Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Favourite gift knits

Soooo, I didn't do a lot of gift knitting this year. In fact substanially less than I had planned to do. (Though isn't that always the way?)

But I thought I'd take a minute to comment on all my "last-minute" Xmas knitting and what I consider to be solid/go-to gift patterns.

Quite literally I finished knitting this hat for my sister-in-law on Christmas eve. I managed to snap a couple quick pictures of it before adding it to her gift on Xmas day...

pattern: Star Crossed slouchy beret by Natalie Larson

star crossed

For starters, this pattern is gloriously FREE...and it looks like almost 7000 people on ravelry have knit it. Surely 7000 people can't be wrong!

I've knit it once before in Malabrigo with great results (though it was a little on the large size) and this latest one I knit in Patons Classic, and the size was pretty much bang on how I wanted it to be.

It goes up fast on larger needles, has enough subtle cables that keep it interesting looking (as well as keeping the knitting itself interesting) and as far as I can tell looks totally cute on everyone! Why I haven't knit one of these for myself yet I simply do not understand. I will have to rectify that soon!

And another go-to hat pattern that I seem to knit a lot:

Seaman's cap

The Seaman's cap from needlebeetle. (Also knit here in Patons Classic)

Nat models Colin's hat for me

This was one of the first "real" things I ever knit (and by that I mean something other than a scarf...knitting in the round and decreasing seemed so complicated at the time, I remember having my mom help me with the whole "DPN" issue) She was the one that actually came across this pattern (it's free as well), and no joke I think she's probably knit HUNDREDS of them at this point.

She does a lot of charity knitting and I remember one year she had---seriously-- a garbage bag full of these hats that she was donating. She loves this pattern, and I have to say, I agree with her. It looks good on both men and women, and is just a great basic & classic design.

Also on my hot list for gift-giving (and again, a freebie)

is the textured shawl recipe

I knit this last year for my gran-in-law and the second I mailed it out knew I wanted one for myself, so knit this one a couple months back in Sublime's cashmere merino silk DK.

textured shawl

I wasn't quite as jazzed with how this one turned out versus the first one I knit, so I might actually try it again in another yarn.

There is just something about this pattern that makes you feel like it's knitting up fast. Maybe that's true of all shawls (when you start at the smallest point and go up from there I guess that's a given). It's not really until the last few rows that it starts to feel like a slog, but by then you're almost done and the end is in sight so you seem to just be automatically propelling yourself forward to completion.

Though likely maybe the same's not true if you were knitting a more complicated lace-weight shawl? Maybe I should try that some time and see.

Last week for the first time in a long time I had to consult knittinghelp.com. There was an abbreviation in a pattern I'm working on that I haven't come across before (yes this still happens!) and it dawned on me how much I owe to that particular website.

Apart from the fundamentals of knitting that I gleaned from my mother many many years ago (and promptly forgot/lost interest in I might add), I really attribute most of my beginner learnings about knitting to that website. It really is insane how there's a tutorial for virtually anything you might want online, and if you are a beginning knitter I would encourage you to check it out.

Even if you're not a new knitter you might be surprised about a tidbit here or there that you might pick up on that site. It dawned on me while I was on there that as "experienced" I am now as a knitter, I kind of feel like I've stalled out a bit...I haven't really learned anything "new" in some time. I don't know if that's because I wimp out or I play it safe and only stick to what I know (though I never let anything complicated stop me, I just knit what I'm interested in regardless of what it is, so maybe that's not it).

I'm not somebody who really has a lot of friends that knit (there are definitely some co-workers that do, but we don't knit together per se) nor do I attend any kind of SnB (I have yet to find one that really works for my schedule) so I'm feeling a bit like I'm not on a continuous learning track with knitting like I should be --or maybe I am and I just don't know it.

Whatever the case, sometimes the most obvious little tidbits seem to allude me and then when I do come across them they just blow me away in the why-the-hell-didn't-I-think-of-this-myself? manner.

I recently had one of those "knitting tip" type moments that I'd like to share.

At this point I can't even remember whose blog or where I found this tip so apologies for that.

I knit a lot of things in the round --cowls, hats etc. as a lot of you do. You cast on, you join your stitches and you follow the pattern from there. My "join" has always been fine, but I was always mindful of tightening or fixing it on the next row/round, or being sure to fix it up at the end when I was weaving in loose ends etc. I never really worried about it, but definitely when I first started knitting I hated how that looked.

The tip I gleaned for knitting in the round was this: Cast on one extra stitch than the pattern calls for. When you finish casting on and are about to join in the round, move that last stitch over to your left needle first and then knit your first two stitches together with the right needle as usual (English style knitting I mean...). Essentially your last stitch becomes your first and you have a PERFECT join with the right amount of cast on stitches again.

I'm sure this is an elemental "no duh" moment for a lot of you, but man this tip blew my mind and has essentially become a given for me ever since.

Ok, I will stop talking now.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

requisite 2010 retrospective

2010 knits
(click on the mosaic for links to all of these items)

You know...I actually thought I hadn't really knit that much last year. But I guess the mosaic doesn't lie. Still, it's not exactly epic.

And I've actually got three or four things from 2010 that I still need to post about. Ugh, Hopefully I can get to that this week!

Knitting aside, it was a hell of a year for me...major ups and downs, so I'm hoping 2011 will be a much more relaxed year (knocks wood).

Seems I was smart enough last year not to make any knitting-related resolutions--though I still have yet to learn how to crochet. And while I've made some serious advances in de-stashing there's a long way to go (not to mention the joy of yarn shopping being sucked out of that whole process).

I do however think as I look at that mosaic that my days of sweater knitting for myself are on the wane. I really just do not wear any of them. Still I would never rule it out...a must knit will no doubt catch my eye eventually.

I'm also struck by the colour palate I chose. I think of myself as always knitting in a sea of neutrals--and there's definitely a lot of that there, but there's a lot of colour too. It's kind of making me feel less guilty about my usual neutralness--apparently I accessorize in colour!

So there you have it: my 2010 in knits!