I normally only write one post a week, but today is so nice here in Central Florida that you all are getting what we here like to call a “two-fer”. Two for one week.
The weather around here has been gorgeous the last couple of days. A cool front came by after some rain and we’ve gotten a reprieve from the super-hot temperatures that have plagued us for the last month. The sky is absolutely clear today and the air comfortable.
Our dog took some time to amuse herself by trying to chase the lizards. To answer any questions, her name is Roxy, she is an American Bulldog/Jack Russell mix, and although she may look small in the pics, she is actually about 60-70 lbs in weight and about twice the size of a purebred Jack Russell. She is hyper, friendly to those she knows, and loves to be rubbed.
La vie en rose et violet is coming along very nicely. And yes, I do have a piece in progress on the needles.
My toe is still stinging a little bit, but pretty much around the nail where it is trying to heal. I will spare you the pics of my weathered, less-than-womanly feet.
And I am currently on my second cup of coffee for today.
We do have Netflix in our house, and recently I’ve been watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, and I’ve been alternating between episodes from the new incarnation and those from the collection from the original run, which has 20 episodes up for streaming. My favorite so far from the Original Collection has been Manos: The Hands of Fate (although only Future War so far has bored me; probably because of Swiss actor Daniel Bernhardt, who I think was referred to in the riffing as “Jean-Claude Gosh Darn” because he does quite resemble Jean-Claude Van Damme). My favorite episode from the new one so far is Starcrash, basically a knockoff of Star Wars. As soon as I noticed it featured a young David Hasselhoff, I knew we were in for a camp-fest. And it was a camp-fest indeed.
Finally, I saw my niece again briefly yesterday, when she and her mama (my brother’s girlfriend) stopped by to drop off an invitation to her first birthday party next month. I have no clue what we’ll get her for a present. She’s been growing like crazy and it’s not really the right time of year for baby knits anyway. I’m thinking we’ll probably end up getting her some sort of toy for a present.
I hope you’re having a good Saturday, and I hope to write again soon!
Let me start by saying this: I smacked my little toe into the coffee table this morning and drew blood. I will spare you the pictures, but I bled all around the toenail. Surprisingly, the toenail is still intact, but there is no telling whether it will fall off. More than anything, it stings like a mother, even though the bleeding has stopped. My dad laughed at me about it, but only because he’s had the same thing happen to him before. Hopefully, my toe will heal up okay.
With that out of the way, I now come to the point of my post: Knitting & Crochet notions and how to store them. I’m sure my fellow fiber artists have had to deal with this before. I’m about to show you just one way to go about storing your tools (or “notions”) in a somewhat efficient way. When I first started knitting, a family friend had sewn up a little bag from old blue jeans, and that served as my notions bag for quite a while. However, I did have issues. Mainly, I had stitch markers and the like falling all around the inside of the bag, and I had a hard time keeping track of them. I eventually decided I needed a better solution.
It all started with a better bag.
This particular pouch is manufactured by tech gear, and as far as I know, it is available at local discount stores for less than $5 US. The difference between a standard bag and a tech gear pouch is that tech gear sews their pouches up in such a way that anything you put in it will be easier to grab from the pouch. There is no bottom seam. Tech gear pouches can be used for all different sorts of things, even storing money if you’re working some sort of fundraising effort. The inside also has a smooth, glossy finish that aids in removing any objects put in it.
Now, how do I keep the little objects from falling out? It took a little ingenuity here, but I was eventually able to find a solution. Here, repurposing is your friend.
Here, I took an unused coin pouch and used it to store my stitch markers. I have both complete ring and split ring stitch markers.
This is an old lip balm pouch that now holds all my yarn needles.
This is a coin pouch from an old purse that I now use to hold my cable needles.
