Tuesday, March 3, 2009

plugging along...

The scarf is at 65" at this point. Seems like I've been here before...har har... Yep, still tagged with new stitch and row markers are steadily at work here.

I am finding that while watching movies, these 'tube' scarves go faster than I'm aware of. Have you found that in some of your 'mindless' knitting? Watching the snow report up in Boston has also put a little speed in this project as well. I keep remembering last year when I was working on my Dad's vest. I loved the project and the feeling of knitting hugs into it so much, I didn't want to give it up. Therefore, he didn't get the vest until June - in time for Father's Day, but not needed in the warmer months of the year. Listening to my parents talk about how often this winter season they've worn their hand knits, it's made me make sure to get this finished before the need is gone for my son. Yes, guilt is a motivating factor here! Guilt works. Amazingly well.

Now, one last thing, I want to mention the needles here. I am a complete devotee to my Addi's. When I lost the first scarf, I was so intent on starting this over again as quickly as possible, I picked up a pair of Clover bamboo circulars, as I wasn't near a store that carried Addi's. Right now, I'm thrilled with the fact that my Addi's Clicks don't come in a 16" cable. (There's a reason here, I believe the tips that come with the set are too long to work with the 16" length. Notice that in the 16" circulars the difference of the length of the tips? Yep, I think if they come out with a 16" length of cable, the tips would have to be shorter, or come as a separate set. My opinion, of course.) Knowing what I feel now, I'm thrilled they didn't come in 16" sizes, I'd be sick to my stomach to have lost them with the first scarf.

When I picked up the bamboo set, I intended to switch as soon as I could pick up another Addi 5.5mm size, hoping they'd have them at the stores in the new blue cable that I reallyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy love! However, when I went to measure the other Addi's in the 5.5mm sizes, and then compared the bamboos that I'd been using, there is a difference in the actual size. The bamboos are a bit bigger. I have decided to keep the bamboos for this scarf so it doesn't throw the gauge off. I did that years ago when I first switched to Addi's from my old Boye's. I was making a baby blanket and I thought..hmmmmmm....not going to matter. Was I wrong!

Can you see the difference in the 2nd picture at the top of the blanket? Yep, big, noticeable difference. Now, it could be the fact that it was a gap of 5 years between working on the blanket, and then also switching needles after I'd discovered the Addi's. Between the work time, I know I gained a lot of knowledge as a knitter with the new things I'd learned via the Internet groups and the books that I'd taken the time to read and put into practice. Things like gauge, learning what your knitting is doing, learning what the stitches were actually doing in the fabric that I was creating makes a big difference with the final outcome. Also, learning to try different tools and fibers and what feels comfortable has been a great knitting education here. And it also tells me I have a lot more to learn.

I'm not sorry that I've gone through this. There is a reason to pick different 'tools' for your projects. For me, I love my Addi's. I love the smooth, slickness to them and their joins, are fabulous for the projects that I've made with them. The bamboos have a definite 'drag' to them while using them with the wool. Which is why I prefer to use bamboo straights for my dishcloths and hanging dishtowels. The 100% cotton on them works well for me. Same with the Brittany Black Walnuts that I have only 2 pairs of. Hindsight, I should have picked up a few more before they were totally gone. *sigh* 20/20 vision I guess.

What does this all mean? Give lots of different 'tools' a try. The day I walked into a LYS looking for a pair of circular needles and hearing all they carried was Addi's and knowing that I was on a really tight budget with their price tags, made me wince. I had never tried them and couldn't imagine any needle making that big of a deal in my knitting. I had found the Susan Bates to be better than the old colored Boye's. They seemed slicker and I thought I was OK with that. I did miss the lack of colors in the needles that I liked knowing by sight which pair was which. Then I started hearing discussions about the difference between wood/bamboo/metal needles, and again, after knitting for more than 30 years at that point, I thought it was all hogwash. Keep in mind, I was still using my metal straights for the Baby Jiffy Knit sweater! Ya, those days are long gone. I had no idea how much easier/lighter weight it was for my wrists to switch to circulars with smooth joins would make while knitting.

What's the upshot of all of this? Give something different a try when you get the chance and make up your own mind. Try out a pair of needles from a friend, try out some while at a LYS that has extras on the table for you to use for a little bit, etc... There are subtle differences between brands, and sizes, etc... I won't even touch on a pair of double points I picked up recently, again in a rush to get a project started, that ended up having one needle of the set a noticeable difference in size. Pay attention to what you're buying, and what you want to use if you are going to spend any kind of time in the future knitting. I've taught a group to knit using chopsticks. They were a great way to learn to 'test' the waters. I've also taught a group of Brownies to knit on dowel sticks that I'd cut and sharpened to use. Both ways are inexpensive choices to give to a group who wants to try. But, when the time and finances come to a point that you want to invest in yourself, just like investing in a computer, or the tools in your toolbox to work on the house or the car, pick something you want that fits your needs that you are comfortable with using. After all, if you're making a sweater or an afghan, you're certainly putting in a great deal of time with those tools in your hands. Treat your hands well. They'll give you years and years of great knitting time if you do! Tools, massages, exercises, rest time, go 'hand in hand' with great knitting (and crocheting) experiences.

Above all-enjoy!

Now, back to watching the Bachelor 'cry' some more, so I can get ready for the daughter to come home this weekend and hear her opinions once again on how Jason was 'wronged' the last time he was on the show. I'm dying to hear her opinions on the ending of this go-round. Shesshhh...I'd sworn off regular watching of this show a long time ago..and dangitall anyway..she's sucked me back in this season. What's your guilty TV watching secrets? I'm knitting while I'm watching last night's episode on the computer while every TV "News" show has been talking about this. OY!