The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 18

Day 18: Do you knit English or Continental?

English. It’s how I learned when I was a kid. A friend of mine in college knit Continental. When I saw how fast her knitting went, I switched. It took me a while to get the hang of it and to build up some speed, but I got pretty good with it for a bit. Then school and life happened for a while and I had a knitting dry spell. When I picked the needles up again, my muscle memory kicked in and it was back to English.

I’ve thought about trying to switch again, but have decided against it (at least for now). I do tension one of the yarns in my left hand when I do stranded colorwork but, let’s be honest, I don’t do a ton of stranded colorwork. I’ve stuck with my current style because if I switch I will have a long period when my tension is irregular and my knitting speed drops way down. Although I know I would regain both consistency and speed, the idea sounds really irritating. I rely on knitting a lot at the moment: for pain relief, for emotional solace, for providing a sense of self-worth and accomplishment. If I pulled the rug out from under that I don’t know where I’d be! So for now, I will stick with what’s working. That said, I’m getting to be a pretty quick knitter…for a thrower.

Of note, there are many more styles of knitting than just English and Continental, and there are different variations of both of those styles. Other styles that come to mind are Portuguese knitting, where the knitter tensions the yarn by running it behind her (or his) neck, sometimes guiding it through a specially designed pin worn on the chest. Purling is typically much faster with this style. Also, there’s Irish Cottage or Lever knitting, which is just something else entirely. You can watch the Yarn Harlot churning out knitting on straight needles here and on dpns here. The second video is actually slowed down for a bit and analyzed so that you can actually see what’s happening. It’s just a little crazy. If I were really concerned about speed, I would try to learn that method! As it is, what I’m doing now brings me comfort.

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Bonus sock progress pic!

What’s your knitting style?

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 11

Day 11: Do you have a “Knitter Hero” or someone that is just way too awesome for their own good? Do share!

It’s so funny you asked that! I’ve long been a fan of The Yarn Harlot, aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. She is, for starters, a fabulous knitter. She’s also the first knitting blogger to enter my radar. Her witty and sometimes wry accounts of her knitting exploits are always both informative and amusing. For over twelve years, she’s consistently shared her challenges and successes along with small vignettes of her life and family. Her posts have helped me to realize that even crazy skilled and prolific knitters sometimes have trouble getting started, trouble counting, or trouble trusting their instincts. Sometimes those knitters even end up playing yarn chicken. Reading her writing has helped me up my own game more than once, too. I borrowed this technique twice now and have had good luck with it. Also, I love that she loves beer and coffee*. On top of all of that, she’s an author several times over, a speaker, and a teacher.

So imagine my surprise when I checked my email yesterday and saw the name “Stephanie Pearl-McPhee” in my inbox. It didn’t immediately register, actually. Admittedly, my head was elsewhere–I had just left a job interview, I was thinking about finding a gas station, etc, etc. For once, I wasn’t really thinking about knitting. Then, when I opened the email, it all came flooding back.

You see, the Yarn Harlot embarks every year on a significant charitable fund raising effort. She rides in the PWA’s Friends For Life Bike Rally, a six day and 600 km ride from Toronto to Montreal. The proceeds from this event benefit the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation. As part of this fundraiser, she hosts a giveaway on her blog. She’s dubbed it “karmic balancing gifts”. You can enter the giveaway by donating to the bike rally and then sending her an email to let her know (more detailed instructions can be found on her blog). Then, readers volunteer to donate fiber-related stuff. She matches them up at random, announces the winners on her blog, and notifies them via email.

I haven’t been able to work for several months due to a back injury, so I’m not in a place right now to give a ton to charity. However, every little bit helps and I chipped in a modest donation. And then promptly forgot about it, until I read her email saying I had won a karmic balancing gift! She posted a pic on her blog of the goodies that will be finding their way to me soon:

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Cool, right?? Life is hard right now, but…I’ve said it before: the fiber world just keeps giving back to me, over and over. These three skeins are compliments of Lisa L. My thanks to her and to Stephanie for coordinating such an awesome endeavor!

*If you only click on one link out of this post, this is the one. Just do it. You can thank me later.

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.

