Ending The Year With A Complaint

My blogging has been spotty at best the past couple of years, but it’s not for lack of subject matter. I have been knitting and spinning a lot, and I even was dealt quite a surprise by life that I could certainly right reams about. (Nothing earth-shattering, just a rather definitive change of hair texture from almost perfectly straight to pretty wavy/curly, but, oh my, how different curly hair is from straight!)

Considering the dearth of recent blog posts, you may be wondering what has spurred me to write, and a complaint no less. It’s probably not what you guessed. The following post has nothing to do with Donald J. Trump and the evil circus that currently occupies The White House. But if you guessed YouTube, you would be right. The following complaint has to do with YouTube, but not with YouTube in general. I find YouTube to be very useful and entertaining. My beef is with a specific YouTube video I watched earlier today.

My complaint needs some context; I hope I don’t bore you to tears setting things up. Oh, and one more thing before I begin: if you are a Continental knitter in the US (Continental knitters hold the working yarn in their left hand), you may find what follows insulting, offensive, mean, or just plain ignorant. If you wish to avoid feeling all butt-hurt, stop reading now and go watch a Disney movie or something. If you read it anyway and feel insulted, offended, picked on, or hurt, well, I’m pretty sure that means you saw yourself reflected in my complaint.

So, I have been knitting since I was 9 years old. My mother taught me to knit, and she taught me to knit the way that she knitted, which was the way that she was taught to knit, English throwing, in which the working yarn is held in and manipulated by the right hand. In spite of the fact that my mother could knit Argyle socks in her sleep (Ewwww! Intarsia), she was never a very adventurous knitter and didn’t often try to improve or expand her knitting skills. I, on the other hand, always worried that I was doing things wrong, always wondered whether there was a better way than the way I was doing it, and always wanted to add new skills to my knitting knowledge. But not intarsia. Intarsia is evil.

Over the years, I taught myself a number of techniques including a bazillion different ways to cast on and cast off. I also taught myself how to knit in the round on double pointed needles (mittens and socks); how to knit lace (the first time I knitted lace patterns, I didn’t know it was lace, and I didn’t know lace was supposed to be hard); knitting socks on two circular needles; knitting in the round using Magic Loop; and doing stranded color work using two hands (which means I was knitting one of the colors using my left hand, aka Continental). Some of the techniques I kept. Some I abandoned. And I still am searching for that perfect cast off. There’s always something new to try in knitting.

Although I have become proficient at using my left hand Continental style for two-color stranded knitting, I’m still not all that great at knitting Continental–my tension is rubbish–and I find purling Continental style cumbersome and tedious, although I am better at it when I purl combination style which means I wrap the working yarn around the right-hand needle the opposite direction which changes the seating of the stitch which means I then have to knit that stitch through the back loop on the next row. (Sorry for that sentence.)

However, I am not a total fumble-fingers when it comes to left-handed knitting. I have recently been toying with Portuguese knitting, a style of left-handed knitting that originated in the Middle East and spread from there to the Balkans, Greece, and Portugal, and from Portugal to South America. In this type of knitting, the yarn goes from the right hand around the neck to the left hand (or a special type of pin may be attached to the clothing on the knitter’s left shoulder and the yarn goes over the pin instead of the neck) and the stitches are made by flicking the working yarn over the right-hand needle with the left thumb. It is a very efficient way to knit, and the purl stitch is even easier to do than the knit stitch. In Portuguese knitting, garter stitch knitted back and forth is done in purl instead of knit, and when knitting stocking stitch in the round, it is done with the purl side to the outside (inside out) because purling is so efficient in this style of knitting. I have caught on to Portuguese style knitting very quickly, and after only a day of practice, I feel completely comfortable with it. Really, it’s a great technique and very easy to do.

