May-June Knitting Projects


KIMG0336When I learned to knit in February, I knew right away that I liked doing it. I wasn’t sure whether I liked it better than crochet because it was a new craft I’d just learned (read: novelty) or if I honestly did like it better. I made a couple of crochet projects in March and April, and after doing that it became very clear to me: I actually like knitting better on its own merits. When I’m holding yarn and knitting needles in my hands, I’m a very  happy camper!

KIMG0391So far, I’ve completed two pairs of baby booties and two sweaters (one for Small Fry and one for Dragonfly). My current projects are more sweaters – I simply adore making them! The first one is a charcoal gray, long-sleeve sweater for Munchkin. It will have a pocket in the front, like a traditional “hoodie.” Because we’re entering the warmer time of year, he obviously won’t be wearing it much in the short term. Therefore, I’m making it a size 10 so it will (hopefully) still fit him this fall. (He’s 9 years old and hovering between an 8 and 10 size-wise.)

The second one is a light brown one called “Larry,” which will be a Christmas gift for my dad. He’s a sentimental kind of guy, so I just know he’s going to be so in love with a handmade sweater. I can’t wait to give it to him!

The big photo shows the back of Munchkin’s sweater, which I just recently finished (this sweater is knit in four pieces – back, front, and two sleeves – then sewn together with yarn). It also shows what I’ve got on my dad’s so far, which is still in the gauge swatch stage, so not very exciting 😉 The color is much nicer than what I was able to capture in the photograph.

So that’s what I’m up to in my free time this month.


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My Experience as a New Knitter (Part 2)

I’m going to pick up pretty much exactly where the first half of my story left off. Find that first part here.

When I couldn’t move any further on the baby cardigan, I bought some 100% wool yarn and knitted a cloth diaper cover for the baby. I’d read a lot about how wool is waterproof like the artificial fabrics, but because it’s natural it allows baby’s skin to breathe better. Since Dragonfly has shown himself to be prone to diaper rash during the past couple of weeks, that seemed like a good thing to me. The diaper cover was a fairly easy knit, although I did find myself on Google a couple of times because I didn’t know what some of the abbreviations – and stitches associated with those abbreviations – were. Once I learned what they meant, they weren’t that difficult to implement. The diaper cover turned out quite well, and even though it looks kind of loose around his legs, it holds leaks in just fine over the top of his flat diapers. I still have some of that wool yarn left, so I plan to make another cover sometime soon.

knittingAfter the diaper cover, my next project was a sweater for Small Fry. Remember, though, that I’d gotten stuck on the sleeves for the baby sweater… So I opted for a sweater-vest style this time, so I could have success without worrying about sleeves. That method worked like a charm. I was able to follow the pattern easily, but like the diaper cover there were a few methods I had to learn from YouTube videos. That’s not a problem, though. I’m glad to live during a time period when that’s an option!

KIMG0336After following the pattern exactly, including the needle size called for, I realized that my sweater was turning out much too small; there was no way it was going to fit him. (It should have been 13 inches across, for a total of 26 inches around. Mine was only 9 inches across.) Fortunately, I noticed this when I was only about a quarter of the way done. It was at that point that I understood that “gauge” (knitting talk for “stitches per inch”) really matters a lot when you’re creating a garment. I never bothered with gauge swatches in crochet, but I usually just made hats and blankets so it didn’t matter that much. (Technically, it did matter with hats; I was just fortunate enough to have a similar gauge to the designer whose hats I crocheted.) What I’ve learned with knitting is that I tend to have a tighter gauge than most patterns call for. This just means that I need to use larger knitting needles than what’s usually recommended.