Old or unused coin and makeup pouches make great containers to store smaller notions and tools that may otherwise get lost in your notions bag. I normally don’t store coins in a coin pouch anyway, so it can be handy to hold on to those so you can have easier access to your stitch markers, yarn needles, and cable needles. I use the regular rings (the plastic white ones) as standard stitch markers and end of round markers for projects knit in the round. The split ring markers (the green ones that look like padlocks) are useful for marking the halfway point of a round when working with the Magic Loop method or marking either side of a central stitch when working a shawl; they’re useful for marking the side boundaries when I make handbags and totes in the round or marking certain stitch multiples (say, every 50th stitch) when I make a long foundation chain for a crochet project, and they’re even useful if you’re working an amigurumi crochet project (that is crocheted in a pure spiral with no chain to begin the next round) to give you an idea of where the next round begins. They’re quite versatile. Yarn needles are used to tidy up your project, and I find that the finer gauge ones are useful for the Russian Join method of joining yarn ends (where you fold the ends over themselves and interlock, and then you sew each end onto itself), where you must weave yarn ends in and out of themselves. Cable needles help add texture to a project by permutating (changing the order in which stitches in a particular row and section are worked) stitches. I have a set from Boye that are in three different gauges: the green one is for fine gauge yarn (great for sock weight and laceweight projects), the red one is for medium gauge yarn (sport weight, DK, and worsted/aran weight), and the blue one is for heavy gauge yarn (chunky, bulky, and super bulky). The dip keeps the stitches in place while working the cable.
What other items are useful in a notions bag?
Crochet hooks, two with row counters on them.
Several pairs of circular needles.
Two sets of double pointed needles.
Spare crochet hooks are useful, even if you’re a pure knitter. They can help you pick up dropped stitches, join two knitted fabrics together, make certain kinds of provisional cast ons, and make fantastic holders for row counters, especially if you primarily use circular needles and have no place to put a row counter on the needles. I also keep a couple of sets of double-pointed needles and some circular needles. Optional: a crochet hook case (I have previously made one, not pictured here, that rolls up like a knitting needle case and can easily fit in the pouch as well).
Cardboard circles used in the construction of pom-poms.
A knitting gauge (which has a set of rulers, a small window meant to help you see stitches and rows in a swatch, and a set of holes in various diameters) gives you a rigid surface to help determine gauge in a swatch for a project, can help you measure small lengths in a project, and will assist you in finding the correct diameter of a mysterious or unidentified knitting needle (especially a circular or double-point, which usually does not have a diameter stamped on it). Tape measure is helpful for measuring a recipient (or yourself) for a garment, and can also keep you on track for the length of a scarf or shawl. And those two cardboard circles? Use a compass to trace and then cut them out; if you’re making anything needing a pompom, like a really cute winter hat, those two circles, a yarn needle, a pair of scissors, and spare yarn in your chosen color are all you need to make one.
And finally, you can’t finish a project without one of these.
Scissors. You will absolutely need scissors. These are regular scissors, but sewing scissors will work, too.
And that is how I store my notions.
(BTW, did any of you catch the Dr. Strangelove reference in the title? I have seen that movie at least twice, and it is still an incredible example of political satire. I may end up continuing to use silly subtitles in these particular posts.)
If you have any suggestions on how you store your notions, feel free to share in the comments.
Knitting on La vie en rose et violet is going pretty nicely. I have gotten the both of the adjoining sides to the length that I want them at (18 small squares by 18 small squares), and now comes the tedious task of slowly filling in the rest of the blanket, piece by piece, until I have finally completed a giant square afghan. I promise that I will share more pictures as more and more of the blanket is knit.
Today, though, is one of those random life posts. I’ve had a pretty good last couple of days. Friday, I got to see my niece, who is approaching 11 months and will be turning 1 in June. She is currently at the stage where she can walk while holding on to things, but can only walk 3 or 4 steps unassisted before going back into a crawl. She is also doing some simple baby talk, but has not spoken simple words yet. I sincerely hope we are able to attend her first birthday party; it has been such a joy to watch her grow so much in her first year on this planet.
Yesterday, we went down to Orlando to meet up with my mom’s best friend from high school, her boyfriend, her daughter, and her daughter’s family. Mom’s friend and company were getting ready to head back to New England after spending the winter in South Florida. The parents and I had lunch at a restaurant on the property we went to (I don’t want to name the location as my dad works for one of this company’s competitors). Mom and Dad had steak dishes, while I had seafood, including some shrimp and salmon. We met up with mom’s friend and company at another restaurant they like to frequent when they come to this place, and we spent about an hour or so talking and laughing and enjoying each other’s company, but eventually came the time when mom’s friend had to get back on the road so that they could get back to New Hampshire; they were planning on stopping in Georgia for the night and heading on from there (and this is six people all heading in the same direction). I hope they have a safe trip home, for sure. The downside of all of this is that the temperature in Orlando was well over 90°F and shade at the place we went to was at a premium. I ended up with a sunburn on my face, neck, and shoulders, although thankfully it was not a severe sunburn. I’ll probably be just a little bit more on the pink side for the next few days. We certainly were glad to get back into the air-conditioned pickup truck after all was said and done.