So what the heck do I have to complain about? Well, I’ve been watching videos on Portuguese knitting on YouTube. I have learned a lot of new knitting techniques by watching videos on YouTube, and there are some outstanding Portuguese knitting instructional videos available. YouTube is a treasure trove for knitters. But it is also a rabbit hole, and not all videos are created equal. During my Portuguese knitting video binge, one video led to another and then another, and then I watched a video recorded by a Continental knitter who was trying Portuguese knitting, and not doing very well because she wasn’t doing it correctly. I’m not sure what value she thought would be in a video demonstrating a technique that she admittedly was unable to actually do properly because since she doesn’t tension her yarn when she knits Continental (actually, she does, she just doesn’t recognize it), she wasn’t tensioning the yarn when attempting to do Portuguese knitting. Fortunately, the commenters were not shy to point out that her refusal to tension the yarn with her right hand was the reason the Portuguese knitting wasn’t working for her. I’m not quite sure why a knitter would make and then upload a video to demonstrate a knitting skill that she doesn’t have, but she is a Continental knitter in the US. Just sayin’.

But while that video may have primed me, it’s not the one that set me off. It was the one that followed, in which a Continental knitter in the US was comparing Continental knitting with English knitting. Now, even without watching the video, you know that the knitter is going to be dissing English knitting because that is what Continental knitters in the US do. I was curious to hear (and see) her ignorance of English knitting, because Continental knitters in the US tend to be totally lacking in a knowledge or understanding of English knitting. So I was treated to the usual crap about about how much better and faster Continental knitting is than English knitting and how hard it is to purl in English knitting (because you fucking don’t know how to purl right-handed, you blithering twit), and blah, blah, blah. Seriously, if you are going to post a video on YouTube that is supposed to be a demonstration to compare Continental and English knitting, you for damn sure ought to be able to actually do English knitting.

The way she was knitting English was typical of rank beginners. But it seems to be pretty common for Continental knitters, at least those in the US, to have some serious misconceptions about English knitting. They seem to think that their shitty attempts at English knitting are actually how right-handed throwers knit (no, we don’t drop the yarn between stitches, and even though we do take our right hand off the needle when we throw the yarn, it’s a quick and efficient motion, not a slow, long, drawn-out affair), and they don’t seem to even be aware that flickers (their right hand never leaves the needle) and lever knitters (their right hand never touches the needle unless they are using short needles) exist. I cannot tell you how many YouTube videos I have watched in which a Continental knitter has tried to demonstrate how to do a particular maneuver English style, but they cannot fucking do it right. You know what, just do it Continental. Believe it or not, we English throwers will be able to translate it to right-handed knitting or find a video with a right-handed knitter demonstrating the maneuver. It’s not rocket science, it’s knitting.

And now I will end this post by saying what I really shouldn’t have to say but still have to say it–NOT ALL CONTINENTAL KNITTERS!

Spinzilla 2017 Is Almost Here

I took a little break from spinning to finish up some mitts for the Fingerless Gloves Fanatics 17 Points in 2017 Challenge on Ravelry. This year’s challenge is very much an individual one in that the group came up with a list of things that get points and we decide for ourselves just how we add them up. In previous years, there were limits on how many points you could get in various categories, but that ended up being a lot of work for the volunteer moderators who oversee the challenge. This year the group decided to make the group’s challenge less burdensome on the moderators. The participants decide for themselves how many times they can use any given category and tailor the level of challenge to their own needs and desires.

I decided that I would not use any category more than once, and as of last night, I have accumulated 16 points. Only one more point to go. But the next pair of mitts will have to wait until after Spinzilla.

Sixteen points’ worth. The mitts on the lower right are the most recent pair. I finished them last night before I went to bed.

I have also done some Spinzilla preparation. I have gotten the fiber I plan to spin all prepped, stripped, whatever, and I have written down just how I plan to spin and ply each fiber.

All the fiber is from Sweet Georgia Yarns in Vancouver, BC. I don’t know whether I will be able to spin and ply all of it in one week, but I sure as hell am going to try.

 

And in case you were wondering whether I have been able to keep my Introvert Room tidy, you can judge for yourselves.

I think my desk is still pretty tidy.

The “trash” corner is looking good!

