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Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Moth in Wool's Clothing

Thankfully, I have not been seeing any moths flying around the house or any holes in my sweaters, but this article in the Washington Post caught my eye, so thought I should share in case anyone's had to face this distressing development.

I've heard from an expert at the Textile Museum that placing clean garments in plastic bags for short periods of time can really help in avoiding infestations and preserving items.  The WP article also suggests hot storage or running a garment through the clothes dryer, though that sounds a little scary for a wool garment that you want to keep the same size! 

That's why I keep my yarn hanks and balls in plastic containers, for both organizational and cleanliness purposes.  I just heard recently also that you should not wind a hank into a ball until right before you're planning on using it -- the pressure of the outside of the ball on the core can adversely affect the consistency of the yarn.  I'm not sure I've ever noticed anything like that, but I found it to be an interesting tip...

Please join this conversation and share your tips for yarn and garment maintenance here or on my Facebook page!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A New Frontier...

I love to crochet, but I have to admit, the knitting bug has got me!  And it's got me thinking...  Why not combine the two?!  How about using the best techniques from both to create some awesome new patterns?!  I really think that's going to be the next development/evolution in terms of crafting with yarn.  I'm hoping to get a whole new line of baby items designed soon, though of course, right now, I'm obsessed with making myself a sweater that I can actually wear in public :-) and trying not to get pulled into too many other directions (bright, shiny objects are a weakness of mine...).

As I've been working my way up the learning curve in developing more skills in both crochet and knitting, I came across this blog post on How to Read a Crochet Pattern.  The author does such a great job of breaking it down and explaining each step in a sample pattern round.  I know one of the toughest things about taking the next step after learning basic crochet stitches is being able to do something with them, and I hope this article will help you decipher that new crochet pattern you've been wanting to try.

Learning how to knit has really made me appreciate the importance of fundamentals and going back to basics, and I think it might actually help me be a better crocheter too!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

It's Fleece Time Again!

So it's shearing time on the farm again!  And Caroline Owens has been kind enough to send me before and after pictures:

Mmm, her wool is looking as nice as it did last year, and the yield looks pretty good too:

I asked Caroline to send it off to the processing mill this year instead of directly to me, since I still have the bag o' washed fleece from last year!  Though I'm excited about the possibilities of taking a spinning class this spring at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria VA.  A friend of mine, who also adopted a sheep from the Owens farm, has signed up, so I think that'll make it even more fun.

Now, poor Princess is shivering again!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Knitting Observations of a Crocheter

Well, I have to admit, I am enjoying the knitting, but I have noticed a few things that I thought I would share for those crocheters out there who, like me, are intimidated by the thought of trying to knit:

1)  I've always said it is hard to learn how to crochet, but easy to make things; it is easy to learn how to knit, but hard to make things.  Especially in the round.  It's hard to perch 3 or 4 double pointed needles to try to get something going, when with crochet, you just need one hook.  But, again, the flexible fabric that results from knitting in the round is what is going to get me my socks!  It seems that the trick is to keep the yarn tight when crossing over from one needle to the next, so I give it an extra tug before moving on to the next stitches.

2)  Another hard aspect is undoing mistakes.  If you get distracted while knitting and make a mistake, it's not as easy as just pulling out a few crochet stitches and starting over -- you have to carefully undo the stitches and get them back on the left needle and then redo.  It's also important to be sure that the loops are turned in the same directions, or it really affects how the completed stitch looks.  I came across a book called Knit Fix: Problem Solving for Knitters that has been helpful in addressing the boo boos.

3)  Knitting instructions are even harder to understand than crochet ones!  Especially European instructions -- actually, I wouldn't even call them instructions, they're more like "guidelines."  But, in a way, they give you the freedom to experiment and make the project your own.

But, having said all this, I am really starting to appreciate how the differences between the techniques can enhance the final product, and I'm getting inspired to create some combination projects.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

And Twas the Day After New Year's!

And I'm barely stirring...  I have tried to unplug again and am spending my time knitting (?!) and playing this addictive game on my iPad.  It's called "Found" and I justify it by saying that it is helping with concentration and eye-hand coordination ;-)  It's free in the iTunes app store, but don't blame me if you get lured in...

And, yes, I said it, I've been knitting.  Remember how, way back when, I said that I am determined to make a pair of socks.  Well, crochet socks are just not the same.  I think crochet booties for babies are actually better than knit booties because they aren't as flexible, so baby won't kick or push them off as easily.  But, the lack of "give" in crochet socks just don't work as well for grown-up feet, so I'm going to knit a pair.  Actually, I just want little ankle length "tennis socks" so how hard can that be?!  (famous last words...).  I've still got that beautiful yarn from the Metro Yarn Crawl last year, and I've got to finish it up before I can justify buying a whole bunch of new yarn this year.

Because I am still a crocheter at heart, I've decided to make "toe up" socks because it makes more sense to me.  I signed up for Knit Toe Up Socks on Craftsy (if you're interested, please sign up through my affiliate link above, thank you :-), and since Craftsy has a new iPad app, it's so easy to watch and pause to give it a try.  The course covers all aspects of making socks -- different toe and heel constructions as well as help on making other choices along the way.  I like the instructor too, I feel like she's really trying to anticipate your questions and answer them as she goes along.  Actually, I used her suggestions to start a knit baby hat from the top -- I figured that might be an easier way to get a feel for working in the round with knitting and using double pointed needles.

I will keep you posted on my progress!