Our excursion to Orlando yesterday got me thinking.
I am a native Floridian, born in Orlando and raised not too far away from there. I’d prefer not to share my exact location, but I was raised, and still live, in a somewhat small town within 50 miles north of Orlando. Though both of my parents were born outside of Florida, both of them have lived here over 40 years (Dad came down as a kid in the late 1960s; Mom arrived after graduating from high school in the early 1970s). I like to call them “naturalized Floridians”. When you’ve lived in Florida for as long as we have, you kind of notice things. Now, I know Florida gets a lot of flack from people (especially the rest of the South, who seemed to have disowned us from the rest of the region), but I’ve been here so long that I’ve grown to love the quirks of this place that I happened to be born into. With that in mind, I would like to follow in the spirit of comedian Jeff Foxworthy, but instead of “You Might Be a Redneck”, I would like to call this…
“You Might Be a Floridian”
If you find yourself wearing flip-flops for 11 out of the 12 months of the year, you might be a Floridian.
If the very thought of wearing closed-toe shoes gives you blisters, you might be a Floridian.
If the grand prize on a game show is a trip to Florida, and you just say “meh”, you might be a Floridian.
If you find a temperature of 50°F downright cold, you might be a Floridian.
If you can remember when the local Macy’s used to be a Burdine’s, you might be a Floridian.
If you drive by the theme parks in Orlando and you just say “meh”, you might be a Floridian.
If you think The Golden Girls is a documentary, you might be a Floridian.
If you can tell a tourist by their wardrobe, you might be a Floridian.
If you attach your memories to a specific hurricane, you might be a Floridian.
If you think there are only two seasons in a given year — wet and dry — you might be a Floridian.
If you refer to people from up North who move down here as snowbirds, you are definitely a Floridian.
I welcome any other suggestions from fellow Floridians, just post them in the comments for this post.
(My dad and I used to watch The New Yankee Workshop a lot when I was a kid, and I seem to remember Norm Abram making a lot of mitered corners in his projects; hence, the title.)
Since my last post, I have gotten quite a few questions (both through this blog and on Ravelry, where I can also be found as snowlessknitter, all one word) as to how I do the mitering method I use for my afghans. I sort of detailed it in my last post, but today I figured I’d go more in-depth, with illustrations, also known as pics.
It should be known that I did not invent this method. In fact, I learned most of my current style from a book called The Knitter’s Bible by Claire Crompton, which I would recommend to just about any knitter of any skill level (and a million thanks to The Lady Bryan and her mom, who ended up giving me a copy of that book when they suddenly had to move years ago; that book has been in very good hands ever since and it has been extremely useful in helping me to develop my own skills). The book also teaches how to make mitered rectangles, Ls, and large squares (although I now use a different method of making large squares than the one detailed in the book). For simplicity’s sake, I will only show you how to make a small square, as all other mitered shapes in this family are essentially extensions of the small square.
So, here we go. The example used here is from my current WIP, La vie en rose et violet. I have been working on building up the sides to establish the overall square shape (which will be 18 small squares long and 18 small squares wide). The shape being worked here is the final piece to finish one side of the afghan.
Step 1: Get an ODD NUMBER of stitches onto your needle. There are different ways to do this, depending on the nature of your project and the orientation of the piece you are working. Stitches will either be cast on, picked up along the edge of an already knitted piece, or a combination of both. If casting on stitches in a mitered piece, I strongly recommend using a knitted-on cast on, as a long tail cast on will cause the corner of the piece to curl up instead of laying flat. For this particular shape, since I have two already-knit sides that will be holding the small square (which is 29 stitches to start with), I picked up stitches along the two edges of fabric, making sure to pick up the center stitch from the area where the other two fabrics (the dark purple and the variegated) meet. If you are adding an edge to the right of your previous piece, you will want to cast on and then pick up stitches, And the center stitch will always be picked up (cast on 14 stitches, then pick up 15). If you are adding an edge to the left of the previous piece, you will want to pick up and then cast on stitches (in this case, pick up 15 stitches, then cast on 14).