On the right side of the top of the piano are the bags of fiber I plan to spin during Spinzilla.

My reading corner is still looking neat. Notice there are no empty Pepsi bottles anywhere. LOL

The book shelves are still relatively neat. I have two bobbins of plied yarn on one of the shelves that need to be wound off before Spinzilla begins.

It’s even still tidy behind the door!

Mitts And More Mitts (And An Ear Warmer, Too)

I have been trying to knit up some of my handspun. I have accumulated a lot of it since I started spinning five years ago, and with another Tour de Fleece under my belt, and my second Spinzilla looming, the handspun is really piling up. But lo and behold! I have made a tiny dent in the stash. None of these items has been washed yet; heck, not all the ends have been woven in yet. But the knitting is finished, so I count these as FOs that qualify for the Happy Dance.

When I finished these mitts, I still had a fair amount of yarn left, so I knitted a matching ear warmer. The stitch pattern was borrowed from Claire Devine’s Everyday Brew Hat. The yarn is my handspun from 2012. It’s some of my earliest wheel-spun yarn using Corriedale pin-drafted roving from Sunset Fibers. It was the October 2012 selection from the Fiber-of-the-Month Club.

As you can see, these mitts weren’t quite finished when I photographed them. One of them still needed a thumb. They are completely finished now, but I’m too lazy to take another picture. I call these the Pittsburgh Skyline mitts, so named because the colors remind me of the colors you can see in the Pittsburgh skyline as viewed from PNC Park as day changes to night. The handspun is Falkland from Into The Whirled in the color way 24-1/2th Century. The pattern is just a 1 x 1 ribbing using my standard worsted-weight yarn mitts template.

I started with a tubular cast on, which works very well for 1 x 1 ribbing. I think it looks fantastic, and it is very stretchy.

This is the bound-off edge. I’m not very good at doing a tubular bind off because for some reason, I always get the edge too tight. But a search of YouTube turned up an invisible 1 x 1 bind off that looks just like the tubular bind off but without the double knitted part. It’s easy to do, and I can do it without making the edge too tight.

At the moment, I have yet another pair of mitts OTN, also in handspun, but this time the yarn is fingering weight and the pattern is a wee bit fancy. But you will have to wait a few days before you get to see them. 🙂

A Long Time Coming

So, I am finally getting around to posting pictures of some of the knitting I have been doing. These pictures are a shawl I knitted from handspun. The fiber is Wensleydale from Spunky Eclectic in the color way Island Dreams that I spun into a 2-ply laceweight yarn; the shawl was knitted from two strand of the yarn held together. The pattern is the Campside Shawl by Alicia Plummer and was started a little over a year ago as part of a KAL in the Spunky group on Ravelry. The shawl knitting was interrupted by some baby blanket knitting, and it took me a while to get back to it. All the pictures of the shawl are before blocking, so you really cannot get a good idea of how lovely this pattern is.

A close-up picture of the upper edge of the shawl. I spun each bump of the yarn from end to end and somehow all the colors lined up in a way that resulted in some very nice, subtle striping.

The colors in this picture are more saturated than in real life. The first picture is closer to the actual colors. But in this picture you can see the center “spine” of the triangular shawl. The bottom edge of the shawl is a few rows of garter stitch. When I block the shawl, the edge will no longer roll. Fingers crossed.

Once again, the color is off, but you can see the shape of the shawl. It looks like the tips are going to curve, so the shawl should fit very nicely.

Once I have blocked the shawl, I will post more pictures of it. I don’t know how much use it will get because Wensleydale is a bit on the scratchy side, and since I doubled the yarn, it’s going to be a very warm shawl. But even if I don’t wear it much, it was a lot of fun to knit.

Faded Roses

My Faded Roses Graham-finity Cowl has been washed and blocked, and it is now dry. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. As I suspected, it did grow quite a bit when I washed it. I’ll admit I was a teeny bit worried because it was a little on the small side when I took it off the needles, and because it’s a cowl, I didn’t bother to swatch. Even if it had ended up being a little small, it would have fit someone.

