (will?) take a huge weight off my shoulders to be getting a regular paycheck. For seconds, the job in question seems like it will be a good next step in my career. For thirds, I genuinely loved the work environment, the team members and the role. I think it could be a great context for me and I’m confident I can bring valuable skills and experience to the table. So, please keep sending any mojo, juju, good vibes, prayers, virtual hugs, and any and all positive energy! I will do my best to accept it, appreciate it, amplify it and reflect it back.

Next item on the agenda! The concept of paying it forward continues to be on my mind. The effects of it manifest more in the knitting and fiber world than anywhere else for me. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been amazingly lucky when it comes to knitting, right? Well, I have, and I continue to be. From finding giant batches of luxury yarn at Goodwill, to getting massive amounts of free destashed yarn and fiber, to winning yummy yarns and patterns from KALs and blog giveaways, I just keep winning. I’ve done my best to spread the love around, and it just keeps coming back to me. Last week I learned that I was the random winner picked by Skacel to receive a free set of addi click interchangeable needles! I picked the long lace tips. I got them a few days ago and, so far, they’ve been great! I will post a detailed review soon. Thanks, Skacel!

Another way the knitting world keeps giving back to me is in the form of jobs! Little jobs, perhaps, but they add up. I started doing some finishing work for my LYS (the start of which is a whole other story entirely) a few months ago. These are some of the gigs I’ve done so far:

-Blocked, seamed and finished a baby sweater

-Repaired holes in handknit sweaters (one Aran sweater from the UK, even)!

-Ripped out and reknit the neck of a sweater so it would fit better

-Sewed up some shoulder seams

And I’ve got a couple more jobs on deck. It’s been nice to get a little extra, unexpected, money but mostly? It’s been super rewarding to see people fall in love with their handknits all over again. The owner of the Aran sweater mentioned above was close to (happy) tears when he saw all the holes repaired. The owner of the baby sweater was pleased as punch when she saw it all finished, with cute buttons and everything. Also, I have learned so, so much while doing these little jobs. The repairs I’ve done are almost all invisible and my finishing skills have definitely improved. For the sweater neck reknit, I learned a new-to-me short row technique (German short rows) which proved to be awesome.

So, what about knitting, you ask? Well, I haven’t been doing a ton of it. I’m embarrassingly behind on my test knitting. It’s been hard to dredge up the emotional energy to work on much. However, I did finish a hat test knit recently and, a couple of days ago, I started a project purely for myself. I’m working on The Miller’s Daughter, a Mairlynd pattern. I am using the most awesome colors ever:

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I’m using the tosh lace edison bulb as my accent color. However, in keeping with my love of the extreme, I’m using my accent color for all the lace panels. So far, I love it!

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The photo doesn’t really do it justice but, trust me…it’s amazeballs.

Here’s the hat test knit I finished recently. I’ll do an FO spotlight post for it later after I’ve properly blocked it and whatnot. The pattern is Grant Carver:

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Happy knitting!

The Perils of Knitting

As I walked up the stairs last night to go to bed, I noticed an irritated spot near the base of my right thumb. I thought it was odd, but didn’t think about it any longer than it took to vaguely register it was there. This morning as I was getting a couple of rows in on my Drachenfels, a sudden stab of pain told me what it was. You know my lovely new Addis? The sharp pointed, nickel coated, red cabled ones? Yeah, I was stabbing myself in the hand with them, just often enough to actually cut myself. Whoops…I will have to be a little more careful!

My wound is evidence that I’ve been getting a lot of time in on my project, though. I am tossing around a few other project ideas, but I want to see this one mostly through before I start something else. I’m up to just shy of 200 stitches so the rows are taking longer and longer. The pattern calls for increasing to 240 stitches but I plan on taking it far past that.

I incorporated the third color (dark grey) yesterday. This is how I decided to do it:

IMG_3785The plan is to do another few stripes then drop the charcoal and continue with just two colors. If I had it to do over, I might have chosen to do two stripes of the grey, then two of charcoal, etc. instead of one. I know I could pull it out and redo but…probably not happening this time. Now that I think about it, I could switch to that pattern now before phasing out the charcoal. So if the charcoal is A, the spruce is B and the dark grey is C (and they are), I could go from A B C B A B C B to A B A B C B C B a couple of times, then switch to C B C B. I think that might look pretty cool. Then, once the charcoal is out, I’ll eventually add D (light blue) and phase out B in the same way. By then I should have approximately half a million stitches so I will have achieved my goal of making it larger than called for!