Step 2: Knit a wrong side row. Before beginning any decreases, work a plain row on the wrong side of the work. If you are planning on any sort of centered double decrease, purl the center stitch (here, it’s knit 14, purl 1, knit 14). If you are doing a regular double decrease (like a k3tog or a sl 1-k2tog-psso), knit the center stitch. If you also want a neat edge for picking up stitches, from this row onward you may also choose to work to the last stitch, then bring the working yarn to the front and slip the last stitch purlwise. (This stitch will be knit at the beginning of the next row.)
Step 3: Work to your center 3 stitches and work a double decrease. I normally use a centered double decrease here, but any double decrease that reduces three stitches to one stitch will work: knit 3 together or the slip 1, k2tog, pass slipped stitch over are two popular ones. Once the decrease is complete, work to the end of your row as set.
Step 4: Repeat Steps 2 and 3 as set until you have decreased to one stitch. When one stitch remains, fasten off stitch by breaking yarn (leaving at least a 6 inch tail for weaving in), and then thread end up through last stitch to secure it.
Mitered rectangles and Ls are worked in the same manner, except that in a rectangle, two small squares are worked simultaneously and in an L, three small squares are worked simultaneously. (I would strongly recommend using stitch markers to divide each set of stitches so that the decreases in each section are easier to work.). After all decreases, a rectangle ends in two stitches, while an L ends in three. In both cases, you would thread the yarn tail through all stitches at least three or four times to secure them (much like finishing the top of a hat). My method of working a large mitered square would take a whole separate post that I must save for another time.
I hope this post answers your questions and does a decent job in illustrating the mitering method. A tablet camera isn’t the best, but it’s what I have, and I’m still working out the kinks in learning how to post them. Until next time, me hearties!
(A preview of my Work in Progress in the photo above.)
I touched on my motivations for knitting in my debut post here, but I’d like to write a bit more about how knitting has touched my life.
I consider myself ambicraftuous, as in I can do both of the major yarn and needle crafts, knitting and crocheting, with relative ease, and this is not always the case with knitters or crocheters. Some crocheters don’t know how to knit or knit sparingly, and some knitters don’t know how to crochet or crochet sparingly; a great little piece on this is the Yarn Harlot entry “Hooking Because I Have To”, where she talks about dipping into some crochet skills to help out her knitting. Though I do tend to knit more than I crochet, these days, I don’t believe in being a “yarn snob” or a “knitting snob”. I’m not going to stick my nose up at crocheters because there are amazing things out there that can be made with just yarn and a crochet hook. I look on in sheer awe every time I see someone who’s crocheted an amigurumi figure or used the amigurumi method to come up with their own creations. (I was never quite able to master amigurumi as a crocheter.). Really fine thread and the skinniest of hooks can make incredibly intricate doilies and tablecloths. Even with some cheap worsted weight yarn and a J hook, you could make a functional scarf or a colorful afghan. I’ve crocheted a stole for The Lady Bryan’s mom and helped my maternal grandmother crochet granny square style afghans all the way back when I was 8 or 9 years old. I’m not going to tell you what kind of yarn you should be using because there are yarns for just about every budget and need these days. I am perfectly okay with using cheap, acrylic yarn. I would love to be in a position where I’d be able to get wool, but being a homemaker at the moment, it is just not possible. So acrylic it is. It takes a little extra care when it comes to washing items made from it, but other than that, I don’t mind it at all. In fact, my current Work In Progress (known in our crafting community as a “WIP” and pronounced like “whip”) is being made with acrylic yarn. I will get to that WIP shortly.
Why do I craft? I craft for many reasons. I craft because I’m shy and sometimes have trouble socializing, and when people ask me about my projects, it serves as an icebreaker. I craft because I can’t draw or paint very well. I craft because it calms my nerves when I feel anxious. I craft because when I feel upset about something, it helps me take my mind off why I feel so upset. I craft because I’ve been inspired. I craft because I need something, be it a sweater to protect me from cold winter winds (and we do get those down here in Florida) or a case for my crochet hooks (which I have done before using Star Stitch). And most importantly, I craft because I love the act of crafting.