This picture captures the colors pretty well. The hot pink really pops.

If you wear the cowl as a single loop, it’s pretty long and it’s wide enough that it will cover your chest and keep it warm under your coat.

 

Worn as a double loop, the cowl is sure to keep your neck warm, and if your head and ears get cold, you can pull one of the loops up over your head for added warmth there.

My iPhone doesn’t take the best pictures because the selfie camera isn’t the greatest, bit you can still get a good idea of how the cowl fits and looks when doubled. An added bonus is that you get to see the results of my recent hair cut.

This cowl is truly one of a kind. I will probably give it away because as much as I love it, these are just not my colors.

 

Knitting Is My Bag

It has been a long time since I blogged about my knitting, which seems odd for a blog that is called All Kinds of Knitting, but that doesn’t mean that no knitting has been happening. It just means that no blogging has been happening.

My most recent FO is a cowl knitted from my own handspun yarn.

This lovely Loop Bump…

This color way is called faded roses. It has bright pink, dark reds, browns, and brownish grays in it.

became *this singles…

I spun this singles on my Ashford Traveller in double drive using the sliding hook flyer. The singles on the bobbin gives a fair representation of the colors in the bump. Only the brownish grays are MIA in this picture.

which became this yarn…

I chain-plied the singles to create a lovely self-striping yarn with long repeats. Loop bumps are perfect for spinning end to end and chain-plying to get lovely self-striping yarns with long repeats of color.

which became this, my Faded Roses Graham-finity Cowl.

The color in the picture is skewed to purple. I tried to correct it but failed. There is really no purple or purplish in this yarn

The pattern I used is the Graham-finity Cowl which is a free download on Ravelry. Although the stitch pattern works up differently on each side of the fabric, the resulting cowl is reversible because both sides look like they could be the right side (aka, the public side).

 

This is the side the designer intends as the “right” side, but when you are knitting the cowl, this side is the “wrong” side, that is, it is not the side that is facing the knitter.

This is the “wrong” side of the cowl, although it is the side facing the knitter when the cowl is being worked.

I haven’t washed and blocked the cowl yet. I expect it to grow a little bit once I have washed it. I have knitted this pattern before using handspun yarn, and I love the resulting cowl and wore it all winter.

This is my Fancy Pants Graham-finity Cowl that I knitted from a lovely 50/50 Merino/silk blend from Woolgatherings that I spun up into a somewhat nubby and a little bit thick-and-thin yarn.

The Graham-finity pattern is great for handspun because there is a lot of texture to the pattern, so minor or even major inconsistencies in the yarn don’t stand out. Also, it is a simple pattern that is easy to memorize, but it doesn’t get totally boring. Yet it makes for pretty mindless knitting, so it is a great pattern for watching hockey, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, or binge-watching television shows. I can’t praise this pattern enough. I love it.

After casting off Faded Roses, I immediately picked up a UFO in handspun that got set aside months ago for baby blanket knitting and pussy hats. I want to finish it before I start yet another baby blanket or get to work on knitting fingerless mitts. I really need to do more knitting and use up some of the handspun I have made.

 

*I waver on whether singles when referring to an unplied yarn should be singular or plural. These singles? This singles? Singles is? Singles are? I think it probably should be singular, as in a singles can be plied with another singles to make a two-ply yarn, but it makes for some awkward-sounding English to treat it as a singular substantive adjective (an adjective that stands in the place of a noun). If one calls it a singles yarn, one would definitely use singular demonstrative adjectives, indefinite adjectives and verbs: This singles yarn is an example of a singles yarn. So, logically, when singles is used in place of singles yarn, it should be singular: This singles is an example of a singles. I can avoid the problem altogether by simply using singles yarn in place of singles, or by rewording the sentence so that singles isn’t the subject of the verb. Comments are welcome.

