Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Charlotte Blocking

As luck would have it, last week I was strolling the internet for some shawl pictures, and I came across the Harlot's instuctions for blocking lace. Great timing.

This is my side of the bed, so I hope it dries by tonight! Those aren't garish stripey sheets, those are our beach towels. The water turned slightly pink when I gave the shawl her bath, and I didn't want to leave a large pink lacy imprint on my sheets.

It is a little smaller than the dimensions given in the directions, and I think it would have stretched more if my bind off had been a little looser. (When they say to bind off loosely, seriously, they mean LOOSELY.)

But I compared it to the two other shawls I have, and I think I will like it this way. I don't need another huge shawl.

Here you can see the yarn I sewed through the edge stitches, as per Stephanie's instructions. It worked well.

And now for something completely different.

Last week, while I was knitting Charlotte and making mistakes, I decided I needed a mindless knitting project to pick up during the day. I'll show you a peek now, and describe them in greater detail later:

The Irish Hiking Scarf, from Hello Yarn. Classic Elite Inca Alpaca. For my son's kindergarden teacher. Great pattern, easy knit, this would be great pattern for someone who wanted to learn cables.

Retro Prep, from Interweave Knits Fall 02. Girl! Retro Prep and Charlotte's Web in the same post?!? What is this, 2003?!?

I have never claimed to be on the cutting edge.

This is some yarn that I received in trade with Melody last week (she was drunk, I took advantage), that I loved so much I just had to use immediately. It's Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed. I have modified the pattern to use heavy worsted instead of DK.

Last week Diane asked if I was a continental knitter. I get asked this a lot, in conjunction with--"how do you knit so fast?"--so I thought I'd answer it here.

Yes, I knit continental style. (I hold the yarn in my left hand, and I scoop the yarn off my left index finger rather than wrapping the yarn with my right hand.) Most people think this is a faster way of knitting, although I have seen some fast wrappers, faster than me.

But I do knit decently fast. Most knitting instructions call for four motions, stick the needle in, wrap it, pull it through, and off the needle. Most people get this down to about 3 motions, combining the pull through and off the needle. I think I have it down to about 2 motions, combining the scoop, pull through, and off in one feel swoop. Sorry if this is getting too technical.

I think there is a little more to it than that, though.

First of all, I knit a lot. I knit a little bit in the morning, sitting at the table as the kids are eating breakfast. I try to pick it up sometimes during the day, and I usually knit a bit while in the car at kindergarden pickup. Since my kids are little, I don't have all the running around after dinner, because we don't have a lot of afterschool activities yet. The kids go to bed by 7:30, and I do about a 1/2 hour of clean up and laundry, and then I sit and knit. Sometimes quilt, if I have a deadline, but for the past couple of years I have been too tired to do anything but knit.

So, even if I don't get knitting in during the day, I almost always do 2-3 hours at night.

Secondly, I have space around the house to leave knitting projects, the kitchen counter, the fireplace mantle, the car. I have bags with each project, the yarn, needles, instructions. I pick up and do a few rows here and there whenever I can.

Which brings me to the last and most important thing: I have several projects going at once. Usually as many as six. Some people seem to think that having a lot of projects is frivolous, but I think it's smart. I always have something in a mindless stockinette stage that I can pick up at a moments notice and work on. This is probably how I got so many socks done last year (27) because I always have a sock in the car, and usually another in the house.

I don't get too frustrated if I get stumped with one project, because I have something else to pick up and wait until I can spend the quiet time and energy on the problem.

Some of this stuff seems like such common sense, that it seems silly to write it down. But I someone finds something in there that's useful.


Blogger Katy said...

I am not good at knitting while my kids are around; obviously I need to make more socks. ;) I also need to get more organized during the day so I am not spending my evenings doing clean-up and laundry!

6:03 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Mel said...

I love love love Charlotte! Woowoo!
I also love the yarn I got in trade from you, altho I can't remember how that all took place...hic.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Diane D. said...

Charlotte looks great! Thanks for explaining your speed tips - I feel much better now. I guess step one for me is to get the kids to bed earlier.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

people ask me the same thing. I guess they think if you have small kids, you don't have time to do anything. I use a lot of the same techniques - although the speed cleaning isn't likely to happen soon ;-)

9:40 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

Charlotte looks beautiful!

12:48 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

ooooh, that came out just beautifully. thanks for the lace blocking link -- it'll be a big help for my lacy summer projects. before I start any, though, I have to learn to knit "continental" both to improve my speed and because I now have constant pain in my right shoulder... doc was stumped till she came back in the room and watched me knit for a minute while she talked (she's a knitter, too -- go figure). gah, a knitting injury!!

10:59 PM  
Blogger mary m. said...


The shawl is gorgeous, even with the towel stripes showing through!

I learned to knit about 2-3 years ago. After a few months, I noticed a woman in the shop knitting Continental Style. Immediately saw how much more ergonomic it was....using less rotator cuff muscles throwing the yarn over, so I relearned knitting Continental Style. It was challenging at first, but muscle memory took over, and there is no going back. I even love purling Continental.

And they do mean loosely when instructing you to bind off. Just last night I bound off stitches around the neckline of my sweater, and didn't do them loosely enough and couldn't even get my head through the hole!

6:07 AM  

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