Okay, my WIP. Over the years, I have made a number of patchwork and quilt-like afghans using the mitering method of creating knitted shapes. Basically, mitering works like this: you cast on an odd number of stitches onto your knitting needles (and depending on the shape you want to create, you can cast on multiple sets of the same odd number of stitches: one set makes a small square, two makes a rectangle, three an L shape, and four a large square which I would normally work in the round), knit a wrong side row (purling the center stitch in each section), and then begin working the right side row in your chosen stitch pattern (I normally use garter stitch because of its simplicity), working a centered double decrease (slip 2 together knitwise, knit 1, pass the 2 slipped stitches over the knit stitch; this puts the stitch you purled in the previous row on top and makes a lovely stockinette column in the center of each section). Work across the row, turn, work the wrong side row (purling the center stitch of each section), turn, lather, rinse, repeat until you’ve decreased to one stitch in each section depending on the shape you’re working. Cut your yarn, leaving a tail for weaving, fasten off (if you’re working a small square) or secure stitches like you would in the top of a hat knit in the round, weave in ends.
This one I am working on is for nobody in particular; I started it with some scrap yarn I had on hand from an old Frankenball of yarn I had made from some leftover Red Heart Super Saver (the light pink L in the corner that you’ll see and some variegated purple and some solid black). I only got two skeins of Red Heart yarn the last time I went to my local store (Dark Orchid, which is the solid dark purple, and Panther Pink, which is the pink and black variegated), but the next time I go, I plan on getting another three or four colors, depending on budget. By the way, I used up every single scrap of the Panther Pink in this project. I played yarn chicken trying to finish an L piece yesterday and just barely succeeded. I had a short tail to weave in, but it wove in! Here is a collection of pictures from my project so far.
I give you La vie en rose et violet, whose name is a take on a favorite song of mine, “La vie en rose” by Édith Piaf, and its name is also a reference to its color scheme, pink (“rose”) and purple (“violet”).
Section from La vie en rose et violet
The piece I played yarn chicken with is in the upper left corner.
Forgive my belly for intruding into this picture.
A section for. La vie en rose et violet
Curse my belly for invading this shot, too. It’s not easy taking pics from above with a tablet camera! I hope to improve my photography skills.
I hope my experiment with adding photos and links has gone well. And most of all, I hope you enjoy the pictures that I’ve shared with you here. I can’t wait to see how this afghan turns out, because I am having a lot of fun knitting this one so far! Until next time…
I will get to actual knitting in my next post, but I felt the need to write about this first.
Spring began in this part of the planet a couple of weeks ago. Just four days after the 2017 vernal equinox, I turned 30. Just a couple of weeks earlier, we were experiencing the last throes of a Florida winter, which is normally very dry and occasionally very cold. Within two weeks of the beginning of spring, that last cold blast was a distant memory. Spring has come in like a lion here: the live oaks and the maple trees (and yes, we do have maple trees in Florida) are beginning to don their leafy green coats; the sand pines that cover our landscape are dropping their old pine needles, pine cones, and even what can best be described as their stamens (structures that provide pollen to the pine cones); and the birds are singing and flying around in full force. Male cardinals sing their songs in the hope of attracting a mate, and tiny chickadees remind us of their presences with their signature call that gives them their name. Mockingbirds mob the crows that try to invade their nests in search of food, while turkey vultures and red-shouldered hawks glide through the azure skies for prey and carrion. And on occasion, I will see a swallowtail kite in flight, its trademark forked tail immediately noticeable to my eye. The grass is slowly starting to grow again after laying dormant for the winter, and it will not be long before the neighborhood lawn mowers awaken and hum their own loud songs.
As for us humans, we have long shed our winter coats and traded them in for tank tops, lighter fabrics, and even the occasional athleisure wear. We watch the basketball and ice hockey seasons wind down, and baseball season finally begins anew. Some families go to church on a Sunday, while others hunker down in their air-conditioned homes and prepare to watch that day’s NASCAR race in the hopes that their favorite driver will take home the checkered flag, be it for the first time or the umpteenth. We let our furry companions out to enjoy the day’s rays of sunshine, while their owners either walk with them, or in my case find a place in the shade to sit and knit while watching my dog chase the tiny lizards around the front yard. And I watch how her ears prick up in excitement, while her tail wiggles in curiosity and her snout pokes around in the scrub in search of those quick, elusive little lizards.