 

Mitts Are My Master

There was a time when I looked at pictures of fingerless mitts and… Meh! Really, why would anyone except maybe toll collectors wear fingerless mitts? thought I. Then smartphones. That was my A-ha! moment. I knitted my first pair of fingerless mitts for my DIL, and I haven’t stopped. Really, they are as addicting as socks, maybe even more addicting because they take so little time and yarn to knit. They are a great way to use up leftover yarn and can be knitted in any weight yarn. Fingerless mitts are the best thing ever.

And fingerless mitts are far more useful than I ever dreamed. I have always hated driving in gloves, so in the winter, my hands would be cold on the steering wheel. But now I’m nice and cosy when driving in cold weather because fingerless mitts! I can keep my mitts on in the store and handle money with no problems. I can read and send texts and answer or make phone calls without having to take off my mitts like I would have to do with gloves. I can carry shopping bags more securely with fingerless mitts on than with gloves on. And when it is super cold outside, I can slip a pair of fingerless mitts over a pair of gloves for extra warmth. Fingerless mitts are great!

I am always on the look-out for fingerless mitt patterns that appeal to me, and I recently found a free pattern from the Cascade Yarn Company. The Alhambra Hand Warmers really struck my eye. I thought the cable pattern was interesting, and that the pattern would look great worked up in worsted weight yarn. And I had some leftover lovely purple-blue worsted weight wool in my stash that I thought would show off this pattern perfectly.

Version 2

Because I worked the cables with a cable needle instead of using the method in the directions, and because I wasn’t paying close attention, I crossed my cables the wrong way, to the right instead of to the left.

But I thought the mitts as pictured on the pattern instructions left a lot to be desired.

The color of the yarn used doesn’t show off the cables very well.

Version 2

I don’t think this color would sing to anybody.

And the stocking stitch palm means the mitts will not fit a wide range of hands. On the model, the mitts look ill-fitting and sloppy.

DSC06694

The mitts droop around the wrists when the wrists are flexed. Ugh!

DSC06696

Really, just looking at these pictures might turn anyone away from making these mitts. The yarn they are knitted from is acrylic held double, the they just don’t look very good. And both mitts look like they have biased, but perhaps the model just didn’t bother to make certain they were on straight before the mitts were photographed.

So I decided to do some modifications to the pattern to produce a better fitting mitt.

Version 2

My main modification was to knit the palm in 2 x 2 ribbing. Now the wrists won’t be all droopy and the mitts will fit a wider range of hand sizes.

Version 2

I knitted an extra repeat of the cable pattern and did the thumb gusset increases every third round instead of every other round so that the mitts would fit my hand better. Otherwise, they would not have been long enough for me. Ignore my thumb. It looks worse than it is.

My modifications are detailed in the notes on my Ravelry project page, which you can view by clicking here.

The yarn I used is Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted weight wool, my favorite basic wool yarn, in Sapphire that I had left over from another project, and I was pretty sure I had enough to knit these mitts. I don’t normally play yarn chicken, but I decided to give it a whirl and, YAY! I won!

Nearly completed. The yarn that is left is on the left. The mitt on the far right still needs the thumb. There will be just enough yarn to do the thumb and probably a yard or two leftover. Perfect!

The little ball of yarn that is on the left is all that remains. It should be plenty to finish the thumb on the right-hand mitt, which is on the far right of the picture. I was cutting it close.

These mitts were a lot of fun to knit, the pattern is pretty well written, and I found only one mistake. It is written for one size only, but the knitter could easily adjust the size by using larger or smaller needles or a different weight of yarn. The directions for the cables are written only, no charts, so if you prefer to work from charts, you would have to make your own. This is a free pattern, so I’m not complaining about these “deficiencies,” just making sure that anyone who is interested in the patterns knows that there are no charts and only one size.

As an aside, I really hate it when knitters complain when a free pattern doesn’t have multiple sizes, or doesn’t have both charts and written out directions, or contains a few minor mistakes. They are usually the same knitters who bitch about having to pay for a pattern. If you want all the bells and whistles, you are going to have to pay for it. Tech editors and test knitters don’t work for free, nor should they. End of rant. End of post.