Cooler Than Sliced Bread: A Knitting Trick

How did I not post about this when it happened??? All I can think is that I planned to include it on the piece in question’s FO Spotlight post. However, I hit a major stumbling block during the, ahem, blocking, and I never did a spotlight post. There’s no telling when that might happen, so I might as well go ahead and toot my own horn now.

As an aside, I’m what you might call “anxious” at the moment. I was supposed to hear something about the job on the table today, but didn’t. I was also hoping to work on repairing my dropped stitches but had stuff to do all day and couldn’t. So here I am, facing another evening without a knitting project to dig into. Last night I knit a few rows on my Feathery Lace Stole to tide me over, but I really need decent light for that, too.

I digress. A couple of months ago I made a Little Phryne dress for my daughter…out of sock yarn. It’s awesome, but it kind of took me forever. It took a bit to get started and on track. It’s a test knit and there were some numbers and whatnot that needed reworked. I started and frogged a couple of times for various reasons. Well, the third or fourth time I got going on it, I noticed a mistake several rows back. There was no way I was frogging it again, but the mistake was too complicated to fix by just dropping one stitch column down and working it back up. The dress is top down with eyelet raglan increases, and one of the increase sections just didn’t line up.

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Here’s what it’s supposed to look like

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And here’s the wonky one

See how the center spine in the second pic takes a little jog to the right? After the second round of eyelets? And how the eyelets don’t make a nice V shape? Yeah. I don’t know how I made it approximately 14 rows without seeing that, either.

But, hold on a moment here. This is sock yarn. Self-striping sock yarn. I could have added a few random cables and you’d never be able to find them. It’s a little like stripy magic eye. Who would ever notice? Well, what is once seen (by a knitter) can never be unseen and I set about finding a way to fix it. In my last post, I linked to a similar-ish repair job the Yarn Harlot blogged about. If you search back in her archives (sounds a little racy, doesn’t it?) she has another post somewhere about the same kinda deal. I had read both recently and decided to give it a try. So, first I did this:

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Please forgive both the poor lighting and the toddler potty in the background

And then (brace yourself) I did this:

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Aaaaaaghhhh!

I did a couple of things differently than the venerable Harlot. First, I did not label the loops of yarn as I unravelled them. That allowed me to peer painstakingly at each one to figure out which to work next. Second, I didn’t finish it in fifteen minutes of lighthearted knitting. It took me about a half hour of anus-pinchingly detailed work (sorry, Mom) to knit each row back up.

In case you don’t feel like trekking over to the Harlot’s blog (you really should, but I’m not judging. Much.) the idea here is to reknit each row using the unravelled loop. Since it’s attached to live knitting at both ends, that gets a little tricky. I used smaller needles to do this but it still ran pretty tight at the end of each row. If you attempt this, I’d recommend having a couple of small crochet hooks handy and maybe a tasty intoxicating beverage for when you’re done (really…wait until you’re done).

I didn’t take any pics as I was working on it because, honestly, if I’d stopped I might never have started back up again. Also, I wasn’t really thinking about pictures so much as about getting all those blasted stitches where I wanted them, for crying out loud. However, when I was done, I ended up with this:

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The tension is weird and there’s a visible ladder on the left edge of the reknitted panel, but the center spine is straight! The tension issues were easily remedied by a few tugs and pulls to get it all evened out. Now, I couldn’t even tell you which increase line was repaired. Success!

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Can’t see the line, can you Russ?

So there it is. Not the easiest thing I ever did, but it beat the alternative. I added a nifty little tool to my knitting arsenal and saved a WIP from its final frogging. I finished knitting the rest of the dress, then proceeded to block it. Unfortunately, disaster struck again! As soon as it hit the water it went from being about a size 4 to somewhere around a size 10. I’ve gotten pretty good about doing decent gauge swatches, but I never bother to wash them. Whoops! And so I never got around to figuring out how to shrink it back down. I plan to dampen it a bit and then throw it in the dryer (it’s made of Cascade Heritage Prints, a sock yarn, so should fare fine) but haven’t gotten around to it.

It’s really stinkin’ cute. I should just do it.

Happy knitting!