And I think and realize that this will be my niece’s first full spring on this planet, and how she’ll complete her first year as a living, breathing member of the human race as this spring, the one we are living in now, will blend into summer in a couple of months’ time. I think of how she will soon be approaching this world with the curiosity and enthusiasm that almost all children her age do. She will soon be able to speak and walk and express herself, and I can’t help but wonder if she’ll be as enthused by the wonders of spring as I am this year. I have completed 30 revolutions around our Sun, and she will soon complete her first.I wonder what her 30 revolutions will have in store for her, if she is lucky enough to make it that far. Will she be happy? Will she find amazing friends who stand by her and stand up for her? Will she find something that she becomes incredibly passionate about? Will she find love? Will she be independent and successful? We all face these questions throughout our lives.
I love the weather of a Florida winter, but I also love the brightness and the renewal of a Florida spring.
Hello readers. I had been mulling over the idea of starting a knitting blog for some time, but today was the day I decided to cast my anxieties aside and finally start it, just a few days after turning 30. You only live once, right?
First, a little bit about me. My name is Crystal, and the reason why I decided to title this blog “The Snowless Knitter” is because of the fact that I am a knitter (and occasional crocheter) who lives in the incredibly snowless region of Central Florida. I was born and raised right here in Central Florida, and as I mentioned in the last paragraph, I just turned 30 years of age. I am unmarried, with no children, but I do have one dog and one very adorable baby niece. I have been crocheting since I was about 8 years old, learning how to make granny squares from my maternal grandmother, although I did not learn flat crocheting until I was about 18 years old. I also took up knitting at 18, although it took me a year to learn how to purl. Once I figured out purling (thanks to a dear friend’s mom), the other blocks kind of fell into place. These days, I can knit almost anything, even some projects without a pattern, except for intarsia, and I can crochet almost anything with the help of a pattern. My main craft is knitting, but I am not above pulling out some yarn and a crochet hook when the inspiration strikes me.
While this is not my first attempt at blogging, this is my first time blogging on WordPress. I’ve kept my own personal journals and notebooks over the years, but this is the first time I am publishing a knitting blog. I guess in a way I am trying to explore myself through writing, because I am currently at a point in my life where I am not sure what direction my life is going to go in terms of a personal life or a career. I have a lot of ideas and dreams, but I don’t have any idea as to what I want to do. I currently care for my mother while my father works during most of the week. At times, I think she needs me more than the rest of the world needs me, and for now, I’m probably right. To express myself and indulge my ideas, I usually knit. I pick colors that reflect my mood or state of mind, and I design projects that reflect my ideas. For me, knitting is more than just a hobby…it is a way for me to express myself in ways that I normally feel like I can’t do by speech or in writing.
I feel like I’m trying to rediscover my literary side by doing this. My favorite blogger is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, better known by her nickname, “Yarn Harlot”. Ever since I found her blog about a decade or so ago, I’ve always admired how she approaches things in life, the big and the small, with a sense of humor and a touch of whimsy. The smiles and giggles I’ve gotten from reading her blog over the years helped me through some tough times for me emotionally in my early 20s (along with watching The Golden Girls and discovering a love for baseball), and even now as I’ve been on more even footing emotionally, I still enjoy reading about her adventures in life as she is about to become a grandmother (as she’s chronicled on her blog) and her continued adventures in knitting. I hope to discover things about my writing through this blog. I really do.
I don’t know how often I plan on posting here. I do know this: I don’t plan to post just for the sake of posting. This is a blog, not a diary. This is not for sharing my deepest, darkest secrets; this is for sharing a bit of myself with the world and hoping that the world will appreciate me in return. I hope the readers enjoy my writing, and perhaps I may start chronicling my knitting here very soon. Thank you.
I am the "little armored one", moving gently through life. Hoping to safeguard my sensitivities with layers of words and the expression of thought. Shielding my mirror neurons at times, or tasting music and spinning till I'm dizzy. Every moment here is a gift.