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Friday, June 17, 2011

Fingerless Mitts for Fall

Summer hasn't even started here in Minnesota yet (and I sure hope it does.....soon), but I'm already thinking about what I need for fall.  I've mastered knitting mittens and have a favorite pattern, but wanted to try making fingerless mitts for when the weather gets colder but not so cold you need your fingers covered, too.  I found an easy pattern on called Wicked Easy Wristas and whipped up these wool mitts in a very short time.  One big problem I had was with the thumbs.  In a typical mitten pattern there are increases that you make leading up to the thumb gusset, but with this pattern there were none.  That makes it not fit as well and also left me with some loose stitches around the thumb that had to be fixed up (darn!) afterward.  Another problem was I  had to add four stitches to the circumference of the palm, because the mitts were too tight, and I have very small hands.  I used a size 6 dpn (Double Pointed Needle), which I think is ideal because you need a tighter weave for mittens to be warm enough.   The perfectionist in me is not satisfied with this pattern, so I will be trying a new one soon.  Stay tuned to my blog and I will show you a pattern that works better - I promise, because I'm Not a Quitter Knitter!

If you haven't checked out  yet, you seriously need to!  I learned about this website a few years ago when I was at a neighborhood garage sale.  The woman in charge was knitting a pair of socks on two circular needles, so I started a conversation with her.  I had always wanted to learn how to do that.  I was making socks the 'one at a time' way on DPNs and thought it would be easier and cool to make two at at time.  She told me about all the free patterns on Ravelry, the knit and crochet community website.  Ravelry also has tons of groups you can join based on your knitting or crocheting interests.  Do you like to make scarves?  Hats? Cowls?  Dishcoths? Lace shawls?  There are groups to join and people to meet who can share their experiences.  People post pictures and project info on there, which can help you decide your next project to do.  It's really amazing!  There are also designers who sell patterns on the site.  LYS (local yarn shops) have groups, too, so you can easily check up on what is happening in your area.  Do you want to take a class?  Are you wondering if there are any yarn sales?  Join shop groups and all that info is just a click away.

Another popular type of group on Ravelry is charity knitting.  Who knew there were so many causes you could contribute to?  I started a charity knitting group last December on the site.  Warm Feet is the name and so far the donations have gone to shelters for women who have experienced domestic abuse.  Our next cause to donate to is treatment centers and halfway houses for people recovering from addiction.  Warm Feet is mostly about giving out handknit slippers to people who are experiencing a life crisis and looking at making a new start.  We have also donated hats, mittens, scarves, soft toys, dishcloths and embroidered dish towels.  The latter two items are part of the shelter's transition plan.  When the women and their children are ready to move out and get a place of their own, they are given a laundry basket full of household supplies they will need.  To check out or join Warm Feet, you will need to join Ravelry first.  It's free and worth every penny!  We are always looking for more members, so please join us if you are so inclined.  I have been amazed at the friendships I've made and the positive feelings I've had from contributing to this cause.

Funny thing is.....getting back to the garage sale and the two socks on two circulars, I did try making socks that way, but ended up liking the 'one at a time' method best!   What this taught me is I enjoy the challenge of learning something new, but also have my own preferences and need to respect that.  I'm knitting for enjoyment......not to impress people!

Happy Knitting/Crocheting!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What's in a Name?

Not a Quitter Knitter....that's my blog's name and I'm proud of it, because it says precisely who I am.  In other areas of my life, I often give up easily or leave the hard work to someone else, but with knitting I've managed to be persistent.  If you think of knitting in terms of other skills you have mastered in life, you can easily see that the more times you try the more likely you are to eventually become successful.  Think of when you first learn how to ride a bike.  Did you just get on the bike and take off without any help from anyone?  Probably not.  You may have practiced with training wheels first until you got the hang of steering and pedaling at the same time.  You may have had a grown-up holding onto the back of the seat waiting until you started to balance on your own before letting go.  You may have fallen down a few times and had to dust off dirt before starting over.  Same is true with knitting.  Whether you learned from someone at your side showing you and coaching you through it or by watching a YouTube video tutorial, chances are you had some help along the way.  The ability to rip out some stitches and start over is essential for success in knitting.  Don't think of it as wasted time.  Think of it as important lessons learned.  Practice makes perfect.  Persistence pays off.  Questions yield answers.

One of the most important lessons I've learned is that knitting follows a natural progression.  This isn't something that has been written in the instruction booklets very often.  Starting with simple projects is so important when first learning how to knit.  A cotton dish cloth would be a great project to start with, or a simple scarf, but there's a lot more time involved in knitting a scarf.  Beginners want more immediate satisfaction, so the quicker the better, I say.

Funny thing is, my first project was a pair of mittens made with circular needles.  I remember how sad I was when I lost one of the mittens, too!  My grandma taught me how to knit and lead me through the whole mitten-making process, but I know I couldn't have been able to do it again without help.  Nevertheless, I did learn how to knit and twenty years later I was able to pick up some needles, cast on and knit!  I wonder what your experiences have been?  What was your first knitting project?   Who taught you or how did you learn?  Just curious.....would love to hear from you!