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This is the current state of things:

IMG_3786I’ve had a couple things I’ve had to remedy. I had to drop a stitch down 6 or 8 garter ridges to fix something weird that I did (never figured out exactly what it was) and knit it back up. Another time, I dropped a stitch but for the life of me couldn’t figure out how to fix it. So I tinked back over a row and a half to get a better look at it. I fiddled around with it for a while before determining that I had fixed it, probably right away, and all the ensuing fiddling had just served to distort and loosen up that whole area. A little judicious tugging later and it was back to normal, no dropped stitch in sight.

In terms of other upcoming projects, I’m thinking I might make a purple clapotis for the wifey’s mom. Is it just me, or does “purple clapotis” sound not quite right? In any case, I have over 900 yards of purple Plymouth Yarn DK Merino Superwash that I think would make a nice wrap. I’m still not exactly certain what she wants, but I figure I can always make her another one sometime so she has some variety. Other stuff is still on the back burner, so I won’t go into them yet. One thing I will mention is that I’m thinking of trying to do some autumn and winter/Christmas decorative stuff with some of my stash. Should be fun!

Splitty Yarn, Splitty…Needles??

I am working on the project from hell right now. Many people say that life is too short to knit things you don’t like. In theory, I agree. However, I’m doing this for the greater good! Here are my reasons for forging ahead, despite the fact that every stitch is agony on some level.

  1. The stash. I have a lot of yarn. Not as much as I’ve seen on some people’s ravelry accounts, but still a lot. A good portion of it is beautiful, high quality fiber, a pleasure to work with. A much larger portion is stuff that I acquired before I really knew about LYSes or that there was such a thing as soft wool. Some of it was given to me. Some of it was thrifted and just seemed like too good a deal to pass up. In any case, I have a really hard time getting rid of yarn because I always think that maybe someday it would be useful. So, I want to use up as much of my stash that I don’t love as I can so that I can get it out into the world and out of my basement.
  2. The project and its intended recipient. I’m making a baby sweater for a little one who’s just a few months old. His parents are first timers and non-knitters. The last thing they need is to be saddled with something they have to hand wash, dry flat, and worry about ruining. Even superwash wool has its issues, so in this case I think acrylic is the best bet.
  3. I’m almost done. It didn’t get really bad until I started knitting the sleeves (I will explain further). At that point, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice all the work I’d already done.

So, some details about the project. I’m using this garter yoke baby cardi pattern with only a couple of modifications. I put ribbing at the bottom of the body and the sleeves instead of garter stitch and some of my measurements are a little different (I got stitch gauge but not row gauge…story of my knitting life). I’m using Caron Simply Soft Tweed in black. It is pretty soft for acrylic, but when it’s knitted at a tight-ish gauge, it doesn’t feel as great. I don’t love the yarn and I don’t love the color, but it’s what I ended up with so I’m going for it.

When I started, it was okay. It went pretty quickly. The pattern is nice enough and pretty easy. I was using a set of my new Addi Sock Rockets. Let me back up a little…in a previous post, I discussed a little about knitting needles and my preferences. Fogknits left me a very useful comment:

I LOVE Addi Rockets! I’m not a fan of the brass coating on the lace. The Rockets are the perfect compromise for me 🙂

Sadly, I don’t like the Addi Click set at all. The join is not smooth at all. The ‘click’ bit works perfect…I have never once had a tip fall off and leave me in a panic but it’s really had to get beyond that join. Addis are so perfect otherwise. It’s a disappointment to me.

I highly recommend trying it out before buying, maybe a local friend or even a shop will let you try them out first. I’ve just accepted it and buy the fixed sets.

Shortly after that, I stumbled across a serious deal on ebay for some Addis. I might have bought a lot of them (like, ten). The ones I got are essentially sock rockets but they are the kind that were only available in Europe, I think. In any case, they have the long pointy lace tips, the super slick nickel coating and red cables. I love them. They are absolutely perfect.

