Frantically Knitting

In the last 3 months since starting my new job I’ve gotten one sock knit as far as the heel. Plus most of my Knitmas project. Unfortunately that’s most but not all of my knitmas project. I went a bit mad and decided to try new things, in the hopes that my pal would appreciate the thought at least. But I’m really not sure I like how it’s turning out. I have so much more to do, not enough time to start something new and it all needs to be washed and dried and in the post by Monday. While my class have two exams this week – which means a LOT of corrections! Only two more hectic weeks of term left and hopefully then I’ll have some more crafting adventures to blog about. Also hopefully I’ll have some fun knitmas pictures to share. I would cross my fingers but I need every little second spare to knit and it’s pretty tricky to do with your fingers crossed! I’ve put so much thought into my package but I’m not able to realise all my plans.

Knit Bake Sew Blog Tour: Teamwork

Recently Evin, an American ex-pat I met when I was in Cork, published a book of knitting and sewing patterns, paired with recipes based around the changing seasons. The book is now going on a blog tour, and today it’s calling at Fibre Friends.

Evin first mentioned her book idea around a year ago, shortly before she started her Kickstarter campaign. At the time I was newly and surprisingly out of work as the job I had lined up had evaporated, so when Evin asked me to help out with the technical aspects of the knitting patterns, I had both the inclination and the time to get stuck in.
For most of the  knitting projects, this involved checking for typos and making sure all the numbers added up correctly before the patterns could be sent to test knitters. One project, though, ended up being much more of a team effort.
Evin had a very definite plan for her Falling Petals shawl, complete with detailed sketches of the overall design and a pattern for the lace border. Unfortunately the vision wasn’t quite meeting up with reality. Luckily, Evin and I have complementary skill sets when it comes to designing shawls. Evin is a visual person who can form an idea in her mind of what she wants to have and put that down on paper. I’m not very visual, and don’t seem to be inclined towards design, but I do have a lot of experience of staring at pages of numbers until they do what they’re told.
The tricky part wasn’t, as you might expect, the lace edging, it was the body of the shawl. The body of the shawl has two types of increases. One increase creates the semi-circular shape (technically half an octagon, but who’s counting). These increases had to be invisible, hiding among the garter stitch. The other increases were to be yarn overs, creating the impression of blossoms falling from the trees. The distribution of the increases had to be different, so we had to figure out how to space them on each row, making sure that the stitch count always made sense. I won’t go into the details, but there were spreadsheets.
The end result is a shawl that is simple to knit but looks impressive, and a pattern that Evin and I can be proud of having created together.
© 2014 Evin Bail O'Keeffe
You can purchase the book from Big Cartel and follow Evin’s other adventures at her blog.
To follow this book on it’s tour, check out the following blogs over the next few days.
Monday, November 10 – Reckless Knitting
Tuesday, November 11 – Fibre Friends
Wednesday, November 12 – Jen’s Kitchen
Thursday, November 13 – The Dublin Knit Collective
Friday, November 14 – Crafty Tails
Saturday, November 15 – The Writer’s Journey
Sunday, November 16 – Lisa Bogart Thoughts
Monday, November 17 – Glass of Win aka Moonstruck Quaint
Tuesday, November 18 –  TanisKnits
Wednesday, November 19 – Lilly Higgins
Thursday, November 20 – Calso Cooks
Friday, November 21 – By Eline
Saturday, November 22 – Yarn Poetry
Sunday, November 23 – Live and Let Pie

Analogue vs Digital vs Knitting

On the one hand, if you shun modern technology and gadgets, you’re a Luddite who is stuck in the past.

On the other hand, if you avoid pen and paper and real, dead-tree format books, you’re a mindless zombie who has sold their soul to Apple/Microsoft/Google/the NSA.

Or, perhaps, you’re in the middle finding your own personal balance between digital and analogue for your own purposes. Which does not make for a good Daily Mail headline. There’s no real conflict in my putting my touchscreen laptop in the same bag as my bullet journal and fountain pen.

My knitting world is similarly divided, which is probably very typical. The “current” knitting revival mainly lives in cyberspace. Most of the knitters I meet I will know their Twitter or Ravelry usernames first. But the craft we’re so passionate about is about as analogue as you can get, slow, methodical manual work. Since I’ve been thinking a lot recently about analogue vs digital in the work and productivity facets of my life, I wanted to find where I fell in my knitting life too.

Knitting books

I own a very small number of knitting books in Kindle format. I love kindle for novels and non-fiction prose, but I much prefer to be able to sit down and flick through a physical book. They’re heavy and they take up space, but they’re so lovely to look at and it’s always a pleasure when a knitting friend comes to visit and we can sit down and flick through looking for a pattern or just inspiration.

I’m the same with my physics books. Digital formats can be great for quickly finding what you’re looking for, but they still haven’t managed to make a digital textbook that I find usable. Analogue definitely wins here!

Single Patterns

Single patterns, on the other hand, are pretty much entirely digital for me. I love that I can buy a shawl pattern at 2 am and start knitting it right away. I don’t, because I’m fast asleep at that stage, but I could if I wanted to! One rare exception was the pattern for my wedding shawl, which was not available as a digital download at the time.

Most of my digital patterns don’t ever make it onto dead tree format. So how do I use them?

Using Patterns

I’m almost never away from a screen, so most of the time I will just work off a pdf. Sometimes I will print something off, usually because I’m going to be taking it on the road, or rail in my case, or it’s a complex lace chart. For those I adore my chart keeper. It’s great for allowing me to keep track of my rows and I can whip it out on the train for extreme lace knitting!

Shopping for wool

Shopping online is still a tricky prospect. I might order a t-shirt online, but I’ve never been brave enough to order jeans or a skirt. I have a hard enough time finding the right size and cut in person, and having to buy, get delivered and send back is a pretty huge commitment for something I suspect would have a 90% failure rate.

Some people take the same approach for yarn. It’s important to be able to touch and squeeze the yarn, possibly even smell it, before taking it home. From that point of view, in person yarn shopping is amazing. I love going to a new yarn shop and seeing all the brands I’ve never had a chance to smoosh before. On the other hand, sometimes I know exactly what I want and online is the right place to go. Maybe I’ve already smooshed in person, like when I bought cocoon for my Owls, or I know I want a particular weight and fibre content in a particular colour, and online ordering is much more efficient for me to get that. The more I learn about the technical side of yarn and what I like to use, the easier I find online yarn shopping and the less surprises it has in store for me.

I love my custom blend of tech and analogue in my yarn life. What’s your custom blend?