After learning about gauge, and practicing knitting a little less tightly (it’s okay to be a tight knitter, but not too tight, which is where I was before), I was still having trouble getting the proper gauge for the pattern, so I went into the yarn store with the intention of purchasing a new set of needles in a size between the two I already own. I showed them my swatch and explained that I thought I needed a new set of needles. The employee took one look at my knitting at diagnosed me with having created “twisted stitches.” Turns out I was making the purl stitches backwards, which was having an ill effect on my gauge. She showed me how to do it correctly and suggested I try a new swatch using proper stitches before I purchased new needles. (I love that she was so honest and didn’t try to sell me something she didn’t think I needed!) I took her advice and came home to create a new sample. My knitting was still tighter than the pattern called for, but not nearly as tight as it had been before. So I swapped up to my larger needles (which were 2 sizes bigger than those the pattern called for) and continued to knit some practice fabric. After a few rows, I measured again, and I got the proper gauge. I was super excited, and immediately freed the swatch from my needles so I could start the real project. About two weeks after that, Small Fry had a sweater vest to wear 🙂

Back to the baby sweater and why it will never get sleeves. Remember when I was talking about having created my stitches backwards, causing them to twist? Well, that entire sweater (the part I’d finished) was made with those twisted stitches. I didn’t think it was a good idea to continue creating that particular sweater since I’d since learned the proper way to purl, so I “frogged” it. (That’s another knitting term that means “to undo.” It gets its name from the sound a frog makes – “ribbit.” What do you do when you’re undoing knitting? “Rip-it, rip-it.” Heehee.) I’ll reuse most of that yarn into another pattern for baby Dragonfly, though, so nothing got wasted but my time. And that wasn’t really a waste since I was learning the whole time.

So that’s where I am now. I’ve learned a lot since that initial knitting class on Valentine’s Day, and I’ve had a lot of success and nearly as much failure. But the failure is all about learning, so I don’t see it as a true failure. And that’s a good thing.


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My Experience as a New Knitter (Part 1)

I recently talked about why I decided to no longer continue sewing recreationally. It was a decision that I didn’t make lightly, and one that I haven’t regretted even once since I made it. Instead, I’ve focused on yarn-based crafts. For a while, I just crocheted (because that’s what I knew). Then in February, Will bought me entrance to a knitting class taught through one of the local yarn stores as a Valentine’s Day gift. The price of admission was the purchase of knitting needles and yarn from the store (if we’d purchased those items elsewhere, there would have been a $20 charge).

knittingDuring the class, I felt quite overwhelmed. I think that’s probably normal when learning a new skill. When I got home, I was determined to continue learning in order to not forget the new skill. It was frustrating, and there were a few tears as I couldn’t figure it out once I was away from my teacher. But again, I was determined. I found some videos online that helped me fill in the gaps that I’d forgotten on the drive home. By the end of the first week, I was doing much better – mostly. I had the feel of the yarn and the needles down, but I was inadvertently adding stitches as I was knitting. I couldn’t figure it out. Some more online research told me that this was a normal problem with new knitters, and it happens because you’ll often pull the yarn over your working needle instead of between the two needles. Once I learned what the problem was, I’ve been very conscientious about it, and have only made that mistake one time since.

Part of why I wanted to learn to knit was to be able to make useful things other than hats and blankets. I’m quite accomplished at crocheting those things, but I wanted to take yarn crafting to another level – especially since I was giving up sewing and quilting. For this reason, once I’d spent a week or so knitting “nothing” (sample swatches to get the feel of the movements down), I moved straight into more complicated things… specifically a baby sweater for Dragonfly. Turns out that was a bit too ambitious, thanks to the sleeves. It’s been about six weeks and I still haven’t gotten sleeves on that particular project (and won’t ever – more on that in a minute). But that’s okay because it did something else, even though it didn’t fulfill its “usefulness”: it gave me confidence. I learned a new style of stitch (in knitting, there are only two stitches, but depending on how you combine them, you get different fabrics), and I created something big.

This post has already gotten a bit longer than I expected it to, so I’m going to wrap it up for now and continue documenting my experience next time.


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Picture of the Week: Freshly Knitted Booties

baby bootiesFor my first knitting project (not counting practice swatches), I decided to make Dragonfly a pair of baby booties. The first pattern I tried worked out really well – the booties were super cute – but ended up being a bit too small for him, despite me having made the 6 month size. So I found another one to try, and they seem to fit better 🙂 I gained enough confidence in having successfully completed two pairs of booties that I’m trying my hand at a baby cardigan now. I’ll let you know how it goes!


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