So, I started the baby cardi on a set of my new needles. Even though the yarn is a bit splitty, and a bit squeaky when knitted tightly (I’m a rather snug knitter), having it on the Addis made it tolerable. Then came time to knit the sleeves, so I dug out my size 6 dpns. Well, the set I used are Surina brand. I got a bunch of them on sale online somewhere and hadn’t used any of them yet. Well, they did not work out well for me at all. They’re not completely uniform in width, the points are weirdly extra sharp yet have a very short taper, and worst of all…the tips are splitty. Yes, splitty. Don’t ask me how knitting needles can be splitty, but these are. The tips are just too pointy and sharp to hold up to actual use. Splitty yarn combined with splitty needles makes for some tedious knitting! So, doing the sleeves was akin to absolute torture. The good news? The sleeves are done so I can go back to my Addis for the button bands!

Here’s an in progress pic:

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And a close up of the knitting:

IMG_3507And the current state of afffairs:

IMG_3542It probably won’t get finished for a couple more days as I haven’t picked out buttons yet. That will involve a foray into the basement which, honestly, could take hours! So I get to cast on for something else in the meantime. Unfortunately, I can’t share details on my next project yet as it’s a test knit that I need to keep under wraps until the pattern is published. I can divulge one thing: I am planning (as long as gauge cooperates) to use this yarn from my Goodwill windfall. That will help with my efforts to keep my stash moving and put things to good use!

In other knitting news, I have my first pic featured on a pattern page on ravelry! I owe this much more to the cuteness of my daughter and the photography skills of my wife than my own knitting prowess, but I’m still pretty psyched about it. The project is my Valentine Helix Hat and this is the pic (photo credit to the wifey):

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Quicksilver and the Importance of Good Knitting Needles

I’m making very good progress on my Quicksilver. I never thought I’d say this, but I can’t wait to block it. I have it crammed on a very short circular needle right now, so I can’t get a sense of what its completed size will be, and I want to see the mesh sections open up and bloom a bit.

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No major hitches, but there were a couple more instances when I dropped a stitch and had to do a little tinking and a little detective work to fix it. Then, I thought I’d dropped a stitch, so went through the process of fixing it…only to realize that I had done it right in the first place. So I went back and fixed my fix. That might have been annoying, but tinking back and really looking at the structure of knitting has been the best way over the years for me to begin to get a better sense of how the stitches work together to create a fabric, and what tension in one area does to the rest. Like any good engineer, I have to take something apart and put it back together in order to fully understand it.

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I have it crammed onto a shorter needle because my next longest needle in that size is some ancient plastic creation that I’m not thrilled about working with. The one I have it one now is an Addi lace circular. I like that much better than the ancient plastic one, but I’m finding it’s not the ideal needle I thought it would be. I bought it recently because I needed one in that size. I would probably have gotten the regular Addis but the person at the store told me about the lace tips. For those not in the know, Addi Turbos are notoriously sleek, slick and quick needles that knitters tend to either love or hate. I love them. I thought it would be awesome to have that same slick needle with a lace tip–i.e., longer/more tapered and pointier; designed for quickly and easily knitting through tiny lace stitches*. However, I didn’t realize at that time that the Addi lace needles do NOT have the same coating that the Turbos do. They are brass instead of nickel and are more grippy than I really want.

So, I’ve done some research on Addis lately, and determined that I want Addi Rockets or Sock Rockets. Same slick finish, same long pointy tip. I think ultimately I want to get an Addi click set (interchangeable needles and cables) with the long Lace tips. In this case, “long” refers to the overall needle length, not the length of the tip. I want the longer needles because I have large hands that tend to fall off the back ends of the shorter ones. It would be convenient to have the shorter ones for some projects (since they don’t contribute extra length to the cable) but I have a few fixed ones that would serve for that. So, on my unofficial wish list they go!

In the meantime, I think it’s time to move to the longer needles…

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I tried stretching them out to get a picture of them that way, but they snapped right back into the above position!

*I am not really a lace knitter to any great extent, but I like the longer and pointier tips because I do tend to knit a little tightly.